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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

"The Light Between Oceans" by M L Stedman

Tom, veteran of the trenches in WW1 and his wife Izzy live on a lonely Australian island  where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet, manning the lighthouse there. Just after Izzy has lost a baby a boat washes up on the island containing a dead man and a baby girl. Izzy, mad with grief, determines to adopt the baby. Tom has doubts.

The stunning first page has Izzy  tending a new grave and whispering "and lead us not into temptation".

The story takes a while to get going. It is careful to build up the rights and the wrongs and the tensions. But when things break down they cascade like a bloody avalanche.

There is a brilliant moment of high drama when, just after a vase is thrown at a policeman, we get this paragraph:
"He stood perfectly still. The curtain flapped with the breeze. A fat blowfly buzzed against the fly wire. A last fragment of glass gave a dull tinkle as it finally succumbed to gravity."
Perfect change of pace. Perfect suspension of the drama. Take the reader to the wire and then look out of the bloody window! Brilliant.
Other wonderful moments:

  • "A single fat cloud snailed across the late-April sky" (p 13)
  • "the boy you'd suckled, bathed, scolded and cried over, was - well - wasn't." (p 32)
  • "thin as a yard of pump water" (p 41)
  • "He must turn to something solid, because if he didn't, who knew where his mind or his soul could blow away to, like a balloon without ballast." (p 53)
  • "If a wife lost her husband ... she was now a widow. A husband became a widower. But if a parent lost a child, there was no special label for their grief. They were still just a mother or a father, even if they no longer had a son or a daughter." (p 171)
  • "The contract to forget is as important as any promise to remember. Children can grow up having no knowledge of any indiscretion of their father in his youth ... History is that which is agreed upon by mutual consent." (p 214)
  • "Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes: so tangled up that you can't tell which is which until you've shot 'em both, and then it's too late." (p 247)

A great read. June 2017; 461 pages

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