The Light Between Oceans: a novel

Author – M.L. Stedman
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publication Date – July, 2012
Number of Pages – 352 pages
Geographical Setting – South Australia

Tom Sherborne an ex soldier signs up as a light keeper at Janus Rock. An Island right in the middle of the ocean where contact with the outside world is made only once in a season and vacation is about every other year. Tom brings his young wife Isabel to this light where unfortunately life has not been very fair to them with Isabel having had two miscarriages and a still birth. As Isabel’s dealing with her latest loss, from no where, a boat sails up the shore with a baby and a dead man. Isabel firmly believes – this is God’s way of compensating them for all of their sufferings. God has answered their prayers by sending them a baby. Against his own better judgement, Tom agrees with Isabel for them to keep the baby. This decision is later to bring a lot of heartache, pain and agony to all of those involved.

My Take –
At the light, the rules of employment as well as the common wealth law stipulates that any incident on the light has to be logged and reported. Therefore, the decision to keep the baby was not an easy task for Tom who before now has been diligent with carrying out his duties out to the letter. The reader follows as Tom wrestles with his conscience which urges him to do the right thing and give the baby back. But seeing Isabel so despondent and vulnerable especially after two miscarriages and a still birth is really hard for Tom to bear. The story goes on to explore more issues as: How long can Tom and Isabel keep up with this secret and the ensuing lies? Is there a mother out there broken-hearted over a lost baby and a dead husband? What is to be done about the great bond that has formed between Isabel and the baby? This becomes a very painful situation where any action taken would be very hurtful and devastating for someone or everyone.

The Light Between Oceans is an interesting début novel with an intriguing plot line. However, I found the beginning methodically paced at first. Personally, I have little patience for very descriptive novels with lyrical tone, but I understand some readers might very much appreciate that style of writing. Typical with historic novels, this author launches into very detailed descriptions of the landscape by so doing, the reader gets a good feel of the setting and time period. At the same the author delves into the feelings, and emotional state of the characters. This helps the reader appreciate the inner thoughts of the characters and are able to empathize and connect with them.

The Light Between Oceans is an engrossing, touching and believable story that would appeal to fans of historical novels. There are talks about movie rights for this novel – so we’ll see…

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