Lighthouses have fascinated me for years. In fact, I am such a lighthouse nerd that I subscribe to the Trinity House bulletin, so I can keep up with all the latest pharology news. Whilst all the other kids in my childrens’ classes swap stories of summer holidays in EuroDisney and Torremolinos, my offspring have had to put up with being dragged to beacons in remote areas of the UK. My favourite lighthouse porn is a slim volume entitled “Lighthouse Accommodation Britain and Worldwide” by Joy Adcock, which allows me to feed my habit, planning both real and imagined lighthouse journeys.
So with this interest, ‘The Light Between Oceans‘ would have to be a pretty awful book for me not to like it. I read it for a Book Group discussion and although I’d read it before, I didn’t have to have my Fresnel twisted to read it again.
Tom Sherbourne, returning from fighting in WW1, finds his way to Partageuse in Western Australia. Looking for a quieter life and time to heal, he accepts a posting as a temporary lightkeeper on Janus Rock, a remote rock lighthouse situated where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Whilst on shore leave, he meets and marries Isabelle, a schoolteacher’s daughter who accompanies him to the island. Life seems idyllic, but the Sherbournes happiness is marred by the fact that Izzy seems unable to have children, and sadly suffers three miscarriages. One early-morning, a boat washes up on the island’s shore. Inside the boat are a dead man, and a crying baby. The discovery forces Tom and Izzy to make a momentous choice.
I have yet to meet anyone who has read this book and not liked it. The writing is engaging. examining a highly emotive and moral issue from all viewpoints. At one stage I was firmly on the side of one character, until the author flipped the narration, so I found myself siding with someone else. Now that the nights are drawing in, M.L.Stedman’s novel will really light up a dark evening.