M. L. Stedman - The Light Between Oceans
I made sure that I read this book before seeing the film, as it's had so much hype. But the book didn't disappoint. It opens with the event that changes the lives of Tom Sherbourne and his wife, Izzy. A boat is washed up on the remote island off the Australian coast where they live alone, where Tom is the lighthouse keeper. In the boat is a dead man - and a living baby. Izzy believes the baby girl is a gift to them to make up for the three babies she has lost, and soon is so attached to the child, whom she names Lucy, that Tom can't think of tearing them apart. He had a hard childhood, followed by military service in World War I, and his wife has brought new meaning to his life. The novel raises many moral questions about truth, love, blame, and compassion. Sumptuous description, atmospheric and emotional. Can the film live up to the book? I'll find out soon.
Update just before publishing this: I enjoyed the film, but to me the book had more depth, and I'm glad I read it first.
Louise Douglas - The House by the Sea
Edie travels from England to Sicily after her mother-in-law Anna dies, to deal with the inheritance of the family's crumbling villa. She has to meet up with her estranged ex-husband, Joe. There is so much emotional turmoil between them, as Edie still blames Anna for the death of their young son Daniel, ten years earlier. But somehow as they have to sort out the will, the villa and its secrets embrace Edie, and she discovers that all is not as it seems. Many resentments and hurts are exposed as she peels away the layers that have kept her insulated in the past years, face her grief and find out if she can finally heal. Emotionally raw, and atmospheric in setting, the novel also opens a window into Sicilian family life.
This novel is nominated for an award by the Romantic Novelists' Association, results to be announced on 8th March.
Victoria Hislop - The Island
Alexis arrives in Crete for a holiday with her boyfriend, pondering on the future of their relationship. It's also the island where her mother was born and grew up, though Sofia has never talked about her life before her marriage. But at last she has revealed to Alexis the location of her birthplace, and given her the name of Fotini, a local woman who knew her family. Understanding that her relationship with Ed is faltering, Alexis leaves him at the hotel and takes a solo trip to the village of Plaka. Here she searches out Fotini, and listens with incredulity to the story which she tells. It is irrevocably bound to the small island off the coast, Spinalonga, a place of suffering, but from which hope is born. A sweeping story of tragedy and new beginnings - a compelling read.