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The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

The Light Between Oceans (original 2012; edition 2012)

by ML Stedman

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4,1783731,199 (3.95)1 / 347
Title:The Light Between Oceans
Authors:ML Stedman
Info:Scribner (2012), Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read 2012

Work details

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (2012)

  1. 10
    Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: A infant washes ashore on a remote island and is adopted by the locals, although the child's origins remain a mystery. Although Latitudes of Melt is set in Canada, not Australia, both character-driven historical novels are lush, detailed, and descriptive.… (more)
  2. 32
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (aliklein)
  3. 10
    Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio (dara85)
    dara85: This takes place in the past (1930's), a child is taken and goes to live with another family, involves a crime
  4. 54
    The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (aliklein)
  5. 00
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (dara85)
  6. 00
    The Wonder: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (kqueue)
    kqueue: Both present thorny ethical dilemmas in a historic setting with sympathetic characters.
  7. 01
    Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both books have exotic, isolated settings and characters who experience great love as well as great loss.

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"You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things. I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No, we always have a choice. All of us.”

There is so much to recommend about this title that a review could become a novel itself. A young woman, the loving and lively young wife and sole companion of a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the southwest shores of Australia in the early 1900s, has a couple of miscarriages and a stillbirth. Her husband, a decent and by-the-book sort deeply affected by WWI, allows her to convince him to bend--and later shatter--any number of written and unwritten lighthouse and life rules when a baby and a dead man wash up on the shores of their remote home. In the aftermath, many lives are affected by the ripple effects of one poor decision made out of desperation and love, and the repercussions continue for years. I sympathized with the characters, and especially with the husband's torn loyalties that simply couldn't be reconciled once the initial decision was made. I silently plead with the couple to not make their poor decisions, and to not pile on more poor decisions as things begin to unravel. But, of course, they didn't listen to me. And I knew soon enough that "happily ever after" was not going to be in the cards for any of the principals here.

My only beef with this one involved the ending--or epilogue, perhaps--which I thought ratcheted up the melodrama a bit too much after a novel that was already full of it. At the same time, however, it did a good job of providing closure that might not have been possible had the author ended things differently. ( )
  jimgysin | Jun 19, 2017 |
The setting for this book is Australia. A military man, having seen his share of war, is happy to take a station manning a remote lighthouse off a rocky peninsula. A young small town woman falls in love with him and they end up married, with her accompanying him to the lighthouse. One day, something washes up on the beach which will change their lives. For me the interesting part of the story is about honesty. What happens when you fail to do the next right thing? How much time to you have to do it? Are there degrees of "rightness"? Does something that is clearly wrong become right if your motives are to please someone you love? Does your loyalty to your lover transcend all other moral rightness? Is it ever possible to fix your wrongs having knowingly done them? Oceans separated the worlds of these families. Yet the moral light kept turning and connecting the worlds, until there was no difference between the two. This was a wonderful book. The book said to me that if I don't live by my own truth, no matter what, the torture I experience will be too much to bare for myself or anyone who loves me, and they too will suffer, not to mention the disastrous effects on others failing to do the right thing had in the first place. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman is an emotionally rich and fully engaged story about a couple’s post and isolation on the island Janus Rock in keeping and maintaining the much aged and beloved lighthouse of the small town of Partagueuse.

But the idyllic life of lightkeeping and the idealism between Tom Sherbourne, and his new wife, Isabel Graysmark, in their marriage, quickly disintegrates into devastation and madness with the number of consecutive miscarriages that befall them.

With each miscarriage, Isabel Graysmark, now Mrs. Sherbourne, mourns the deaths of her infants, internalizes her incessant biological failure, and becomes absolutely focused and obsessed with the compulsion of motherhood, which has adamantly eluded her.

Then with the unexpected arrival of a boat that washes up on shore with a dead man and a wailing baby, the Sherbournes stretch the line between morality and immorality with a life-altering decision that not only determines the fate of their family, but greatly deceives and disrupts the whole of the Patagueuse community.

Though the setting is in the 1920′s, the writing is not written with a heavy pen as usually expected in stories of that time, but rather an ease that showcases the depth of a character-driven novel and a story, which will not fail to grip its readers to it’s every word, if not every page.

The dialogue brings the book alive with its accurate-sounding accents and idioms especially from the characters, Ralph Addicott and Bluey, the men who steer the store boat, the Windward Spirit, out to the ocean periodically to provide the Sherbourne family with food, supplies, and current news from town.

But, the heart of the novel is not only its characters: Tom Sherbourne, Isabel Graysmark, Bill and Violet Graysmark, Septimus Potts, Hannah and Frank Roennfeldt, and Lucy-Grace, Ralph and Hilda Addicott, and Bluey—it’s the moral injustice in the book that will drive readers to vehemence and outrage.

To read the rest of my review, you're more than welcome to visit my blog, The Bibliotaphe Closet at: http://zaraalexis.wordpress.com

- Zara
( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
I mean, of course I cried, but I'm easily emotionally manipulated. This is a pretty pleasurable, plot-driven story, and with slightly more heft than I would have thought, mostly through Stedman's intense focus on the specter of trauma, and the kinds of tradeoffs it might induce humans to make in ongoing relationships. On the other hand, the plot is wildly unbelievable in ways that are at odds with its solemn tone and attention to material and historical detail. It was definitely worth reading, but I'm unlikely to return to it anytime soon. ( )
  jalbacutler | May 22, 2017 |
Tom and Isabel are cast as modern day Adam and Eve. Janus is like living in a paradise made for them. As long as they stick to the rules (Tom's love for regulations) all goes well. Isabel falls into the temptation of keeping Lucy as their own, and convinces Tom to do the same although he has misgivings. They are punished and banished from 'Eden' ( )
  mclewe | May 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 383 (next | show all)
Light" is a story you want to finish, despite some predictability problems. I cared about Tom and Isabel, and cheered for them even as they betrayed each other. And I was charmed by the supporting cast of characters (Bluey and Ralph in particular).

Stedman's grasp of the dialect of the region's inhabitants and dialogue fitting for the era are admirable. Her writing is sound, if sometimes uninspiring, but every so often she throws out a gorgeous line that you have to stop and read twice to appreciate, like this one: "A goblin thought jumps onto her shoulder: what's the point of tomorrow?" Or, "The rain is falling more heavily, and in the distance, thunder grumbles at being left behind by the lightning." Nice.

First-time novelist Stedman did what all good writers should do: She got her readers emotionally invested in her story.

As if you needed it, here's more proof that this novel is worth your time: The film rights have already been picked up.

The miraculous arrival of a child in the life of a barren couple delivers profound love but also the seeds of destruction.......A polished, cleverly constructed and very precisely calculated first novel
As time passes, the harder the decision becomes to undo and the more towering is its impact. This is the story of its terrible consequences.

But it is also a description of the extraordinary, sustaining power of a marriage to bind two people together in love, through the most emotionally harrowing circumstances.

Light Between Oceans' is tough to shake off....And to the author's credit, Light's resolution is neither sensationalistic nor overly tidy. Everyone in this book has to make tough choices, including the little girl. By letting neither her readers nor her characters off the hook easily, Stedman creates a bond that makes her book tough to shake off.


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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. L. Stedmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Delaney, ColleenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, NoahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff's edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross.
There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way.
History is that which is agreed upon by mutual consent.
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Book description
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.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

1926. Tom Sherbourne is a young lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The only inhabitants of Janus Rock, he and his wife, Isabel, live a quiet life, cocooned from the rest of the world.
The one April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying infant - and the path of the couple's lives hits an unthinkable crossroads.
Only years later do they discover the devastating consequences of the decision they made that day - as the baby's real story unfolds...
M.L.STEDMAN'S debut is the mesmerising novel of loyalty, love and unbearable choices.
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"A novel set on a remote Australian island, where a childless couple live quietly running a lighthouse, until a boat carrying a baby washes ashore"--

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