'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.