The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
Published: July 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Summary: Tom Sherbourne takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast of Australia. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
Mini Review: I adored this book, most especially for its moral complexity. As many people have already read and raved over it, and many more have seen the film, I’ll keep this brief. Even though I stand by “each woman is a little off her rocker,” it still doesn’t solve the moral, emotional, judicial, and psychological issue at hand. Is the baby better off with the mother it knows, or the mother who birthed her? Are the mothers well within her rights to claim the child as her own? Are they even in the right mental state? It is impossible to know, especially with the evidence presented in this book, what is “right” or “wrong,” and even with the issue resolved, Stedman leaves threads of the story hanging in just the right way to make you continue to wonder.
Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
Published: October 2009
Summary: Anluan has been crippled since childhood, part of a curse that has besieged his family and his home of Whistling Tor. But when the young scribe Caitrin is retained to sort through family documents, she brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows. But to truly free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life-and their love…
Mini Review: This was going to be the most perfect read ever, just based on this formula alone: Marillier + Beauty and the Beast + ancient Ireland. But it didn’t quite live up to my own expectations. While I didn’t fall in love with it, Marillier continues to astound me with her storytelling and world-building abilities. She has a way of utilizing the bare bones of a familiar fairy tale and making it entirely her own. She doesn’t rely on all the aspects we’re familiar with — just the important ones. Her characters are singular and developed, and the setting and atmosphere enchanting.
This qualifies as book 1 of 5 library books in 2017.