Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Book Review: "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman

Have you ever started reading a book that doesn't initially grab you, but somewhere in the rising action you find yourself surprisingly entranced? That's how my reading of M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans began; a bit slow and uncertain. This was a book I bought when it first made a splash in the literary scene, but I didn't actually sit down to read it until a few years later.

This story crept up on me with its stunning sense of isolation introduced through the character of Tom Sherbourne. Tom has returned to Australia after fighting in WWII. I am an admitted fan of all things WWII, especially the exploration of psychological trauma. Tom is haunted by the war, and in an attempt to heal from the experience he accepts a posting at a lighthouse on Janus Rock. Janus is a rocky island completely cut off from civilization. Stedman's use of setting serves as reinforcement of Tom's internal state, but brilliantly Janus also evolves along with the characters. Janus becomes a private sanctuary for Tom and his young, free-spirited wife Isabel who comes to live with him after they are married. The two become the Adam and Eve of Janus, explorers that re-map the island in a way only they can understand; they are hopeful and in love and Janus is the cradle of their happiness.