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by L.M. Stedman

5*

It begins slowly – which is not to say it’s dull in any way, only that the opening chapters open gently, like a flower, organically, naturally – as we grow to know first Tom, then Isabel, and get to know their insular, isolated island world. Then the baby arrives and the scene is set – though it’s not until almost half-way through the book that the real story begins to unfurl as Tom and Isabel’s perfect life unravels with surprising speed. The Light Between Oceans is not a thriller by any means, but the plot twists and turns as if it were.

It is a stunning work of fiction. Every character is completely believable; their motives, their actions – all entirely sane and credible, utterly realistic. Though every one of the main characters was at odds, everyone was sympathetic, every action and motive was understandable: you could truly feel for them all. Of course, there is no pat, easy, happy ending; the ending – like the beginning and the middle – is quietly surprising, wonderfully well executed and absolutely real.

The glorious writing, the feel for character, the consistently surprising plot, the delightful artistry and skill – are even more astonishing when you find that this is a début novel. I expect to find The Light Between Oceans on more than one awards list. I can’t imagine how it won’t be one of my top novels of this year, and LM Stedman is definitely a writer to watch.

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