Friday, 31 October 2014

'The Light Between Oceans' by M.L. Stedman (2012)

Synopsis: The Light Between Oceans is set in 1920s' Australia. Tom Sherbourne is a WWI veteran and a lighthouse keeper at Janus Rock. This is a tiny and remote island off the coast of Western Australia, at the place where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Tom makes occasional visits to a seaside town on the mainland called Point Partageuse, and it's there that he meets a spirited young woman called Isabel. The two of them fall in love and eventually marry. Tom then takes Isabel back to Janus Rock. At first the two of them both love their solitary and peaceful environment but, after Isabel has two miscarriages and a stillborn birth, their marriage starts to become strained. After a storm a boat then drifts onto the island. On the boat they find a dead man and a crying baby girl. Tom wants to notify the proper authorities but Isabel insists that the baby is a blessing and persuades her husband into keeping the baby and raising her as their own. They name the baby Lucy and she becomes the light of their lives. However, Tom can never quite shake off his uneasiness about the situation and this intensifies when they go on a visit to Partageuse four years later. He learns that the baby's mother, Hannah, is still alive and is longing for news of her husband and her daughter Grace...

I have very mixed feelings about this book. There are certain things about it that I really liked. The premise is intriguing. There are some beautiful and vivid descriptions in the book and I really enjoyed its setting, both its historical setting and its geographic one. I've realised that most of the books that I read are set in either Britain or America so I've decided to broaden my horizons by reading more books that are set in other parts of the world. The fact that this book was set in Australia was really interesting to me. I enjoyed learning a bit more about life in Australia during the 1920s and, to me, there's something mystical about the oceans and lighthouses so I really liked the Janus Rock setting. But unfortunately I found Isabel so unlikeable and bratty that I couldn't sympathise with her at all. I was appalled by her selfishness! I know that she was grieving over the loss of her babies but that's no excuse for taking somebody else's child! Isabel knows that she could be taking a mother's child away but all that matters to her are her own selfish desires. She doesn't give anyone else a second thought. Isabel made me so angry that I couldn't feel sorry for her at all. I've read a lot of reviews where people said that they found this book to be a real tear-jerker but personally I just didn't find this book to be all that moving or memorable. In no way is this book bad but I can't see myself reading it again.

Rating: 3/5


Mònica said...

I might read this just to read something set in Australia. My sister's violin teacher is Australian, and I've become quite interested in her country.
On the other hand, I'm a little wary of books that people constantly hail as 'tear-jerkers', because a lot of the time the tearjerkiness is just cheap heartstring pulling. But we'll see. At least the cover is really pretty. Call me shallow, but books with pretty covers make me happy. XD

Hannah said...

I'm suspicious of some "tear-jerker" novels as well. I've been very wary of reading anything by Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks. Their books sound exactly like the sort of sappy, made-for-TV movies that my mother is so fond of watching :D

I know! It's a beautiful cover! My edition doesn't have that cover though sadly. I just went with the prettiest cover I could find for my blog. My library edition had this cover.