This month, I read The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. The story follows Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, an Australian couple living on the island of Janus Rock. Tom is a WWI veteran, and after seeing the horrors of war, he has now taken up the job of lighthouse keeper on Janus, where only the two of them reside. The couple has suffered through three miscarriages, each one destroying Isabel more. One day, a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a baby inside. While Tom wants to write back to the mainland letting them know of the deceased man and the baby, Isabel begs him to keep the baby and raise her as their own. After being deprived of having children, Tom does not have the heart to say no to her.
As they raise their daughter, whom they have named Lucy, Isabel is assured that the world has given them a miracle after their miscarriages. While Tom finds it impossible not to love Lucy, his conscience eats away at him every day, knowing that their actions have possibly torn a family apart. Finally, on a trip back to the mainland, their secret catches up with them when they meet Lucy’s surviving mother.
Photo Credit: “Louisbourg Lighthouse” by Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Louisbourg_Lighthouse.jpg#/media/File:Louisbourg_Lighthouse.jpg
So, my thoughts on this? First of all, I couldn’t get into this book until about 30% of the way in – the beginning was rather dry, but I kept trucking until it got juicier. Second, let me just say that Isabel is bat$%!& insane and I hated her. I obviously wouldn’t know how absolutely devastating it would feel to lose three babies, and maybe that type of grief, coupled with isolation on an island, is enough to make anyone desperate…but you can’t just go stealing someone else’s child just because yours didn’t survive. I felt like as the story progressed, her thinking just got more and more twisted, and she got increasingly selfish. Tom is a noble man and I mostly enjoyed his character, but I wish he had stood firm on his beliefs and not given in to Isabel’s crazy fantasies. However, I suppose if he had solved the moral dilemma, then there would be no story to tell, haha.
Then there was Lucy’s real mother, Hannah. We are meant to feel bad for her as she has spent four years not knowing what happened to her husband and daughter, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed by how naïve she was, thinking that everything would be okay as long as she had her daughter back. I just wanted to shake her and scream, “even if your daughter returns to you, she is no longer the daughter you knew. You are a complete stranger to her, and she will kick and scream and cry for the woman who kidnapped her”.
As for the writing itself, I was a bit impartial to it. Not the best I’ve read, but not the worst either. I find it gets boring when books go too much into detail describing scenery, and while the author did spend time describing the beauty and isolation of Janus Rock, I felt like it was just enough and not too much. I wasn’t a huge fan of the dialogue, though – sometimes it felt…forced, like there was filler dialogue where there didn’t need to be.
Overall, a good, entertaining read, albeit rather depressing. After finishing the book, I Googled it and found out that they are making a movie out of it starring Michael Fassbender as Tom and Rachel Weisz as Hannah. I would definitely be interested to see how they end up adapting it into a movie.