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Karen Maitland
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Daniel James Brown
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David Mitchell

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel - M.L. Stedman Following World War I thousands of soldiers returned home broken, many bodily, but there were also those whose spirit was broken. Tom Sherbourne was one such soldier. He suffered from extreme survivor's guilt and the only way he could think to survive was through a solitary existence, so he trained as a lighthouse keeper. When he took the posting on the remote Janus Point, 100 miles from the Australian coast, he didn't expect to fall in love. Life was hard for both him and his wife and it seemed a gift from God when a boat, occupied by a dead man and living baby appeared on their shores. Making the child a part of their lives and homes would have far greater consequences than either Tom or his wife Isabel could have ever anticipated.

Let me start with what I did like, the writing. I loved reading about the landscape of the coast of western Australia and Janus Point as well as the ocean and skies. The story however just about killed me. I can put up with emotional manipulation in books geared towards a young audience, but I cannot accept it in a book meant for adults. There are better ways to tell a story than this. The whole time I was reading I felt like the author was trying too hard to force a particular emotional response. This left me annoyed and this annoyance left me not caring at all what happened to any of the characters except for the child. I found Isabel and Hannah's characters particularly hard to sympathize with, though I'm sure, as a mother, they are the two for whom I should have had the most empathy.

I read this novel for my book club, and I already know that my opinion is definitely not shared by the others in the group. Though the discussion has yet to take place, there has been much mention of tears and heartbreak. So perhaps it would be wise to take my opinion with a grain of salt. This is a debut novel, and the author's skill as a writer is definitely evident, so I would consider giving them a second chance, but I would think long and hard before I picked up another book.