Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M. L. Stedman

When I read the description of The Light Between Oceans, I sensed that it was going to be an emotional journey, and I was right. Tom and Isabel Sherbourne are a young couple caretaking a lighthouse on an isolated outcropping of rock off the southwest coast of Australia. Tom has recently returned from a horrific experience in World War I, his character sharpened and quieted as a result. Isabel, born into a family of means, fell in love with Tom and chose him over all else. But soon they yearn to expand their love into a family.

Fate intercedes denying Tom and Isabel with two stillborn births, and then again when it sends a rowboat containing a dead man and a live baby floating onto Tom and Isabel’s shore. You sense before the book matures that Tom and Isabel will make a dramatic decision about that baby, and that as with most decisions made in the heat of emotion, it will not go well. And then you anticipate the unfolding of the drama with curiosity and dread.

What makes the story of Tom and Isabel, the lighthouse at Janus Rock, and the history and fate of the cast away child so enjoyable, in spite of the anticipated heartache, is the strength of author M. L. Stedman’s (pictured) writing, which renders deep, vivid characters and brilliant visions of the beauty of the southwest Australian ocean and coast.

The Light Between Oceans is a lovely, well-written book that will leave you feeling warm, enriched, and emotionally challenged.

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