There are some books that just creep into the nooks and crannies of your mind with their evocative writing and complex characters. The Light Between Oceans is just such a book – unspeakably beautiful, and a real gem of a debut novel.
I have to admit that work has been a little crazy this year, and the ‘to be read’ pile is starting to teeter ominously on the brink of collapse. So it took me a little longer than I would have liked to get to The Light Between Oceans but I can safely say it was more than worth the wait.
The basic plot outline of this gorgeous novel involves a young couple who are living in total isolation on an island off the coast of Australia, shortly after the First World War. Tom is a war veteran and lighthouse keeper, and I have to say that the inclusion of rich detail regarding this occupation and the lifestyle the couple had as a result, was one of the many facets of this book that I loved. A major turning point of the novel arrives when a dinghy washes up on shore, and Tom and his wife Isabel find the dead body of a man, and a very much alive baby girl on board. There are many subsequent turning points in the tale, as we watch a complex moral dilemma unfold, and it is almost painful to witness. I really don’t want to give the story away, but it is a truly bittersweet tale, and I found myself hard-pressed to decide who was in the right and who was in the wrong in an incredibly difficult and unique situation. All the characters have their own flaws, as do we all, and they are written in such a way as to render them even more likeable, making the choice of who to support downright impossible. Stedman’s writing is superb – she finds the perfect balance between simplicity and beautifully emotive description. It’s the kind of novel that will reduce you to tears, but you will not be able to put it down. I can’t wait to read what she writes next.