I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.
The Light Between Oceans was a story that dealt with deep, important issues with an unusual setting: a small isolated island, home to a lighthouse.
Tom is a lighthouse keeper at Janus Rock, a half a day's boat ride from the coast of Australia, and not long after, he brings home a wife: Isabel. The two are happy and in love, at first, and the only two occupants on the island. However, after two miscarriages and a stillbirth, the cracks are starting to show in Isabel, understandably. Not long after the stillbirth, a small boat washes up on the island, its occupants are a dead man and a crying baby. The decision that Tom and Isabel make afterward affects the lives of more than just the few people on that island. Assuming that the mother is dead, they keep the baby, passing it off as their own.
Most of the story takes place on the island, so we're left with the the turmoil inside the minds of Tom and Isabel. And after the month they get on land, it gets even worse, for not only do they find out the mother of the child, but that she is very much alive. The turmoil swirls more and the tension in the marriage is at an all time high. Guilt is affecting one of them more than the other, and I could almost feel it through the pages.
The last hundred pages dragged a bit. With a hundred pages left, the main event has already happened, and I was wondering how the last part of the story was going to fill out. We're met with the aftershocks of what has happened, seeing how the world is from the point-of-view of several people. This dragged the story down a bit, with emotions going back and forth. However, the story was pulled back up by the ending, which I was satisfied with.
The writing was very engaging. It was beautiful and read fast, a not so usual combination. Even during the time on the island, with just Tom and Isabel, with Tom taking care of the lighthouse, I wondered how I could not get bored. However, the storytelling didn't let that happened. Surprisingly, with not so much happening, I couldn't read fast enough.
When I finished the book, it gave me a lot to think about: the thin line between right and wrong; morals; doing what's right, even if won't end up good for you; and how a tragic event can affect the mind of someone who used to be so rational and turn them into a desperate mess. I also learned a lot about lighthouses that I never knew before.
A great debut.