The light between oceans : a novel by M.L. Stedman

  Regina  Review by:  Regina

Title:  The light between oceans : a novel

Author:  M.L. Stedman

Collection: Adult Fiction

I’ve always been drawn to stories of lighthouses and this one did not disappoint me! Another story of love, loyalty, and loss – this time set on a small island, Janus Rock, nearly a hundred miles off the coast of Australia. The only inhabitant, Tom Sherbourne, fresh from the horrific memories of war on the Western Front, has returned as lightkeeper with his new bride Isabel. Isabel loves the lonely island as much as Tom and revels its beauty, but after two miscarriages and a stillborn birth, the grieving Izzy is not the same woman who arrived. When a boat washes up on the beach with a man who no longer breathes and a crying baby, Izzy comes alive, claims the child as her own and calls her Lucy. Tom is beside him with what to do, even as he falls in love with the tiny Lucy, as he records a daily journal of all events on the island. With each passing day his dread escalates – especially since shore leave, which comes only every three years, will soon be upon them. Unknown to them, back on the coast, a woman named Hannah has never given up hope that her baby is still alive.

The Light Between Oceans is M.L. Stedman’s very first novel and is a winner. Descriptions of the lovely, lonely island are inspiring and I googled Janus Rock to see if it was for real! (alas it is not, but I can pretend) The character of Tom, loyal to his wife, but torn between right and wrong, honesty and love will make you understand his pain and dilemma. Although I was upset with Izzy’s crossover into belief that Lucy was really hers without much of a qualm, I’ve never dealt with her excruciating losses. A very deep book that will leave you with conflicting thoughts for days after.

From an exclusive interview with M.L.Stedman:
Is Janus Rock real? If not, what inspired this place and does the name “Janus” have any significance?
Janus Rock is a figment of my imagination (I hate to disappoint any would-be visitors…). It just appeared as part of the story, and at some stage I realized it was located at the point where the Indian Ocean and the Great Southern Ocean meet.
The name is taken from Janus, the Roman god who has two faces looking out in opposite directions. The doors of his temple in the Roman Forum were open in times of war and closed in times of peace. He stands for beginnings and transitions, so his image is often found on doorways and thresholds. Janus’s two faces are a literal reminder of one of the main themes of the book, namely that there is more than one way of looking at things.
In contrast to Tom and Isabel when they make their fateful decision on the eponymous island, Janus can see the past and the future. In some ways, too, the figure is symbolic of Lucy, who effectively has two lives in two worlds. It also ties in with the motif of division that runs through the book, particularly when Tom and Isabel can no longer see eye to eye.

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