Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans
by M.L. Stedman

Why did you choose this book? This is a book club selection I’ve been meaning to read
When did you read this book? April 2014
Who should read this book? readers of mystery and suspense
Source: library
Here is a synopsis of The Light Between Oceans from Goodreads

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 Review

This is a hard one for me to review for a couple of reasons. The first is that I am still thinking about this one, and am not yet sure what I think of it. The second is that, no matter what I think of the book, it will be difficult to review without leaking spoilers.

I’ve heard many good things about this one, but though I’d been meaning to read this book for over a year, I did not get around to it until it was picked as a selection for my book club. I’m pretty sure I would not have finished the book had it not been a book club selection. When I mentioned on our book club Facebook page that I was struggling with this one, a couple of members agreed that they, too, struggled, but that it got better after about 90 pages. This is into Part 2 of the book, when the baby enters the picture, so I kept plugging away. It took me quite a bit longer than that, almost into Part 3, but eventually the book got my interest and I needed to know what happened next.

I struggled with this one for multiple reasons. Initially I found the desciptions of Janus Rock, the island with the lighthouse, to be very boring. Also, while many characters were introduced, it was hard to see how they tied together or had any real relevance to the story. And of course, since the prologue and synopsis both let us know there was a baby coming, I kept waiting for the ‘action’ to begin. Even once the action began, there were so many poor choices made and so much unhappiness, it was hard for me to feel any connection to the characters. Other than saying I really didn’t like Isabel much at all through most of the book, I don’t want to say much else and risk spoilers.

Though I probably would not have finished this book had it not been a book club selection, I think it is an excellent choice for book clubs (with the understanding that it is slow to start!).There are so many poor choices made leading to so many unhappy consequences, that book clubs will have plenty to discuss! Book clubs will also enjoy dissecting the motivations of the different characters. You can find discussion questions online at LitLovers and BookMovement. My book club likes to develop our own questions to encourage member participation, and I will be posting those on the blog later this week.

I found a book trailer on YouTube.

My Rating:   ★★★1/2   3-1/2 Stars
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