Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies. Unless their last name is Grisham or King, authors will probably never see their trailers on the big screen at the local cineplex. And that's a shame because a lot of hard work goes into producing these short marriages between book and video. So, if you like what you see, please spread the word and help these videos go viral.

The trailer for M. L. Stedman's debut novel, The Light Between Oceans, should not work as well as it does.  On the surface, it's all hat, no cattle (bovine being "plot" and "characters" in this instance).  The majority of the trailer consists of pan-n-scan still images and Stedman talking about the novel's overarching Big Themes and the interior development of her characters: a lighthouse keeper and his wife on Janus Rock, a remote island off the southwestern coast of Australia.  They live a quiet life until one day a boat washes up on shore.  Inside, they find a dead man and a tiny, screaming baby.  The couple's next actions determine the moral path of the rest of the novel.  Stedman (whose buttery English accent I could listen to all day long*) shifts into high gear from the opening lines of the trailer: "Can it ever be right to disobey the rules?  Can it ever be right to cause harm to someone to protect those you love?"  Later, she asks: "Are right and wrong absolutes, or do they shift like the constellations in the night sky?  Where do we find our moral compass points?  In an impossibly complex world, how do we find our North Star?"  It's all very heady, but there's enough there to pull me in to take a closer look at the novel.  Maybe it's the voice--which reminds me of Emma Thompson, another person I would gladly pay to sit next to me and read the phone book--or maybe it's the earnestness of the ideas at work here, but I'm the metal shaving to this video's magnet.  And then the blurb by Maile Meloy closed the deal for me: “It gets into your heart stealthily, until you stop hoping the characters will make different choices and find you can only watch, transfixed, as every conceivable choice becomes an impossible one.”  Sometimes a book trailer doesn't need to go pyrotechnic to prove its point.

*At least I think it's Stedman herself. If I'm wrong, please direct my fan letter to the appropriate narrator.

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