What is the ‘Light between oceans’ about
Tom Sherbourne is a former soldier, now a Great War (First World War) veteran hero, who returns home to Australia. He is offered to take a temporary vacant of a lightkeeper at the Janus Rock island on the Western coast of Australia. The lighthouse between the Pacific and Indian oceans provides signals to the ships. Just before leaving the dryland for the next six months, Tom Sherbourne meets young tiny girl – Isabel Graysmark. The couple spends a day together and then continue to share their lives by means of rare mail connection between land and the removed location. The feelings only strengthen with the distance – Tom and Isabel become husband and wife and they move to take care of the lighthouse. The young couple satisfies a new life and waits for a child as Isabel soon pregnancy. Isabel suffers from losing her unborn children more than one time and loses her faith to live and love. Once a small boat washed ashore Janus island, with dead young men and crying small child. Within the fight between moral and professional duties on one side and burning desire to live full, Tom and Isabel decide to hide the accident and keep the child.
Tom and Isabel
ML Stedman’s ‘The Light between oceans’ story intensifies and we understand that its characters are not to be divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, when they face a vital conflict. Into those who do “right” and those who do “wrong”. The beloved couple beers poor resemblance to classic literature characters of the past. They are more to be generalized composite characters of books. Isabel has rival parts from Jane Austin’s books and Tom symbolizes melancholic veteran of the Great War, who creates a kind of barrier with the outside world, but he does not tend to philosophy as Erich Maria Remarque’s characters.
What makes book characters so live and dramatic is a complex summary issue. Tom and Isabel are open for the weakness incident to human nature as the others. It is generally easy to make theories what is right and wrong, what is good and evil when you just read someone’s else story within convenient conditions of none making really tough decisions. M.L. Stedman constantly interferes reader’s zone of comfort in her book. You will probably feel skin crawls while reading how Isabel suffers and loses her child in an act of the helpless drama.
Despite the obvious fact, that Tom and Isabel fulfill 80% of the plot, the second-place characters are also live and at times compel the reader’s full attention. Hannah Roennfeldt (Potts) who lost her husband and own child, easily grabs the biggest piece of the pie of her chapters in the book. She becomes the protagonist of a part of a story. These chapters additionally help us to be distracted from the main plot with Tom and Isabel and estimate the very core of conflict for a better life for a child.
JANUS ISLAND AND THE ROBINSONADE
Despite the fact that the real Janus Island exists and located near Antarctica, the location in M.L. Stedman’s book and in the movie is fictional. This piece of land is literary located near Western Australia, within the relative border between two oceans: the Pacific and the Indian. Tom Sherbourne, a new lightkeeper of the Janus lighthouse does his best with a new responsible job. Constant work of the facility is a matter of great importance for him, even comparing with the war past. Tom even run up a flag when some ship goes near the island and its lighthouse.
The fist chapters of the book deal with Tom Sherbourne himself, being the only man on the far Janus island. He uses this multi-months solitude and isolation to deal with the war past of the Western front. Tom prefers to escape more than greetings as a war hero. After a short geographic prelude, a reader deeps into the isolated atmosphere of a piece of land between two oceans. The story is not about survival story as Robinson Crusoe, but it is extremely exciting to read about a man, who adapts to extraordinary conditions of isolation.
After Isabel becomes Tom’s wife, the island now deals with one more living being in the person of picky girl. The young couple satisfies their life on the island of only one square kilometer, make a map with marks. The Sherbournes have intentionally distanced from the blessing of civilization (the 1920s) and have chosen solitude. It must be said that it is no more solitude as they are a couple. Sherbourne’s family spends time working, walking, making picnics, reading, playing piano, dreaming and feel joyful in everyday living. This initial part of ‘The light between two oceans’ book is more like family romantic reading.
WAR DRAMA / ROMANCE / DETECTIVE STORY
All the events of the book describe the period after the First World War a novel initiates its story in 1926 with the main plot twist and then turns to a classic linear structure. Tom Sherbourne is being interviewed on a job for Janus lighthouse in December 1918 only a month after the last gunshot in Europe. Within the last 400 pages, we receive very little information on Tom’s war experience. Some parts of a novel deal with the author’s commentaries, another with Tom’s retrospective, another with a third-party opinion. The author constantly touches bleeding themes of war through the pain of little town in Western Australia – young men had not come back home. Even Isabel herself lost two brothers in the Great War – it broke the hearts of her parents.
Romance and melodrama step forward within the story. Complete love and understanding make a strong contrast with the difficulty of the moral decision and inner principles, after revealing a boat in an ocean. When Tom and Isabel face significant conflict, with a catastrophe of relations, their union breaks apart. But not a cause of fragility or insincerity, but the life itself – author M.L. Stedman emphasizes it brilliantly. Speaking the about detective part, we receive a complete image of events in the very beginning, but details remain important. Investigation almost ignores the participation of the main characters.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS MOVIE
Summer 2014 has revealed some information on a future movie adaptation. Michael Fassbender obtained the role of Tom, a lightkeeper at the Janus island. Alicia Vikander agreed to depict Isabel Graysmark, a complex dramatic character and Rachel Weisz choose a part of Hannah Roennfeldt (Potts). Principal filming was initiated in September 2014 and mostly located in Western Australia and New Zeeland. In this means, the movie came to life on the homeland of its book characters. Urban scenes were shot in Dunedin (New Zeeland) and its suburb, also in Chalmers, slam port town and in Australian Stanley. Speaking about the depiction of the Janus rock island, filmmakers used Campbell Cape and local lighthouse. The process of montage and creation of music lasted for another year with the premiere in September 2016. The real Janus island near Antarctica was not used as a location.
‘The light between oceans’ movie has become one of the best book adaptations and romance for the years. M.L. Stedman’s novel came alive and depicted both the sense of beauty and confrontation and conflict of the plot, the tragedy of destinies. The movie provokes the admiration of taking locations and daylight. Two main characters Tom Sherbourne and Isabel Graysmark have a picnic on the beautiful coast of Western Australia. The stunning landscapes form the quintessence of Romance and Drama at the same time. All sun downs scenes deserve their own montage after the movie. The movie has not become a complete repeat of a book and depicts the story and tragedy in its own way. Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander (a couple in real life) gave their fascinated role-playing to the characters and after watching a movie they emotionally symbolize Tom and Isabel.
HOW DOES THE STORY END
In spite of inevitable minor differences, both the book and the movie deal with the same main storyline and major events are pretty the same. After revealing the fact, that the Sherbourne family took the baby from a boat, Tom is accused of kidnapping, violating his duties as the Janus island lightkeeper, concealing the truth on the occasion and in the possible murder of Frank Roennfeldt, who was a German. Isabel now hates her lover-husband for revealing the truth. Thus she has shared her life and heart with this man, she now can’t forgive him – her only child Lucy (secretly adopted Grace Roennfeldt) was taken from her by the legislative forever. Isabel’s whole world has been broken by her husband and he is the only person she blames for all have happened. Tom Sherbourne is now under investigation in a prison cell and he tries to convince all that it was his decision to keep a child and conceal the truth about the accident on the Janus island and about the body of Frank Roennfeldt.
At the same period of tragic events in the Sherbourne family, Hannah Roennfeldt (Potts) can finally be with her own daughter Grace. But it is obvious that she is a strange person for a three-year-old child. Lucy/Grace constantly cries and does not want to see her real mother, begging to return her to her, as she understands, real parent Tom and Isabel. In a book, Hannah can’t forgive Sherburne’s but she finally decides to leave the past behind and set them free. She takes all her accuses back and asks the law to be generous. In a movie Hannah (Rachel Weisz) comes to Isabel and offers her a deal – Isabel will say that Tom killed Frank Roennfeldt and will have some access to a child. First, Isabel admits this decision but at the final moment, just before her husband is being transferred to a prison for the death penalty, she rejects all the lies on what has happened with Frank Roennfeldt.
Both the book and movie give us a kind of epilogue, of course, with a more detailed variant in M.L. Stedman’s novel. After all the events Sherbourne family lives Partagesse and moves far away from this place to leave all the drama behind. Isabel, unfortunately, did not give birth to a child in the future. In 1950, when Isabel has already gone, a young girl comes to Sherbourne’s home. She is turned to be Lucy / Grace Graysmark / Roennfeldt now with her own child, a son named Cristopher. They have a very warm conversation with Tom, girl thanks Tom for all they have made for her years ago. It is obvious that Lucy / Grace now find ground to come this home back. To give her a box, left by Isabel in a hope to be once taken by Lucy. The girl reads the words on paper. Words of love.
MORE DIFFERENCES: BOOK VS MOVIE
- ‘The light between oceans’ movie omits some important information about Mr. Trimble, a former lightkeeper at the Janus island. In M.L. Stedman’s novel, Tom was interviewed only for the period instant job and he was informed that his predecessor was out of his mental health and the situation is unclear for now. But after the actual death of Trimble, there was no dispute on Tom as a candidate for permanent work at the lighthouse. Within the movie, Tom finds out on the occasion while having dinner in Graysmark’s house and accept this news calmly.
- The adaptation depicts the first acquaintance between Tom and Isabel within the dinner party. M.L. Stedman lets her characters in touch before, on a pier. Tom comes to coast in Partagesse, deepened in his own thoughts and he notices a beautiful young girl, who feed seagulls. Isabel provokes small talk and they both feed the birds with bread, that Isabel (Alicia Vikander) has taken from a home.
- The movie has not used another informative scene which literally describes the personality of Tom Sherbourne. During his voyage to Point-Partagesse, Tom interfered with some inexcusable actions of the boat crew. A sailor busted into a cabin of one lady trying to have a “trophy”. Tom grabbed this guy and forced a drunk sailor to give excuses to a lady. He admitted that most of the former war veterans will never ever be the same as before the war. Tom has displayed himself as a nobleman.
- ML Stedman’s book does not give us detail on how Isabel tried to reach her husband before she lost her child. More importantly, Isabel in book bagged her husband to forgive her.
- Movie location makes an unforgettable impression and fits the book atmosphere in the most possible way. M.L. Stedman details that Janus island is one square kilometer island. Tom and Isabel even make their own personal map of Janus with main spots and marks. The island in movie adaptation is not so big.
- The story of Frank Roennfeldt and Lucy, their voyage in a boat was thoroughly depicted in ‘The Light between oceans’ book, in chapters from Hannah’s perspective. Frank and Hannah had to face hate on the streets of Partagesse because Frank was German and Great War has just ended. A group of local hooligans busted into their house and Frank took a child and ran to a pier. He took a boat to the open ocean and had problems with his heart. We never get information on the attitude of Hannah to these guys, as they were guilty of all have happened, not the Sherbourne family.
Maksym, this article was intersting and helpul but please, please have your texts editied and work on your English, please. Otherwise, keep up your good work.