Adult,  Big Book

The Light Between Oceans

M L Stedman
between oceans 2A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision.
They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.

As we were sent this book unsolicited it took a while for me to pick it up and read it, and when I did I wished I’d started earlier. We first meet Tom who is a lighthouse keeper on the coast of Australia (as in the Light of the title), he has survived the horrors of World War 1 and is happy to have a quiet life, the complete opposite of his time in the trenches. Tom comes across as a thoughtful, caring man, toughened up by life, he has learnt hard lessons from his experiences and now seems content, but changes are on his horizon.
A change in posting sends him to Janus, the most lonely Light, furthest from shore. On his way there he has to stay for a few days at the nearest town and he meets Izzy. There is an instant connection between them, but Tom doesn’t think any woman would want to be with him alone out at the Lighthouse. He under-estimates Izzy who is a strong, and for the time especially, independent and free thinking woman, they eventually get married and go to live at Janus together. M L Stedman beautifully describes the island the life is on and their life there. In some ways it almost comes over as quite idyllic. However as time passes Izzy has miscarriages and they have to cope with this alone, really in the middle of nowhere things get harder.
Then, as the blurb says a baby washes up to them and to Izzy this feels like a miracle, but Tom is not so sure. As you can guess from the blurb too they do keep the baby, much against Tom’s better judgement and for a while everything is wonderful, but as Tom’s conscience continues to prickle life is not as charmed as it might appear. Big decisions still lie in store for everyone and the consequences of their actions are far reaching.
I really enjoyed the way that we got to know Tom and Izzy and watched as their unique relationship grew and blossomed, it made an excellent basis to watch again as they have to deal with disagreement and tough times and to see whether or not their relationship would overcome adversity. The build-up also enables us as the reader to fully sympathise with both Tom and Izzy as they make decisions that many people would just see as being wrong. There is a real challenge here to think about what we would do in the same circumstances. It is not always easy to do the right thing, and the right thing is not always clear either! I also liked the way that the changing fortunes of the couple made me re-evaluate them as people, I felt quite differently about Izzy by the end of the book.
Verdict: A great out working of a complicated moral dilemma, wrapped up in gripping prose and unforgettable characters, gripping!
Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Black Swan
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 464
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author

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