- Beth Solka
Every once in a while you read a book that has phrasing which is so beautiful and uniquely written that you stop and just reread that section again. I found myself doing that often with The Light Between Oceans which is a wonderful debut novel by an Australian author, L.M. Stedman. The book takes place right after World War I and is a psychological study of one couple's decision and the ripples that it creates in the world.
Tom Sherbourne, a decorated war hero, returns from World War I forever changed by the horrors of war, but his honor is still intact. He is so respected and trusted by authorities that he is given the job of lighthouse keeper on a small island about a half day’s journey off of Australia’s western shore named Janus Rock. On one of his visits to the mainland he meets a brave and strong-willed young girl named Isabel and falls in love. They marry and start their life together on the Island.
However, Isabel’s happiness on Janus Rock soon fades when she has one miscarriage after another. She finally has a still-birth and goes into a deep depression until one day a boat washes ashore with a dead man and an infant. Isabel falls instantly in love with the newborn baby and calls it a “gift from God." Tom is faced with a horrible dilemma. Does he make his wife happy, raise the baby as their own and lie by omission in the lighthouse logs or does he break his wife’s heart and return the infant to the authorities in the mainland?
This beautifully-written book about love is a wonderful debut novel. I like the message that what we do doesn’t only affect us. It affects everyone around us, like ripples in a pond.