Published July 2012 by Scribner
Source: I borrowed my mom's copy
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
There is so much to love about this debut novel. Stedman weaves together an incredible setting; flawed, real characters; and complex themes beautifully and with amazing insight.
"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."Life on Janus Rock could not be more isolated yet Stedman makes it feel rich and full. The lighthouse rock feel expansive and uncomplicated, particularly in comparison to existence on shore which feels almost claustrophobic at times and prejudices, expectations, and lingering grief make life complicated.
At it's heart The Light Between Oceans is a multi-faceted love story. Stedman asks readers to consider what would you do for love and at what cost. Tom can never quite forgive himself for giving into Isabel's desire to keep Lucy and when he sees what his choice has done to other people it begins to eat away at his relationship with Isabel. When the truth is reveled, the impact ripples through the community, a community which, like so many, was quick to cast judgment and slow to take blame. The truth is not always pretty and it's not always easy to say what is right and what is wrong.
"Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel. Sometimes it just bites right through you. And sometimes, just when you think it's done its worst, it comes back and takes another chunk."There are no easy answers in The Light Between Oceans but much to think about. And readers will continue to think about this one long after they've finished reading it.