The Light Between Oceans
M L Stedman
I loved this book and I think you will too. It is an accomplished debut novel which has had excellent reviews but I stumbled across it accidentally through an Amazon recommendation. M L Stedman writes of a remote coastal town in Australia and a sequence of events which will affect everyone in the town. The novel is tightly plotted but the writing is so assured that the story moves effortlessly from the opening pages, developing the characters and building the community that they live in.
This is not a book blog and I have no intention of analysing the novel because to do so will spoil the elegant way in which the plot unfolds. However, the basis of the story is grief and particularly the loss of a child which I would like to comment on. Our first daughter, Grace, would have been 25 this week and reading the book brought back memories of the early days of our bereavement, the sense of being completely adrift in a world which made no sense.
Every year as we remember Grace I wonder what she would have become. In my mind she has gone through school and on to university, now at the age of 25 she would have graduated and started her adult life. At the age of 25 I was married and so I imagine that for her too. I cannot really know the person that she would have become or the life that she would have lived but I try to hold onto my sense of who she might have been as a way of remembering her.
I have called this post 'the madness of grief' because in my experience you feel incapable of controlling the intensity of your emotions and that can feel like madness. In retrospect, I wonder if bereavement strips off the protective veneer that we each create to deal with the world we live in, leaving behind the person that you really are, so that it is not madness but humanity that is exposed. It takes courage to face the world exposing our grief and it is the limits of that courage M L Stedman explores so thoughtfully. I look forward to her next novel.
Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments.