An emotional 4 Stars "Your family is never in your past. You carry it around with you everywhere."
This quote sums up much of what I took away from the book. The Light Between Oceans
is a times a sentimental look at family and relationships and portrait of loss and regret. The story tells that pain and regret ignored never dies. Like your family, it never stays in the past. It becomes part of what you are and ultimately, "I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of future, you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past."
This may paint a morose picture but this is by no means a brooding novel where the characters and locked in anger and regret. Rather, it a story of trying to create a life where this is part of your history.
The setting is Australia in the 1920's. The main character, Tom, is a soldier returned from war. Like many soldiers returning from battle, the horrors of war have left a lasting imprint and permanent, silent scars. Tom takes a job at a remote lighthouse where there is not other living soul and he takes solace is the regimented, organized and rule based existence of a lighthouse keeper. He unexpectedly finds love in Isabel, a young free spirit and they create a new life on their island. After many years, this is changed by the arrival of an unexpected child. Following this...well, you have to read the book to see what happens.
Without a doubt, this is the most emotional book I have read in 2013. You cannot help but think of your own family and your own children while reading this novel. Despite my emotional response to the book, I cannot give it 5 stars. The raw emotion of the book serves to cover some of its flaws.
The biggest flaw is in the storytelling. At times, the author sacrifices plot and character development in exchange for sentimentality. Clearly, M.L. Stedman want you to feel the raw, unfettered emotion of the characters but at times, the emotion feels like it is included for the sake of sentimentality or to cover up weak points in the plot.
Overall, the book get my recommendation. While some of major plot turns are weak and there is a reliance on chance events and chance meetings, the book is a visceral experience. It is about feeling, grieving and the fight for restoration. While the book did not leave me feeling satisfied, I don't believe it was meant to. In this case, I can accept that.
For anyone who enjoyed this novels or thinks they may enjoy it, I would also recommend [b:The Starboard Sea|12151801|The Starboard Sea|Amber Dermont|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1319735193s/12151801.jpg|17122446] by [a:Amber Dermont|5072128|Amber Dermont|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1319742947p2/5072128.jpg]. This is less well known but deals with some of the same themes and is very well written.