THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS – M.L. STEDMAN

After four years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as a lighthouse keeper. To his isolated island Tom brings a bold, and loving wife, Isabel. After two miscarriages and one stillbirth, Isabel hears cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. 
Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own. When she is two, the return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. 

I first found out about this book because the movie had just come out and all the trailers looked amazing – not to mention the fact that Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander star in it.  Set in post-war Australia, this magnificent novel pulls at the heartstrings and challenges everything you thought you knew about your morals.  

When Thomas Sherbourne returns home from World War I, scarred and guilty, he takes up a position as a lighthouse keeper on a small island just off the coast of Western Australia (if you don’t know, WA is the big one on the left).  On his way to Janus Rock, Tom passes through the small township of Partageuse where he meets and falls in love with local girl, Isabel Graysmark.  Their quiet courtship soon gave way to marriage and Isabel joined Tom on Janus Rock where they lived content with their isolation and blissful in their life together.  
Yet, several miscarriages brings the couple’s joy crumbling down around them.  Depression falls upon Isabel, and Tom, concerned for his wife, fights feebly to comfort her and ease her grief.  When, only a couple of weeks after the stillbirth of their premature son, a rowboat washes up on the shore, carrying a dead man and a squealing baby girl, the Sherbourne’s feel as though their lives have been set right.  At a single glance, Isabel’s heart lands in the hands of the wriggling child.  Despite regulations that require him to report such a discovery, Tom consents to keeping the child, wanting to give his wife this one joy.  Why should she not have a child?  Why should every child she has ever had be ripped from her before they could even open their eyes?
They raised Lucy as their own, almost forgetting how she came to them and – though the guilt never escapes Tom – thinking very little of anything outside their bubble of solitude.  Years later, the family returns to the mainland and they discover the true extent of the consequences of the choice they made the day they decided to keep another woman’s daughter.

Beautifully written, this novel has the perfect blend of classic Australian descriptions and clear meaning.  It's doesn't drag on, explaining every detail of the landscape (which tends to bore people to death) but, at the same time, gives a very clear picture of just about everything; I can imagine the rock pools, water slapping against the slick stones and the clear views across the island, the sound of a young girl's laughter and the shine of the lighthouse’s light as it cuts through the stormy night’s gloom.  Everything about this book seemed to be drenched in some sort of fantasy while also being heartbreakingly real.  

Honestly, I couldn't make up my mind when it came to the events of this book.  It tore me apart and made me question  right and wrong, truth and lies.  The characters where beautiful and real and the ending just hurt.  
This is what I would call a good book, a great book even.  I only wish that my idea of great books where stories that don’t make me cry...

Rating: 4/5


Grab your very own copy of this magnificent book from Book Depository or Amazon!

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