THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M.L. Stedman: A Review

This 2012 NY Times Bestseller is just now being discovered by book clubs, perhaps because it lends itself so well to discussions involving human empathy, ethics, and the fact that the book is just such a darned good story. It is heart wrenching and, as advertised on the cover, deals with “love, loss, and right and wrong,” just the meat for a group to chew on.

In the story, we find Tom Sherborne, a veteran from the Western Front during WWII, were he saw all the horrors of war and is left dealing with the fact he has killed, something very much against his personal beliefs; taking a job as a lighthouse keeper. Not just any lighthouse, but the one on Janus Island, off the coast of Australia, so isolated it is “half a day’s journey by boat to even get to it.” On leave, while on the Australian coast, he meets a very young Isobel, a bold, pampered girl who loves him unconditionally from the moment she sees him. At her insistence, they marry and he whisks her away to an isolated, lonely, mundane life on Janus, for they are the only humans there.  Surprisingly enough she is perfectly satisfied. as he is all she wants and needs.

In the early years of their marriage, she suffers miscarriages and a stillbirth, which, of course affects them both, as well as the marriage.  One day a boat washes up on shore, containing a dead man and a live baby girl. Tom wants and knows he should report this “find” to the authorities, but Isabel feels in His own strange way, God has sent her a child.

The story becomes increasingly tragic as the years go by, and the girl grows up. As Tom struggles with his conscience, and the couple meet the child’s grieving mother while on shore leave, the reader fears a collision of epic proportions, which actually does occur.  However, the author miraculously brings about a satisfying (if not a happy-ever-after) ending, and the reader breathes a sigh of satisfaction, having experienced a “darned good read.”

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Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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