I’ve had to read a lot of books over the years that I would never have picked myself; some have been gems, others not so much. The light between oceans is absolutely a book I would never have considered had it not been on my book group list this year. The synopsis was promising:
The light between the oceans is the story of Tom, lighthouse keeper on the remote island of Janus, and his wife Izzy. One day a boat arrives. Inside is a dead man and a baby. Tom and Izzy have to make a choice. But is it the right one?
“This is the story about right and wrong and how sometimes they look the same…”
Set in the aftermath of the devastating First World War, the story was always going to be desperately sad. Tom struggles to reconcile with his past, whilst feeling a fraud for surviving where so many others did not. Meeting Izzy gives him a second chance; his new job a purpose. I loved the descriptions of Janus and the development in their relationship. I enjoyed all of the other stories from the mainland too. Stedman’s portrayal of life after war was brilliant; the loss of a whole generation of men- those who died and those that didn’t- and the recovery of the families it left behind. It didn’t sugar coat it at all, which is so important.
Where I struggled was with the decision. The devastation of it and ultimate fallout was inevitable and just too much for me. I found it overwhelmingly heartbreaking. I don’t think there was ever a right decision to be made, but I guess that was the point. The last third of the book felt like a real slog, unfortunately. I accept that I am probably (looking at Amazon reviews, definitely) in the minority with this one, but I just wasn’t completely sold on it.