The second book I’ve read for Historical Tapestry’s 2014 Historical Reading Challenge is M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans. This touching novel set in 1926, tells the love story of Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isobel, who live off the Australian coast in a lighthouse. Unable to bear children of their own, the to find a boat washed upon the island’s shore with a dead man and crying baby aboard. While Tom looks at this tragedy as an event he must repeatedly report, Isobel looks at it as her prayers to god answered.
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.
This book was a moving look at what it means to love, and how we define family. Two good people make a terrible decision that brings them a few years of joy at the expense of another’s happiness. Loss and pain have a way of changing people and making us do things we’d never do otherwise. For most of the novel we witness the events through Tom and Isobel’s eyes, but after they realize their happiness came with a price, we begin to view these events from the eyes of those Tom and Isobel hurt. This novel isn’t a happy one, but it is a great read. Though Tom and Isobel are the main characters, I’ll admit that the character I loved the most was the child, Lucy. Lucy is the glue that holds everyone together, and the one I empathized with the most. If you’re looking for a book that’s hard to put down and thought-provoking, check out The Light Between Oceans.
This is my second completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge