The Light Between Oceans
by M. L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans was a book club book from last year that I didn’t read because I was taking a class and preferred not to read something with a sad premise. However, we got talking last month about seeing a movie that was based on one of the books we’ve read and this one came up. While we haven’t decided on our summer movie (a much beloved tradition), I saw this book in passing at my library and decided to give it ago. And because that is quite on a long history in how I came to read it, I’ll just dive into my review. I thought The Light Between Oceans was a beautiful, sad, gripping book. Stedman has a way with words and an ability to weave a story so that you get completely caught up and just have to hold your breath to find out what happens. I’m still processing her story. It was deftly spun and beautifully told, but it was truly very sad and difficult at points to read. She makes you challenge your thinking of “right” and “wrong” and “fate” and “choices.”
Plot spoiler: Tom is a lonely, war torn lighthouse keeper on the small island of Janus Rock, off of the southwestern tip of Australia. He meets a young, headstrong woman named Isabel. They quickly fall in love and get married, however their joy is cut short by three ensuing miscarriages. Meanwhile, in the town Isabel grew up in, Partageuse, a young couple welcomes their daughter, Grace, with love and joy, only to have it ripped from them when the town mobs the family because of the father’s Austrian heritage (it is post WWI). He is able to escape with Grace, but is later found dead by Tom on Janus. Grace still lives, but Tom and Isabel are unaware of her past and decide to keep her at Isabel’s pleading. They weave many lies and keep “Lucy” for almost four years until the secret eats at Tom to his breaking point. He discovers Grace’s mother, Hannah, and feels compelled to return Lucy to her. Isabel believes that would be cruel but she can’t hold back Tom. He confesses and a huge mess follows. In the end, Hannah is able to keep Grace, and Tom and Isabel move away. Isabel is never the same, but they are able to have some happiness in their lives before cancer takes Isabel away. Tom is left alone until one day Lucy-Grace (the name she chose) visits with her newborn son. It is a sweet reunion that totally made me cry! It was a beautiful ending.
Summing it up: I definitely recommend this book! It was difficult at points, but in a good way, and deeply moving and beautiful. Read with tissues!
All the best, Abbey