Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Review ~ The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman


Tom is an ex-soldier who spent four years on the Western Front. He is a good man with high morals and doesn't hesitate to help others.  After returning to his homeland of Australia, he takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on one of the most isolated of all posts, Janus Rock.  Supply boats only come out once every season or so and the postings are long, usually 2 - 3 years.  Tom is good at his job and is meticulous about all aspects of it including keeping finely detailed records.  Against all odds Tom meets a young girl in town named Isabel and they get married, Isabel understanding that life will be very different for her from that point on.  But she loved Tom.  But as the years go by and she suffers two miscarriages and now a still birth on the island she is having a more difficult time getting over it.  Not long after the stillbirth, Isabel hears a baby's cries.  When Tom goes to investigate, he finds a boat with dead man on it and a baby hidden in the front of the boat.  He wants to radio shore and report it immediately but Isabel in her depressed state feels it is a gift of God to them.  After coming up with excuse after excuse to put off reporting it, she talks Tom into taking the child as theirs.  After all, no one at home knows about the still birth as of yet.  Toms struggles with what is placed before him.  His moral ethics scream that it is wrong and someone will be looking for the baby but Isabel's reasoning and her obvious happiness with the baby wear him down.  It gets to be too late to report anything.  When they return to the mainland for a break a couple of years later, they find out their choices had implications for other people and the couple is thrown into an even deeper moral dilemma than what faced them when they first kept the child without reporting it.

This was a book that really kept me engrossed from beginning to end.  It left me thinking about it for a long time afterwards.  It is not an easy story to read in the sense that it forces you to think through the moral dilemmas each character faces in the story, and it is more than Tom and Isabel who are up against that wall, and makes you ask yourself what would you do. It is in essence an extremely sad story to read.  I felt it was almost forcing me to choose which side of the line I would fall on and then when I made that choice, which I did right at the onset,  the story and characters bring you along with them into their world.  You feel Tom's dilemma and confusion and are heartbroken at Isabel's grief and sadness.  In my empathizing with them, I could almost feel myself being swept up in Isabel's justifications. It brings to light the slippery slope us humans put ourselves on when we start to believe our own justifications for our actions even when convicted of it's wrongness at first.  It is hard to say more without giving away what happens in the story.  It was a book well worth reading, beautifully written but at the same time it totally put my heart through the wringer.















4 comments:

Chris said...

Sounds like a really good read. I'll have to check it out!

Faith said...

another one for my list! :) i have such a BIG PILE in my book basket and my goal is to finish them by the first day of autumn (sept 21)

Susan@ Reading World said...

This is one of my favorites. Sad, but beautiful.

Rogue River Fishing said...

Insightful and complex review! ‘The Light Between Oceans’ may well become a true classic!