I had seen a bit of a buzz about this book on Twitter. It had its own hashtag and everytime I saw#lightbetweenoceans appear I was more and more intrigued.
I was thrilled, therefore, to receive a copy in the post this week. With a handwritten note from Marianne, at the publishers, that said “if this book does not break your heart you are not the person I thought you were”.
The book begins in April 1926, darts back to 1918 and ends in 1950. It centres around Tom, a young war veteran who is now a Lightkeeper on Janus Rock, an island off the coast of Australia. We see him fall in love whilst on leave and eventually marry Izzy. A young girl who has grown up in Partageuse. A small town in Australia where her dad is Headmaster and everybody knows everybody else.
What happens next is a real rollercoaster of a ride. The way the story is written by M L Stedman you are drawn in. You are there. You can sense the isolation on that island. You can feel the salt spray with every crashing wave. You understand the constellation of the stars as well as Tom does. You can hear the seagulls. You understand having to wait three months for the next supply ship to bring food and provisions. You know how important the work of the Lightkeeper is and how he takes his duties very seriously.
When one day a boat washes ashore with a body of a man and a two month old baby who is barely alive in it Tom and Izzy’s make a decision that will change their lives forever. And those of other people.
The tag line on the book is “This is a story of right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same”. The line for me that sums it up is close to the end: “Once a child gets into your heart, there’s no right or wrong about it”.
And that gives you a clue to the plot. I won’t tell you anymore as I don’t want to spoil it.
Forget that it is set in 1926. That would normally put me off a book. Pencil yourself out in your diary for two days. Sit down and become absorbed in it. You will devour this book and whilst you turn every page wanting to know what happens next you will mourn the fact it is now finished.
Normally I get really angry when mid January we see film posters proclaiming “Film of the year”. How the hell can you make that decision, two weeks into it? But, for me, this book IS “Book of the Year.
And will surely be Film of the Year when it comes out (no idea who owns the film rights but by God somebody better snap them up quick or I am going to).
And yes, Marianne, it did break my heart.
Published by Doubleday on April 26th RRP £12.99