Sad and tragic, The Light Between Oceans, is a story of how love can move mountains and yet also be the bane of our existence.
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
This was such a tragic story for all the characters involved. A no win kind of story. A snowballed lie, born out of love, but a lie nonetheless, takes center stage and grips you though the whole book. The author allows us to see the story through many points of view. This has the effect of skewing our take on right and wrong. We can’t hate or dislike Tom and Izzy, even though they’ve essentially taken someone else’s child, because we know what they’ve been through and we know what they do is out of love and want and need. They are only able to carry out the lie because they are on an island and only return to the mainland every 3 years or so. Upon returning to the mainland, they continue the lie even though they know they are depriving others of their happiness in order to satisfy their own. Such heavy guilt can’t be contained forever.
The author does a wonderful job taking us back to the 20’s and life on the Australian coast. Let’s face it, life on an island that contains only two people is boring and although some of the entry’s in the book seem tedious, I think the author did a great job making it interesting enough to get us through to the better parts of the story.
The ending was beautifully done and had me in tears. Heart strings beware!