WHEN you are a lover of books, of fiction novels particularly, there is simply no end to new bittersweet experiences: living other people’s lives, travelling to other places, indulging in others’ memories. I have always loved how William Styron put it: “A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” How true.
I guess I would always be a sucker for heartrending books, although I make it a point to alternate between fun reads and tearjerkers…well, because my heart needs sufficient rest before I move on to the next sad read. That has always been my practice until recently, and I somewhat regret it.
It took me around 6 months to finish “The End of Your Life Book Club” (Will Schwalbe, 2012), another heartbreaking novel, a biographical piece about a dying mom and his son who formed a “book club” in her remaining days, and discussed their lives in the light of books they read for their book club sessions.
A bit of a fangirl trivia here: I sent an email to Mr. Schwalbe, praising his work and thanking him for the wonderful story shared through his book. He emailed me back, thanking me and imparting good words likewise about SunStar articles attached to my email likewise written when my Mama was in the hospital, days before her demise. Not only that, but he had replied-tweet to my tweets more than a couple of times (and counting…). Fangurl bucket list item “get chummy with a New York bestseller author”…check! Kind of.
So after reading that poignant novel I should have moved on to the latest Emily Giffin, or the newest Sophie Kinsella novel, but no…I started skimming through the first few pages of “The Light Between Oceans” (M.L. Steadman, 2012) and was instantly hooked.
I am a lover of lighthouses and the description of the Janus Rock lighthouse and the island where it is found is simply breathtaking. This novel tells the story of a childless couple living in the lighthouse, the husband being its keeper for several years, who found a boat along the shore with a crying baby and a dead man.
The wife had suffered several miscarriages and was on the verge of losing her mind because of that; while the husband was an ex-soldier who had always been a strict follower of rules, a by-the-book lighthouse keeper. Based on that premise I assume you have an idea where the story is going.
I will not go into the details of the book, and assume you will want to read it for yourselves. Suffice it to say it is a “heavy” read, and you will suffer through being conflicted about your own beliefs and thoughts as you get involved in the lives of the Sherbournes.
It is seldom that you find a story where you do not exactly know what you want to happen in the end, whom among the characters you empathize with, whom you actually condemn.
For most part of the book I felt lost, dazed and conflicted, stuck between being a mother (whether biological or adoptive) and a daughter. I felt like I was drowning, seasick and homesick, all in one book. It is a deliciously painful read, one of the many still on my list.