The Light Between Oceans
By: M.L. Stedman
# of pages: 343
Quote: "Isabel was squeezing the girl to her, sobbing at the touch of her, the legs fitting snugly around her waist and the head slotting automatically into the space beneath her chin, like the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle." -p. 273
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.
The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.
My opinion: "Deeply moving" describes this book perfectly. I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know how much I liked this book. But I can say that I related to it. I felt what the characters were feeling. I made friends with Isabel, I was on her side. I smiled, I cried.
Isabel goes through 2 miscarriages and a stillbirth. Her first miscarriage occurred on May 31. 2 days after my own miscarriage. She feels shame for not being able to carry a baby. How I relate to that...
Years later she finally becomes a mother who can hold a baby in her arms. But fate is against her, a ticking time bomb, it's a matter of time before it all explodes around her.
I was on Isabel's side, but really, there is definitely no right or wrong side in this story. It's just like life. It's not fair. Someone is going to be hurt, no one deserves it. I was just rooting for Isabel because she experienced something I've experienced and I understood when she felt betrayed and angry. At the end, Isabel does have a choice, which is more than many people would receive her in situation. She doesn't choose the way I would have chosen. I wanted to scream at her. I was crying so much at the end of this book, but I respect the ending even if I wasn't happy with it.
I do recommend this book to all adults, but with the warning that it will be a hard read for those who have experienced miscarriage and infant loss. It will pull at the heartstrings of all mothers and make us all so thankful for our beautiful children.
Why I gave this book 4/5 stars: Beautifully written, characters with depth, a hard read, one that made me cry and wasn't completely satisfying at the end.
Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.