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The Light Between Oceans

Orange January/July

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1rainpebble
Edited: Mar 17, 2013, 11:46am Top

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I was weeping as I finished this book, one of the longlisted for the Women's Prize. (still Orange Prize to me)

Tom, a Veteran of WWI & guilt ridden that he lived through the war when so many did not, has found that he is unable to cope in the world he has returned to. And so he has put in for a post on lighthouses where he will have solitude to ease his mind and soul. He works several relief 'Lights' before being sent to Janus Rock Lighthouse off Partageuse, Australia. The job requires him to be there 24/7 with supply boats coming out every three months and every three years he will have a leave.

"For the first time he took in the scale of the view. Hundreds of feet above sea level, he was mesmerized by the drop to the ocean crashing against the cliffs directly below. The water sloshed like white paint, milky-thick, the foam occasionally scraped off long enough to reveal a deep blue undercoat. At the other end of the island, a row of immense boulders created a break against the surf and left the water inside it as calm as a bath. He had the impression he was hanging from the sky, not rising from the earth. Very slowly, he turned a full circle, taking in the nothingness of it all. It seemed his lungs could never be large enough to breathe in this much air, his eyes could never see this much space, nor could he hear the full extent of the rolling, roaring ocean. For the briefest moment, he had no edges."

While in Partageuse before heading out to Janus Rock he meets a young lady and they are taken with each other and write back and forth as the supply boats come and go. Within a short time they decide to marry and Isabel joins him out at the lighthouse. She quickly fell in love with the rocky island and all of it's little inlets and coves.
Beginning their family, Tom and Izz were so excited but then to be horribly disappointed when she miscarried the child. The babe was buried up on the high cliff and a rosemary bush was planted at the grave. But they didn't give up and soon Isabel was expecting again. It couldn't happen again but sadly it did. The second babe was buried near the first and another rosemary bush planted.

They went on, Tom lighting the lamp at night and shutting it off in the morn and keeping the lighthouse and all of it's workings sparkling clean and shiny. Isabel gardened, kept a few chickens and kept busy with the house. Then they found that she was pregnant again. Happy and yet frightening news for Isabel mourned her babes so & wanted one so very badly. This little boy babe she carried for much longer but in the end he was stillborn. She raged at God and tore at her hair, she mourned so. Again the infant son was buried beside his two siblings and another rosemary bush was planted. They tried to go back to life as they knew it but this time it was so different and so much more difficult.

Then one day when Isabel was up on the cliffs she thought she heard a baby crying, but surely not. It must be the wind or sea. But then she saw Tom come running out of the Lighthouse and heard him calling for her: A boat, Isabel, a boat! She ran down to him and he helped her as they climbed down the steep path to the sea where there was a small row boat. They could indeed hear a baby crying and could see a man lying in the boat. Tom checked the man for signs of life but he was quite dead. However tucked under the bow he could see a bit of color and there wrapped in a woman's cardigan was a little baby girl crying and very much alive. Isabel took the baby from Tom and it was love at first sight. Tom needed to report the boat, dead man & baby but Izz begged him to wait until morning. His heart sank but he felt so horribly sad for his wife, having just lost their third child two weeks prior, that he gave in. By the next morning she had convinced him that they should bury the man and keep the baby. Obviously the mother had fallen overboard and drowned beings the baby was wrapper in her sweater.
No one would know because the supply boat hadn't been since she had lost this last little one.
I found this to be an excellent story. I highly recommend it and I rated it 4 1/2 stars.

I really loved this story, so much more than I thought I would. I hope it gets high marks.

2vancouverdeb
Mar 18, 2013, 4:31am Top

Great review!Thumbed it! I read it last year sometime and I really loved it! It's a lovely , intriguing read! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it, Belva!

3rainpebble
Edited: Mar 18, 2013, 11:07am Top

It was a lovely read Deb. I am jealous for those who have it yet ahead of them. So good. Oh, & thanx for the thumb. :-)

4raidergirl3
Mar 18, 2013, 1:10pm Top

I picked it up this weekend while visiting my sister. A 'spring break' present to myself. I didn't read your review, but I get enough to know you liked it.

5rainpebble
Mar 18, 2013, 11:28pm Top

I really liked it raider and I hope that when you get around to it that you do as well.

6ddale
Apr 26, 2013, 3:44pm Top

I just finished this book today. I really enjoyed it.

7sally906
Apr 26, 2013, 6:22pm Top

I have it marked to read later this year as part of a reading challenge. I have heard mostly good things about it :)

8MrsRead
May 27, 2013, 2:28pm Top

I finished this just a few days ago and I keep thinking about it, about life on Janus, especially for a child. Beautiful. There is something so romantic about a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere and everywhere.

Group: Orange January/July

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