Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
The Light Between Oceans was one of the first books I added to my TBR when I created my Goodreads account and I finally had a chance to cross it off my list, thanks to Overdrive and my library. I listened to this audiobook and actually struggled a bit with it at the start. The narrator’s voice had extreme highs and lows and I couldn’t seem to find a suitable volume to listen at. I wasn’t too keen on his voice and actually considered throwing in the towel with the book. Luckily, the story caught my attention soon after and I didn’t give up because it became one of the best books I had ever read/listened to.
I love stories that allow me to see gray areas in life. The main characters’ decisions’ were morally ambiguous, making this a truly heartwrenching story. I couldn’t imagine being in the situation Isabel and Tom found themselves in. I think as a woman, it was easy to relate to the struggles of both of the women in this story, but my heart really broke for Tom. He was put in between a rock and a hard place, literally. Throughout the whole story, it was incredibly difficult to choose a “side” when every line had been blurred.
I think a lot of readers might consider this a slow read, but I found it to be somewhat peaceful. I wonder how I would have fared with the print book, however. Regardless, the idea of living on the island and keeping up with the lighthouse sounds quite appealing in some ways. It was almost like an extended honeymoon for Isabel and Tom and they were able to grow into their marriage without the interference of outsiders. The simplicity of this book, in the beginning, was incredibly beautiful. As the story pushed forward, I was impressed by the inventive storyline and the subjects it tackled. It packed quite an emotional punch and had me bawling my eyes out as it concluded.
Shortly after finishing the audiobook, I rented the movie and was extremely happy to see how the book was brought to life. In basically every regard, it was exactly as I imagined. I was interested to learn the actors of Tom and Isabel (Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander) ended up married in real life after meeting on the set of this movie. Their chemistry seemed palpable, so it was easy to imagine their relationship being able to bloom on the set of such an intimate movie. Overall, I was very pleased with both the book and the movie adaption of The Light Between Oceans.
Rating: 5 stars