I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who live alone on an island off Western Australia. They discover a boat that has washed ashore, carrying a dead man and a crying baby and their decisions on that day shape the rest of their lives. Despite being isolated from the world, it’s no surprise that Tom and Isabel Sherbourne’s choices ultimately affect a great many people and a complicated story emerges. But simply put, this is mostly a story of marriage and family.
I think Stedman presents a terrific plot with great metaphors and believable characters. I liked reading about the town of Partageuse and of light houses and the Sherbournes’ solitary life. I also did not know much about Australia’s involvement in World War I and the losses they suffered. I like the way she tells the story of all her characters, with flashbacks and a gradual filling-in of details. I think this type of story-telling resembles the actual way we get to know people when we meet them.
There are many likable side characters, such as Bill and Violet Graysmark, Ralph Addicott, Bluey, Gwen Potts and my favorite, Septimus Potts, who has learned from his own experiences and mistakes and knows just what to do and say. To me, this sort of character development is the type of technique that enriches the story even more.
I think this is the kind a book that lends well to discussion and its ending provokes a lot of “What if” kinds of questions. I thought it would end differently. Did you? No spoilers from me, but tell me what you think!
Like movies? Click here to read about The Light Between Oceans film adaptation.
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