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The Light Between Oceans

I picked this book up on a whim the other day because the cover intrigued me. However, once I began reading, I was completely enthralled. Stedman's debut novel, The Light Between Oceans tells the tale of Tom Sherbourne, the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock (a fictional island) off the coast of Australia, at the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean. The title refers to these two oceans, and the entire book is shaped by duality. The island on which Tom tends to the lighthouse is named after Janus, the Roman god of two faces. As Stedman says in an interview, "The theme of duality runs right through the book...It reminds the reader that there’s always more than one way of looking at things." She chose to set the story on the lighthouse because (as the NYT book review quotes):
There is something that appeals to the human psyche about lighthouses because of their isolation...The story throws up the role of isolation on morality — when you don’t see the impact of your actions. Perhaps it’s easier to fool yourself when you cannot see the face of those who are affected by what you do.
The story itself touches is very "morally complex" (as one review puts it): you want to support the characters but their decisions do not always fall in simple categories of "right" and "wrong". Without giving away any plot spoilers, Tom and Isabelle (his wife) find a baby washed up on shore and are torn about keeping her or notifying the authorities. This conflict drives the book, and the reader is ultimately left with mixed feelings of satisfaction at the ending but sadness definitely lingers. Definitely a good way to start off my winter reading list. Rating: ★★★★


Winter Reading