Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Light Between Oceans

There were only five people present at this month’s meeting due to a lot of members being on holiday or having other commitments.  Despite this, the discussion was lively and we all enjoyed the lemon cake which Amy brought along!

Everybody enjoyed this book.  It was compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which has been our favourite book so far.  We liked the style of the writing and found it easy to read.

We spent a lot of time discussing whether Tom and Isobel did the right thing in keeping the baby.    We felt that Isobel’s decision was influenced by the fact that she had just lost a baby of her own, and also that she had seen the orphanage her friend’s baby had been sent to and knew what would happen if both parents had died and she and Tom didn’t keep the baby.  There is no doubt that they had a lot of love to give and if they had reported what had happened and it had transpired that the mother was also dead, Lucy’s life would have been a much less happy one.  So, given the circumstances as they presented themselves, we felt we could not blame her for the decision she made.  We then discussed whether it was right to disobey the law and decided that it is sometimes for the best, but we felt that if Tom had recorded what had happened in the book that would have been better, because then whatever happened they could say that they did what they thought best at the time.  But by not recording the event, he made it clear that he knew it was wrong, which was damning evidence when the truth finally emerged.

We also discussed what was best for Lucy/Grace.  She was eventually taken from a home and people that she loved and given to a family who, even though they were her blood relatives, she did not know at all.  We related that to true-life stories that have been in the news where adopted children are taken from loving families to be given back to their birth parents and how much it upsets everyone when this happens.  We concluded that there is no right or wrong in this situation and that the whole thing is just very sad.  We thought that the original wrong-doing was the persecution of Franz which led to him jumping into the boat with the baby.  Everything that was done thereafter was done for good-hearted reasons and might be excused, but this kind of bullying was definitely wrong.  However, it was mentioned that you could go back even beyond that to the causes of the war which made people hate the Germans so there is a continuum of events and the decisions made at each point influence the future.

We had all thought at one point that the person leaving the notes might be Isobel, and when we found out it was actually Tom after all we did feel that that was a kind of a betrayal on his part, even though, in the strictest sense, it was “the right thing to do”.  We were pleased that Tom and Isobel came back together at the end and we wished that Lucy/Grace had managed to get there before Isobel died as we felt sad that she didn’t get to see her again.  In some ways that was felt to be her punishment but we thought that the axiom “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” held true.

Overall, everyone really enjoyed the book and it moved many to tears.

The overall score for this book was 9 out of 10 and the people present declared it their favourite so far!

The Light Between Oceans - Questions


Here is a link and some questions about this months book that i thought you might find interesting.
This is an interview with the author about the book ** SPOILER ALERT** Do not read this until you have read the entire book.

- Tom is haunted by what he witnessed—and what he did—during his enlistment in World War I. The narrator reflects that he’s not “one of the men whose legs trailed by a hank of sinews, or whose guts cascaded from their casing like slithering eels….But he’s scarred all the same, having to live in the same skin as the man who did the things that needed to be done back then.” (page 10) How do you think Tom’s experiences as a soldier impact his decisions throughout the novel? What other outside elements, like the war, influences the narrative?

- Which characters won your sympathy and why? Did this change over the course of the novel? Did your notion of what was best or right shift in the course of your reading?

- M.L. Stedman makes it clear that there is no one perfect answer to the question of who should raise Grace/Lucy. She seems to undermine all notions of absolutes. It is clear that she will not dismiss all Germans as evil either. There is Hannah’s husband, ripe for persecution, and yet he is utterly innocent. Discuss the places in the novel where easy certainty turns out to be wrong.

- What did you think of the conclusion of the novel? What emotions did you feel at the story’s end? Did it turn out as you expected? Were you satisfied?

See you all on 28th March 2014!