There’s something otherworldly and enduring about lighthouses. From snug lookouts, weather-ravaged men communicated with ships while stirred-up oceans slapped the shore. What type of man lived and breathed the ocean this way? When I saw this cover, I knew I must read this book.
In The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman draws the reader into the personal world of one such man. Tom Sherbourne is a medaled veteran of The Great War, a man of principle and character who dragged men to safety and always followed the rules. He’s grateful for a job manning the lighthouse on Janus Rock, a remote peninsula off Australia’s coast, where he can methodically work and live his days in order and sameness.
On a trip to the mainland, he meets the lovely, spirited Isabel, and returns to Janus Rock with her to carve a life. There she loves and cares for him, explores the small island, and longs for children. She miscarries twice and Tom would do anything to see her happy again. One day, mere weeks after delivering a stillborn child, a small boat washes onto shore. Inside is a dead man—and a live baby. Isabel views this as a sign from God.
Despite Tom’s insistence that they report the man and baby, Isabel protests. The mother is surely dead, the baby has no one but them. Tom loves her beyond measure and agrees to wait. The gravity of their decision weighs on him, but the problem is, he falls in love with the little Lucy, too.
Two years later, when visiting the mainland, they learn someone has never stopped looking for the little one, whose name is not Lucy at all.
Rarely does a novel come along that is so perfectly crafted, so packed with flawed, believable characters. Every word, every scene, has a purpose. The plot twists and bends to unexpected places, thrusting the characters into situations as rough as the raging ocean. Ms. Stedman is a masterful storyteller, has a keen eye and knows how to portray raw emotion on the page.
I listened to the book on audio, read by the wonderful Noah Taylor, who truly brought the characters to life.
What a stunning debut. Highly recommend!