Rarely does a book as beautifully-written and atmospheric as ML Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans come along. Set on an island off the southwest coast of Australia in the early 20th Century, it is the story of a childless couple faced with a wrenching moral decision: after three miscarriages, do they secrete the arrival of an infant who washes up on Janus Rock in a small craft with her dead father, or do they report the incident as duty requires? And who better to make this decision than a troubled, reclusive lighthouse-keeper who holds himself to the strictest standards not only when it comes to lighthouse-keeping, but to issues ranging from slight to unimaginable, such as those he experienced as an infantryman during WWI?
A compelling read by any measure, The Light Between Oceans is one of the best books I’ve read recently. Not only is it the portrait of tortured soul who is at once unique and a metaphor for the human condition, it is moving and thoughtful without ever becoming maudlin or trite. Reminiscent of other moody, morally-charged novels such as Elizabeth Kostova’s Dracula and Donna Tart’s The Secret History, The Light Between Oceans promises to be the subject of discussion and admiration for a good long time.