'They break the rules and follow their hearts.
What happens next will break yours.'
Well, it sure did for me. It has been a long time since I cried over a book. The Light between Oceans is an extraordinary book. I cried not once but twice. It broke my heart when the author M L Stedman portrayed one man's true love for his wife and two women's true love for the same child so beautifully, so movingly. Here I am sitting in the patio of my hotel room in Phuket in the early morning and shedding silent tears as I read the final chapters of this powerful book. I am writing this review immediately to capture my emotions so as to convey to you what you might encounter as well when you read this incredible novel.
It was my older daughter Ranya who picked this novel out for me while shopping randomly in a bookstore in a mall near my home in Singapore. She has a certain knack for picking out good books. I just don't know how she does it!
Diving into the book proper, the novel revolves around Tom Sherbourne, who after serving in the war, takes up a job as a lighthouse keeper in Janus Rock, Australia in 1926. He soon marries a young, bold and loving girl Isabel on the mainland, who moves in with him to the deserted island where only the two of them populate. Years later after 2 miscarriages and 1 stillbirth, when Isabel had given up all hope of having a baby, a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Against Tom's better judgement, Isabel decides to keep the baby which turns out to be a devastating decision.
M L Stedman's debut 2012 novel captures one man's internal struggle between doing the right thing and giving his beloved wife the only thing she has longed for - a child. We are swept into a world where there is no right answer and where justice for one person is another's tragic loss. The Light Between Oceans is a deeply moving, exquisite and unforgettable novel.
Oh yes ! Did I mention that this novel has been adapted into a movie too? Produced by Dreamworks and released by Touchstone pictures in September 2016. It stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz. As I have mentioned before, I will not be expecting too much out of the movie, but I will still watch it online to have a sense of the settings, the characters and to figure out how the producers captured the novel.
Available in local bookstores for S$20 or at Amazon for US$ 10. It is a New York Times Bestseller and over 2 million copies have been sold worldwide. Read it - you won't regret it.
Update as at 22 Dec - just saw the movie one sitting. 2hrs and 20 mins. It didn't seem that long though. I wouldn't say it was badly taken. Again the movie couldn't capture the real raw emotions of Tom, Isabel and the other characters. The saving grace was that the soundtrack was beautiful. The same soulful music I had heard somewhere. When I checked to see who composed it - Surprise surprise it was the same music composer who produced Harry Potter soundtrack - Alexander Desplat. Anyone who knows Harry Potter in and out ( like my still totally Potter crazy daughter Riya) will know the works of this amazing music producer. My favourite of the compositions was Tom.
My first thought when I began reading this book - oh gosh! 486 pages? How will I finish it in time for my other novels? I have a huge pile of books that are sitting quite snugly next to me on my bedside table. I have a habit of ordering as many books as I can online on Amazon. Since its coming from America and I want to save on shipping, I do mass ordering of books - sometimes forgetting that I already own the same book! Recently I had ordered Before I go to Sleep by S J Watson only to reaise that I had the earlier edition of the same book collecting dust in my study cupboard!! Plus I am more into psychological thrillers these days because of my recent reading of The Girl on the Train. So I was pondering as to whether I will find Big Little Lies interesting (I had ordered this book much earler) ...But I managed to finish this novel in a week!
Big Little Lies is a 2014 novel written by Liane Moriarty. Her main inspiration for the story came from a radio interview she heard where a woman recounted her parents' abusive relationship. Even as an adult, she would hide under her bed to escape from her parents' screaming matches - a scene she incorporated into the novel. This novel is considered as one of the top 10 books that every book club should discuss. Well we haven't discussed it yet in our Book Club. But I think we'll lay off Liane Moriarty for a while having already discussed two of her books recently.
Big Little Lies is essentially about the friendship between 3 women who are at crossroads of their lives. Madeline, Jane and Celeste all have their kids entering kindergarten at Perriwee Public School. Jane's son Ziggy is accused of bullying another classmate which he vehemently denies. While discussing the lives of these 3 women and how the parents handle Ziggy's supposed bullying, the novel leads us to the Trivia Night where there is a murder.
This is a women's murder mystery. Till the end, I didn't know who is going to be murdered and who does it. Suspenseful and at times hilarious, I liked the way this book is written - it is a mix of the narration of the weeks leading up to Trivia Night ending with snippets of interviews given by the people involved after that dreadful night.There are many twists along the way which kept me hooked. It addresses many serious issues like bullying in schools, domestic violence, single motherhood, beauty obsessed society.
On the downside, I did feel there was too much attention given to detail - the reader doesn't need to know that Celeste lived in a massive tall sprawling house with soaring cathedral ceilings etc. A mansion would have sufficed, don't you think? I dislike draggy overly descriptive books - Yawn. Books that go straight to the point interests me like The Girl on The Train. I gave up Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan after the first few chapters!! Too much details!! Too much. ( I am using much instead of many on purpose - they are uncountable !)
Overall, I would recommend this book if you don't have anything else good to read. It is not a dark book and definitely not scary. It did raise a few questions in my head when reading certain parts like
'Sometimes, doing the wrong thing was also right'
'The mother sets the definitive tone in every family'
'There are so many levels of evil in this world'
Big Little Lies has been made into a TV series starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. Watch the series if you don't feel like reading 486 pages. But do be prepared to be disappointed - in my experience, the movie or the Tv series is never as good as the novel. I watched the movies Me Before You and The Girl on the Train and they both failed to capture and deliver the essence and drama of the novels. Can't blame the producer - he/she has to squeeze an entire novel into so few hours. Anyway, get this novel at Amazon for around US$10 or at your local bookstore. Happy reading!