Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Staff Pick - The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is an incredibly moving novel. This heartfelt story is about the fragility of being human, about forgiveness, love and loss and a heartbreaking exploration of right and wrong.

The story takes place in the town of Point Partageuse, Australia in the 1920s. “A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom, the lighthouse keeper, and his wife Isabel, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours”.

The story touched me emotionally. It made me smile, it made me cry, and it made me sad. At times the characters, Isabel in particular, made me even angry but there always was understanding and sympathy that pulled me back. I was feeling so very deeply sympathetic to all the characters wishing them the best but knowing that it was not possible. The setting in the aftermath of the Great War gave the novel extra power – the power of community where people had come together, “suffered losses together, rejected outsiders together”.

There are moments in the novel that make the reader question their own moral principles and feel inner battles as Tom and Isabel. And there are no easy answers. I think that the ending was not perfect, but it was right.

If you liked The Light Between Oceans check out these historical novels full of family secrets and moral dilemmas:

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

“In Morton’s suspenseful novel, teenage Laurel Nicholson witnesses a terrible crime—and spends the next 50 years of her life keeping the secret and wondering why it happened in the first place”.

The Clover House by Henriette Lazaridis Power

“This stunning debut novel brings to life World War II-era and modern-day Greece—and tells the story of a vibrant family and the tragic secret kept hidden for generations”.

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

“Spanning from the 1930’s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences”.

The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

“From the bestselling author of Sarah’s Key comes an absorbing novel about one woman’s resistance during a time that shook Paris to its very core—and the secret she has kept buried deep in her heart for thirty years”.

The ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin

“A captivating, atmospheric return to historical fiction that is every bit as convincing and engrossing as Martin's landmark Mary Reilly”.

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