Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meeting of January 26, 2015

The Light Between Oceans 
For our first meeting of 2015, we met at Colette's, with Betty hosting.  Under discussion was The Light Between Oceans (Betty's choice). She served yummy pinwheel sandwiches and cheese, a pineapple upside down cake, and Australian wines, in honour of the book.   Beth, Colette, Shirley, Carla, Janet, Jolene, and Betty attended, with Linda and Michèle joining us from Florida via Skype.

Betty told us a little about the author, M. L. Stedman, a London lawyer who researched details for the book at a British library. She began her writing career in 1997.  This was her debut novel, set in her native Australia.  Ms. Stedman commented that the novel almost wrote itself as the characters unfolded in her mind; she even found herself having to stop protecting Tom as she wrote.
The book wrestles with complex moral dilemmas and various forms of mental illness and grief.  The two central characters, Isabel and Tom, decide to secretly claim as their own a baby washed up in a boat on their isolated lighthouse island.
Reviews were mixed, but all of us had strong reactions--we ached for many of the people and felt anxious and upset at the decisions being made; the ending would have been so different, and perhaps more appealing, had Isabel and Tom notified authorities and returned the baby to her grieving birth mother early on.  From a writing point of view, we commented that the setting was beautifully painted, but many found the dialogue stilted and coincidences forced.  The life lesson was that deception is harmful.  There is nothing better than the truth, however painful.
Other news--Linda's friend Norma spoke to us via Skype, telling us about a neighbour of hers who worked at Bletchley Park, famous for its code-breaking and prominent in one of our 2014 books--A Man called Intrepid.  We also awarded a prize to the 2014 winner of best book club read The Rosie Project, Beth's choice.  We had such good club selections last year that the race was very tight. May that be the case as we move forward in 2015!

Happy reading.