Friday, August 2, 2013

Book Club: July

Though this comes a little bit late of the month of July, better to post late than to not post at all.  Right?  So onward we go!

 (Image from Goodreads)

What would you do if a gift arrived in your lap of something you have repeatedly lost?  This month’s book club book was The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  Set in Australia after the first world war, soldier Tom Sherbourne finds employment as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock.  Isolated for months at a time from social interaction and barred from returning to the mainland for years at a time, Tom finds solace in the solitude of his job on the rock.

Eventually back on land, he meets the feisty Isabel Graysmark.  Their courtship is quick and eventually she joins him in matrimony and life on Janus.  The two personalities of the husband and wife mirror the imagery of Janus, the god with two faces.  Their relationship blossoms for a time on the island, but after Isabel suffers numerous miscarriages, their marriage begins to flounder.

A boat then crashes ashore, and inside are a dead man and a child.  Instead of reporting the finding of the baby, Isabel insists they tell everyone it is the child she recently lost because they really don’t know what happened to the mother.  This lie forces Tom into uncomfortable territory with his job and his relationship.  But the child is raised and loved by them.  Eventually the two discover the truth, that the child’s mother is alive and still searching for her missing husband and child.  Now Tom and Isabel must choose between what is right and what they desire most.

Since I didn’t enjoy last month’s book at all, I was excited for a fresh start and I wasn’t disappointed.  The differences in Tom and Isabel’s characters reflect the differences of the two faces of Janus and how two different people can be one unit.  Their situation is one of pain and grief that could not even begin to understand.  Losing not only one child, but three, would have been unbearable for Isabel.  So when a gift landed in her lap, she did all she could.

The author has a wonderful style that magically transported you to the isolated Janus Rock.  You could easily picture the beautiful, yet dangerous, scenery.  It’s a painful story, but one that is gently shared.

Some quotes I enjoyed:

“Things turned up in their own time, in their own way.” pg.5

“But he’s scarred all the same, having to live in the same skin as the man who did the things that needed to be done back then.  He carries that other shadow; which is cast inward.” pg. 10

“He was still taking stock of this girl and her uncanny ability to tip him a fraction off balance.” pg. 40  This is my favorite quote of the book, when Tom is regarding Isabel

“History is what is agreed upon by mutual consent.  That’s how life goes on--protected by the silence that anesthetizes shame.” pg. 155

Overall I thought it was a deep story, that was eloquently told and would recommend the book to others.  Happy reading!

1 comment:

Kara Roost said...

I loved it, yes! For a first novel she has some gorgeous language and it made me want to go to/scared of Australia. The characters, all of the main ones really, are so well mapped out I could sympathize with all of them. And somehow Lucy seemed like THE perfect child; why can't they all be like that? I'm definitely going to be rec'ing it!