Far from the gaze of friends and family on the mainland, a lighthouse keeper and his wife find a healthy infant inside a dinghy that washes ashore on their desolate island. The couple resolve to not report the incident back to the mainland and to raise the child as their own. While the lighthouse keeper does so reluctantly, he is sympathetic to his wife’s wishes as she is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term.
With trips to and from the mainland occurring only once every two to three years, the characters in “The Light Between Oceans” never suspect that the child may actually be the daughter of a local woman who lost her husband and child at sea and presumed dead.
Several years after the baby’s “birth” announcement, the moral compass of each character in the novel is tested as a close-knit community discovers an unforgivable act of deceit. The characters become so deeply divided over their loyalties to each party involved that the line between love and hate, or even madness and reason, becomes thin as ice.
A modern day account of the biblical verse, the Judgment of Solomon, this novel is a heart-wrenching story of loss and ultimate sacrifice. Set against the backdrop of World War I, the characters wrestle with the realities of sons and brothers never returning home from the battlefield. Of adult children forsaking their families in order to marry a lover once considered the enemy. And of banishing a spouse due to an indiscretion even at the expense of tearing a child from his mother. These seemingly disconnected struggles all intersect on the lighthouse keeper’s desolate island with the child’s mysterious arrival. The wreckage left in its wake becomes irreparable.
M.L. Stedman’s narrative in “The Light Between Oceans” tells an engaging, compelling story. According to the publisher’s website, Hollywood has bought the rights to the movie. It will be produced by the same person responsible for bringing “Harry Potter” to the screen. This is one novel to read before the movie comes out if nothing else, to see how true the movie stays to the novel. How can it not maintain the same course?
Next read: “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon