The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman ★★★½

IMG_77891The Light Between Oceans, set in the early 1900s, follows the story of lighthouse keeper Tom and his wife Izzy. The couple solely inhabit Janus, an island off the shore of Australia’s mainland, when one day a boat washes up on the shore, carrying a crying baby and her dead father. Tom and Izzy then make a devastating decision, its consequences growing increasingly impactful, reverberating throughout the novel. This story is extremely moving and surprisingly believable, and I found myself really enjoying reading it.

This novel is extremely emotionally resonant, which was definitely its best aspect for me. It explores love, loss, happiness and despair, and I was totally convinced throughout, really sympathising with all of the characters. I found the depiction of the marriage between Tom and Izzy particularly fascinating, and the extraordinary power of it in sustaining people through the most difficult circumstances. Their relationship was touching and while complicated, utterly believable. Furthermore, I found the myself completely swept up into the storytelling. The writing was often beautiful, and descriptions of the island and the sea were compelling.

The story line, despite at first expecting it to be unpersuasive, I found to be completely engrossing, and I believed every twist and turn the author threw at me. We see two people make a single calamitous decision, and get swept along their journey with them. When we finally reach the complicated and almost ridiculous point at the end of the novel, we are completely sold on how we got there. The novel depicts really well how one decision’s significance can grow and grow over time, making it more and more difficult to undo.

I also found this novel to be quite thought-provoking. As you question the judgements and actions of all the characters throughout the story, you are made to question your own morals, and what you would do in certain situations. I found myself to be completely torn between justice for one character and the salvation of another, caring deeply for both sides, and at points completely unsure of which way I wanted the story to go. I was really impressed that the story made me feel so conflicted.

I found this to be a tender and emotional story, that at the time of reading I was completely immersed in. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a quick, satisfying read, that will really make you feel for the characters. Nevertheless, I am not sure this story will particularly stick with me, and although I really sympathised with the charatcers while reading, I do not think they were particularly interesting or memorable.

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