Friday, October 11, 2013

Fantastic Fiction

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page
and feel a little as if you have lost a friend
~ Paul Sweeney
The above quote captures the way the way I felt when I recently finished reading, "The Light Between Oceans." by M.L. Stedman.
If you are looking for a book of fiction that will transport you to another time and place, then I would highly recommend "The Light Between Oceans" to you.  It is beautifully written and for a first novel, an amazing piece of storytelling.

Essentially, it is a story of stunning loss, healing, the resilience of love and the consequences of choice.

Tom Sherbourne, who has just returned to Australia after four combat filled years on the Western Front, takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock for the stability and peace of living on an island.  Janus Rock is nearly a day's journey by boat to the nearest coast.  Tom falls in love with Isabel, a young and headstrong girl who returns his affection.  They get married and Tom brings Isabel to the isolated island. 
Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby's cries somewhere near a beach.  She discovers that boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
I won't tell you anymore for you need to read it for yourself.
I would like to point out a particular passage from the book which struck me for its simplicity, clarity and truth.  This will give you a flavor of M.L. Stedman's insight and beautiful touch with regard to the power of letting go of a hurt, a loss or of a heartbreaking tragedy:
"She was about to go back inside when she caught sight of the Cape gooseberry bush, and remembered that terrible day after Grace's return when her daughter had wedged herself behind it.  As she sank to her knees in the grass and sobbed, the memory of a conversation with Frank floated into her awareness.  "but how?  How can you just get over these things, darling?" she had asked him.  "You've had so much strife but you're always happy.  How do you do it?"
"I choose to," he said.  "I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget."
"But it's not that easy."
He smiled that Frank smile.  "Oh , but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting.  You only have to forgive once.  To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.  You have to keep remembering all the bad things."  He laughed, pretending to wipe sweat from his brow.  "I would have to make a list, a very, very, long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount.  That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No" -- his voice became sober -- "we always have a choice.  All of us."

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