Rated of 5
by Cloggie Downunder
The Light Between Oceans is the first novel by Australian-born author, M.L.Stedman. A veteran of the First World War, 27-year-old Tom Sherbourne takes a position with the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service and finds himself on a remote island off the West Australian coast, at the meeting point of the Indian and Southern Oceans. Grateful (if guilty) to have survived, Tom is happy to live a quiet life, so meeting and marrying the fascinating Isabel Graysmark is well beyond his expectations. Their happiness on Janus Rock is marred only by Isabel’s failed pregnancies. Then, in 1926, a boat washes up on the beach containing a dead man and a tiny, very-much-alive baby. The decisions the couple make at this point will have consequences they could never have imagined. Stedman has crafted a beautiful story: an original plot filled with dilemmas that will have the reader contemplating long after the last page; luminous prose that is marvellously descriptive of the Western Australian landscape and effectively conveys the post-war atmosphere; and characters with depth and appeal whose situations evoke empathy (only the most hard-hearted reader will finish this book without a tear shed). Stedman’s extensive research into the area, the era and, in particular, lighthouses, is apparent in every paragraph. Stedman made me want to find out more about lighthouses and maybe climb one; she also made me want to see Izzy and Lucy’s drawings. My favourite quote of many comes from Tom: “I’ve learned the hard way that to have any kind of future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past.” This brilliant novel has been a world-wide bestseller and was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award: a win would have been richly deserved.