The Light Between Oceans is an incredibly moving novel about what happens when good people make bad decisions. The story takes place in the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s. The story begins when a light house keeper and his wife find a life boat containing a live baby (and dead man) on the shore of their isolated island. Through a mixture of misplaced intentions and unsupported superstition they decide to raise the child as their own — deciding not to inform the authorities of the child’s existence.
Although the book was a quick read, I never once felt that it was forced or lacking in anyway. The plot is compact — never wavering from its central theme. I enjoy this kind of focused writing. Irrelevant or distracting side plots would have pulled me away from Tom and Isabel’s narrative and weakened my investment in their turmoil.
The story is highly emotional. Stedman crafts a perfectly gray scenario that forces its readers to question their own moral standing. This truly is reader manipulation at its most powerful. Allowing the reader to sympathize with morally ambiguous characters is a difficult task, however, Stedman presents her narrative in such a way that the reader can’t help feeling the same inner conflict as Tom and Isabel.
Considering this is Stedman’s first published novel, I am incredibly excited to see what she produces next. This was a masterpiece in storytelling.
“Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel. Sometimes it just bites right through you. And sometimes, just when you think it’s done its worst, it comes back and takes another chunk.”
Remember when you were four years old, and your mother was just about your entire world? If you can remember that long-ago feeling of attachment to a parent, or if you have a child, or if you have longed for a child of your own, your heart will break for little Lucy. And it will break for all the grown-ups who loved her, whether they had a right to or not.
This story can feel so slow that you might be tempted to give up. It’s gorgeously written, but slooooow. Much of it takes place on a lighthouse rock 100 miles off the tip of Western Australia. The setting accounts in part for the pokey pace, but it’s also a big part of the novel’s charm. Somewhere in the last third of the book you’ll begin to appreciate the mastery in the careful build-up. The pace will pick up (a bit) and you’ll be glad you stayed with it.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is a heart-wrenching story about a relationship between two people and the risks they’re willing to take for each other.
I’m going to say that for me, the story was heart-wrenching. You can feel the love that Tom and Isabel have for each other. Tom, who would do anything for Isabel, is a special character I fell in love with from the start. Is what they do right or wrong? The story is sure to test your moral judgement.
“I promised to spend my life with you. I still want to spend my life with you. Izz, I’ve learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past.”
I did find certain parts a little boring, but the last half of the book – I couldn’t stop until the end. However, I do wish it would’ve ended differently. The conclusion I was looking for wasn’t the one I received, but that’s the way the author wrote it, and it’s still good.
It’s worth reading and I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m really looking forward to reading more by this author and hope she writes more in the future…