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

cvr9781451681734_9781451681734_lgThe Light Between Oceans

by M.L. Stedman
ISBN 9781451681734
Scribner, 2012

Character development is a strength of this book.

When the characters in this book make decisions I know will lead to trouble, I understand exactly why, and I feel I would do the same in the same circumstances. Even when these characters work in harmful opposition to each other, I sympathize with each one in turn. Stedman’s skill in character development make it easy to empathize with characters making terrible choices.

Plot and pacing are strengths of this book.

The first part of the novel moves at a leisurely pace suited to the setting. Stedman describes the isolated but idyllic life of light keepers on isolated Janus Rock with beautiful prose. Tom Sherbourne and his wife, Isabel, thrive together on the remote island, even as they suffer together through two miscarriages and a stillbirth. But when a boat washes up on the shore of Janus Rock carrying a dead man and a live baby, the tension rises, and the pace picks up. This is where all those terrible choices come in. As the actions of different characters ripple out to shipwreck the lives of other, it is hard to  foresee a resolution. By the end, this book is riveting.

Theme choice and developments are a strength of this book.

Stedman explores several compelling themes: motherhood and the many different ways to be a mother; loss and the many different ways to lose a child,; and post-traumatic stress disorder and the many different ways to re-construct a life, or not, after trauma. All of these themes seize us in the solar plexus and take us on a heart-rending and inspiring emotional journey.

This book has complex but believable characters, well-developed plot and pacing, and gripping themes. I recommend it.


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on May 29, 2013, in Book reviews, Books for the beach, Books I borrowed, Fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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