Saturday, December 29, 2012
Review: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
This was one of my favorite books of the year. Hands down. I highly recommend it. To sum it up, it is after World War I and Tom and his wife Isabel start out their married life on a deserted little island off the coast of Australia where Tom is the lightkeeper. They try unsuccessfully to have a child of their own, but Isabel keeps having miscarriages. Then one day a lifeboat washes up on the shore of the island. Inside: a dead man and a baby that is still alive. Isabel and Tom have to decide what they are going to do with the baby, and then live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
I really don't want to give too much of this book away, so let me just say that it is amazing. There are some times where the story gets a bit slow, but Stedman's writing is so good that I just kept on reading because I was lost in her words. The character development was also so well done. I know I often say that I feel like I know the characters in really well written books, but with The Light Between Oceans I felt like I was the characters. And not just Tom or Isabelle, but a few of the other characters as well. I mean I felt exactly what they were feeling, to the point where I cried for probably the last 70 pages.
The thing is, Stedman did the whole character development thing so well that you don't know whose side to choose. Without getting into detail, I could completely empathize with and understand why Isabel and Tom did what they did, and then on the other hand, I also completely felt for the other main character in the book.
Another aspect of the book that really got to me was how dedicated Tom and Isabel were to each other. They had some really hard times, but they stuck together until the end and loved each other until the end, and that is real love. It made me want to snuggle up with Boyfriend and spend more time with him. I feel like nowadays people get divorced so often. I wonder how many people could have worked through whatever problems they had and then been happy and together later on in life. Of course, you never know what really goes on in others' relationships, but still..
And here are some of my favorite lines from this amazing book:
Page 32: Then, a moment's stillness. Not silence: the waves still shattered on the rocks, the wind screeched around his ears, and a loose door on one of the storage sheds banged a disgruntled drumbeat. But something inside Tom was still for the first time in years.
Page 71 (possibly one of my all-time favorite lines ever): There are times when the ocean is not the ocean-not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.
Page 323: As she sank to her knees on the grass and sobbed, the memory of a conversation with Frank floated into her awareness. "But how? How can you just get over these things, darling?" she had asked him. "You've had so much strife but you're always happy. How do you do it?"
"I choose to," he said. "I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget."
"But it's not that easy."
"He smiled that Frank smile. "Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things." He laughed, pretending to wipe sweat from his brow. "I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No"-his voice became sober-"we always have a choice. All of us."
Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M. L. Stedman
Date of Publication: 2012
Number of Pages: 343
Source: Personal Copy