Over recent years I have read several books that have all won prestigious book prizes. With many of them I have wondered just what the hype was all about, or was I being a complete philistine and missing the point, or not reading deep enough.
Then about two weeks ago a librarian and member of my book group presented me with my reserved copy of the Devon libraries summer read; The Light Between Oceans.
I started reading over the weekend and feel very tired today as I was awake finishing this book into the early hours.
The scene of the story is set when Tom, a decorated war hero from the First World War returns to Australia and is given the chance to work temporarily at a lighthouse situated off the Australian coast, on a fictitious island called Janus.
Tom is ready for the peace and quiet of island living.Coming to terms with his war time terrors and survivors guilt he sets about living for months on the island, where the methodical process of keeping the lighthouse functioning becomes his anchor.
On a period of leave a few months later he reacquaints himself with a local girl from the shore and they spend much time together, and eventually the decision is made, Tom will marry Isabel.
It is during their time on the island that they encounter a rowing boat upon the rugged coast line of the island. The inhabitants are a dead man and a young, breathing baby. Isabel has had numerous miscarriages and this seems to her to be divine intervention. A baby for them to love and care for.
Tom struggles between duty to the procedural issues of the lighthouse, to his wife and to his own happiness. Ultimately Tom's struggle with his own conscience and doing the right thing tears his and Isabel's life apart, but once the wheels have started to turn there is no going back.
This was a beautiful book, with a lovely well researched story. There is much more that I could share with you, but I won't. Locate a copy and read it! For me this has the wow factor that many of the books that win prestigious book prizes lack. The book not only was well researched, but delivered a moral and ethical dilemma and as I turned the pages I wondered what I would have done in Isabel and Tom's shoes.