. Hi reading friends– Just finished reading a pair of books, both including “light” in the title. Both penned by Australian authors. And happily, both I would heartily recommend to you…
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M.L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans tells the story of WWI veteran, Tom Stelbourne. After the war he takes the job tending an isolated lights house, on an island off western coast of Australia. And then he meets Isabel, lively and independent back on the mainland. They marry and she joins him in the solitary life of Janus Island.
As time passes, Isabel loses 3 babies and then one day, a boat washes ashore. In it they find a new born baby and her dead father. Meticulous Tom want to report the baby, but Isabel sees baby Lucy as a gift from God. They claim her as their own. The results are poignant and tragic as they later discover the mother of baby Lucy.
From that point come so many plot twists and turns. You can’t know what’s coming. I cared about the lives of these flawed characters and felt my allegiance turning as the story progressed. The thorny ethical problems, the struggles of Tom and Isabel and the eventual resolution, pull your through the story. Also I loved the descriptions of the life in 1920’s Australia, the beauty of the simple light keeper’s life, the sweetness of Tom and Isabel’s love story. I think you might like it as well.
P.S. I read that this book will be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg.
THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr
It’s been a long while since I’ve read a book I’ve loved as much as The Light We Cannot See. Set in Germany and Occupied France of WWII, it shows an intimate, human side of the war through the stories of a blind French girl and a brilliant orphaned German boy.
Marie Laure lives with her father, the lock master of the Parisian Museum of Natural History. As the Germans come to occupy Paris, twelve year old Marie Laure flees with her father and with perhaps the most valuable jewel of the museum’s collection to a seaside town of Saint Malo, to find shelter with an eccentric great uncle.
Werner lives in an orphan home with his sister Jutta. They discover and repair a broken radio and listen to the world beyond. In time, Werner is discovered as a mechanical prodigy and is sent to a brutal academy for Hitler youth and then on to the grim life of a German soldier.
Their two stories unfold in short alternating chapters. The tightly woven plot hurdles along at a quick pace. You see the war through their experiences. There are a few brutal moments, but mostly you follow their days through a gripping set of intricate circumstances that eventually cause their paths to cross.
You are also acquainted with the war damaged great uncle Entienne who rises to the occasion, the crusty house keeper who fights her own slice of the war, the doting father who shelters his daughter, the giant of a German infantryman who turns out to be a loyal companion. I devoured this 500 page book in a couple days, all the time wishing it wouldn’t end. No wonder Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize for this story.