I Could Be a Lighthouse Keeper

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This book was kind of on my radar for sometime so when a Facebook page I follow offered free copies as a promotional for a new online bookclub I threw my hand in the air and said, “me me me me.” And, so, I received a free copy and set aside what I was reading and commenced to reading this one.

And then I stopped.

And then I read some more.

And then I stopped.

And then I read some comic books.

And then my mom was in the hospital.

And then I went on a trip.

And then I read some more.

You get the idea.

The Light Between Oceans starts with Tom Sherbourne returning from the Western Front of WWI to his home country of Australia where he takes up lighthouse keeping. Eventually, he gets stationed at Janus Rock, a very remote posting and while traveling to his new station he meets Isabel. The two marry while Tom is on shore leave and then they head back to Janus Rock to set up married life. It goes pretty well except Isabel has three miscarriages, which are devastating for her. After the third, which results in a stillborn birth, a dingy washes up on the shore of the island carrying a deadman and a very much alive baby girl. Isabel manages to persuade Tom to not report the dingy and to pass the baby off as their own. It all goes smashingly until it doesn’t and that’s when things start to get interesting.

The book is told in three parts. The first two parts of the book are extremely slow moving. I don’t know if the pace of this portion of the book is supposed to mirror the isolation of Janus Rock but if I hadn’t been reading it for a bookclub, I probably would have stopped long before I got to part three. The descriptions of Janus Rock are quite beautiful and the agony of Isabel’s miscarriages seem to, also, match the desolation of living on a rock far from shore. I suppose now is a good time to mention that I don’t like Isabel. I suppose she is just a figure of her time. There is no such thing as prenatal care (was there?) so these miscarriages are her personal fault and why in the hell would she consider going back to the mainland during one of these pregnancies when her duty was to stay by her husband. And, why on earth would she need to see a doctor afterwards? Tom has a strong moral compass. He’s a military man that clings to the rules of lighthouse keeping to help him live in a world after surviving 4-years of war. Isabel manages to shame him (I felt) into keeping this baby with the argument that it’s a “gift from god” and just think of the horrible things that could happen to the baby because surely, even though we have no evidence of it, both her parents are dead. *sigh* This is where I wanted to smack the shit out of Isabel.

Part three doesn’t roll around until 200+ pages into the book. Should you make it this far, this is where things get interesting and the pace picks up. The gig is up and now the Sherbourne’s have to face the consequences of their decision to keep the baby. It might be difficult to put the book down if you make it this far. I ended up pulling an all nighter to just finish the book. I can’t say that I think it was worth it.

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