THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M.L. Stedman is an amazing debut novel from an author who is bound for success.
The story begins in 1918 when Tom Sherbourne takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Australia. Janis Island is an isle alone; no inhabitants but for the keeper. It’s a lonely life, but will suit Tom who is just home from WWI.
After spending four harrowing years at war, it suits Tom to be sequestered on an island far from humanity, doing a job that requires him to use his expertise and attention to details. But after a time, Tom finds he really would like a wife. When he has shore leave he finds the perfect young woman. She is not the least daunted by the idea of living such a spartan and isolated life; after all, she’ll be with the man she loves. That’s all that counts, now. But to say they will live a life of isolation is a monumental understatement. They only get a supply boat every several months, and they get leave once a year or so.
Tom and Isabel decided early on to have a big family. But after several years of miscarriage and one stillbirth, they are losing faith of every having a family of their own. One day, a dinghy washes ashore with a dead man and a crying baby. Oh the dilemma, what to do. Tom is mortified, tries to do the right thing. Wants to report the incident immediately. But Isabel convinces him to keep quiet, just for a bit.
The moral complexity of this extremely compelling first novel begins. And even though I knew what should be done, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done given this same set of circumstances. And you will not be able to put this novel aside as this dilemma rides the wave.
People have long had a fascination with lighthouses. Books are written about them, visits are made to them, and there is much mystique surrounding them. M.L. Stedman gives us a wealth of information. She’s done her homework and shows us how the light works, how critical it is to maintain it, and how important the light truly is.
Stedman began her career many years ago in London as a lawyer. One day she gave it all up and hired a writing instructor. Then off she went to Greece to write. We are so lucky that an agent convinced her to make this short story into the novel it is today. Lucky us.
The writing makes this story come alive. The characters are unique. And the moral will make you think, and think.
This unique and lovely book goes on sale today, July, 31. It also holds the distinction of becoming the newest B&N recommend!
Thanks Simon & Schuster for the lovely finished hard copy!