Welcome to the third and final discussion of The Light Between Oceans. I pretty much read this last section in a single sitting. I couldn’t wait to find out what would become of poor little Lucy-Grace. On a whole, I thought this was a beautiful, haunting novel—I hope you all would agree!
As I read through Part 3, I found myself feeling guilty that a part of me kept hoping Lucy-Grace would find her way back to Tom and Isabel. Just as Isabel was the only mother that the child knew, Tom and Isabel were the only parents that I, as a reader, knew. I was almost as resistant to accepting Hannah as Lucy-Grace was herself. I know that Hannah was completely guiltless, but I kept rooting against her—which made me feel incredibly guilty, since I knew that I wasn’t being fair. What did you think? Did you find yourself hoping that Lucy-Grace would find her way back to Tom and Isabel?
As for Hannah, my heart all but broke every time Lucy-Grace rejected her. Hannah wanted so desperately to be reunited with her daughter, and the child who was finally returned to her bore no resemblance to the child she had been mourning for years. Still, I struggled to understand Hannah’s decision to return Lucy-Grace to Isabel. Perhaps I can’t begin to understand Hannah’s pain, but I was shocked that she could be driven to give up her only child to a virtual stranger. Were you able to understand Hannah’s decision?
I was increasingly frustrated with Isabel in Parts 2 and 3, but I do think she redeemed herself by the end of the novel. I recognize that she loved Lucy-Grace fiercely and felt betrayed by Tom, but I was still stunned that she would go so far as to let people believe that Tom was physically abusive. Her selfishness seemed to know no bounds. It is only at the end, when an exasperated Hannah considered giving Lucy-Grace back to her, that Isabel realized how far she has strayed from the loving, openhearted wife and mother she had once been. I was pleasantly surprised when Isabel rushed down to the police station to corroborate Tom’s story, and I could feel the bond between them reassert itself as Tom tore himself free of his handcuffs and embraced his wife. Despite all of their heartache, they still clearly felt a raw, eternal love for each other. Were you surprised when Isabel chose to tell the truth? Did that redeem her in your eyes?
One last thought: After last week’s post, there was some discussion about Hannah turning out to be the woman from the boat. Some readers were happy to see the woman from the boat reappear, and others didn’t like the device. A few commenters who had read ahead cautioned everyone to withhold judgment until we had finished the book. Now that you’ve read Part 3, do you think that Hannah should have been the woman from the boat? Personally, I didn’t like that Hannah was the nameless woman from Part 1. After Tom was released from his shortened sentence, Hannah told him that their history was part of why she’d entered her plea for leniency. While she was struggling to make the decision, though, she was thinking not about Tom but about how her late husband would have wanted her to forgive the Sherbournes. I think she had reason to ask for leniency even without the boat incident. What’s your take?
Thanks so much for reading along, everyone! I’ve had a great time, and I hope to be back again soon. In the meantime, I have a little treat for you: M.L. Stedman has agreed to answer your questions! Post them in the comments section below by EOD Friday, September 28. Also, be sure to vote for next month’s pick; I already have a copy of In the Garden of Beasts on my bookshelf, just begging to be read, so I hope that one wins!