Last night, I had a conversation with a friend that really opened my eyes.
She loves books. She has an incredibly neat and well arranged bookcase that she is immensely proud of. In her house, no book goes unloved.
So you can imagine my shock when I found out that she had thrown a book in the trash.
It wasn’t an offensive book, by any means. From memory, it was a quite ordinary historical fiction novel. It was the kind of novel that features all the cliches of a tudor period romance. There was long skirts, foggy mornings and court room intrigue abound. So what could there be to dislike that much? It is perhaps boring or stupid but was it bad enough to throw into a bin?
The reason she couldn’t stand it was because it pushed all of her buttons.
And everything in THIS book was a touchy subject for me.
If you want to know, the book was The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
It was well written, interesting and engaging. And yet, I didn’t enjoy reading it at all. Give me a serial killer decapitating prostitutes and I’ll not raise an eyebrow. Give me a WW2 novel where thousands are killed and it wont even phase me. But reading about children getting taken away from their mothers is just too much. I can’t. Really.
The way the scenarios where explained didn’t help. The author doesn’t just thrust the knife in, she twists it again and again and again.
A couple of nights ago I became fed up with how much I had procrastinated with the book. Every time I looked at it I felt a pit in the depths of my stomach. But it wasn’t terribly written or uninteresting so how could I justify not finishing it? So I laid in bed two hours earlier than usual and got to reading. After, I felt overwhelmed and so deeply upset. There was something about how intense the author wrote the emotions that was starting to get to me. I no longer felt like a voyeur. I felt too involved.
So after my conversation last night, I made a choice.
I am putting this book down.