I believe I am the third or fourth Cannonballer to post a review on M.L Stedman’s the Light Between Oceans this week alone; I would imagine we are all Pajiba readers as well who happened to see the trailer for the movie adaptation the site recently posted.
Tom Sherbourne came to tend the lighthouse on Janus, a tiny island off the coast of Australia, after several years at the front lines of WWI. Before he leaves for a several years stay he meets Isabel in the coastal town of Partageuse and the two begin a correspondence that leads to marriage. Isabel joins Tom on Janus; after several years and several miscarriages the two discover a marooned boat on the coastline of Janus; there is a dead man, a woman’s cardigan and an infant. In her grief, Isabel begs Tom to keep the discovery off the lighthouse record books and to claim the child as their own, believing the cardigan signifies a mother dead at sea.
A few years after their discovery the couple is raising the baby as their own, calling her Lucy. They take her to Partageuse on leave where they hear the story of Hannah Roennfedt, a woman whose husband was fleeing from a town mob and climbed into a boat with their infant daughter and never returned. It is impossible for Tom and Isabel to ignore the facts in front of them but they continue the charade that Lucy is theirs. Eventually, Tom’s conscience gets the best of him and he makes a mistake that brings the whole to light.
“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”
I’m not a parent, so my reaction to the ensuing legal woes of the Sherbournes was that there was a fairly ambiguous right or wrong moral answer. I imagine someone who has actually raised a child might see things differently than I do and I’m beginning to realize I should start reading all the “hard if you have children” books on my to read list before my husband and I start a family of our own!
“When it comes to their kids, parents are all just instinct and hope. And fear. Rules and laws fly straight out the window.”