Book review: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

The book:

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
Published by Black Swan in 2013
Pages: 434

My copy: Lent to me by my sister

5199GdYx0wL._AC_US160_The blurb:

A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision.
They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.

My thoughts…

Tom has become a lighthouse keeper following his experiences fighting in the war, which have clearly scarred him. He enjoys being in isolation so welcomes a move to a completely uninhabited island off the coast of Australia. But then he falls in love and gets married, and his wife joins him on the island. When a boat with a dead man and a living baby washes up on the island, Tom and Izzy are faced with a difficult choice, and one that will change their lives forever…

This is a very simple book with a moral dilemma at its heart. It has a simple structure and is very easy to read. What I liked about it is that there are no obviously evil characters; in fact you can sympathise with and relate to all the characters, even if some of them may have made the morally wrong decisions. I thought this was what made the book work so well as you did feel torn instead of there being an obvious ‘bad guy’.

The unique setting adds to the story – Tom and Isabel live in total isolation on their little island, and the descriptions of the weather and the lighthouse really created a good sense of atmosphere and place. It also worked in the context of the plot, as the story would only have worked in this setting, with Tom and Izzy not seeing other people for months at a time.  

Throughout the book, I was never sure exactly what was going to happen, so it kept me reading to the very end and despite being nearly 500 pages long, I easily finished the novel over the course of a weekend. The end was very sad but worked well I thought. There were no huge shocks or twists, but this book didn’t need any of that somehow. The simple style and the sympathetic characters were enough to make this a really good novel.

And the film is out later this year with some big name stars, so I will be going to see it when it’s released!

My rating: 8 out of 10


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