“Izz, I’ve learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past.”

ImageEach month when the Brown Baggers gather, we’ll often start with an introduction to the author and their background. While it doesn’t always impact our interpretation or feelings about the writing itself, it adds another dimension to our discussion. While preparing for our monthly meeting, the glaring lack of information about M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans, became just as noticeable as a richly detailed background. Perhaps it is only appropriate that this author seems so mysterious, as secrecy is such an important part of the novel.

At the heart of this novel is a complex moral dilemma and group members were eager to share their take on the plot. Each character had his or her own support within the group — some more than others, but few if any were deemed completely unsympathetic. Many of us agreed that Stedman’s rotating narrative effectively forced the reader to view multiple sides of the story. It also allowed insight into how peripheral characters were affected, such as Isabel’s parents, or Hannah’s sister and father. Group members enjoyed a spirited debate about the “right” way various situations should have been handled. Another vital part of the book was the vivid description of natural surroundings. This made for a jarring contrast between the social civility of the mainland town and the savage beauty of the fictional Janus Island.

While the author is quiet on many of her personal details, she has done some interviews about the book:

Interview with The Age (Australian newspaper)

Interview with the Christian Science Monitor

Interview with Foyles (British bookstore)

Make sure to join the Brown Baggers at their next meeting on March 13 (a week early!) to discuss True Grit by Charles Portis, the 2014 Big Read title. JMRL will be offering a variety of related programs all month — see you there, pardner.


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