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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans (original 2012; edition 2012)

by M.L. Stedman

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3,2093021,732 (3.97)1 / 275
Title:The Light Between Oceans
Authors:M.L. Stedman
Info:Scribner (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

  1. 31
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  2. 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
  3. 54
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    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (dara85)
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    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)
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    akblanchard: Both books have exotic, isolated settings and characters who experience great love as well as great loss.

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English (308)  Dutch (1)  All languages (309)
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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
343 pages


Taking place mostly in the 1920s, this novel frequently surrounds a young couple named Tom and Isabelle. They haven’t had the easiest of lives – Tom suffers from what would now be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while Isabelle goes through two miscarriages and a stillbirth within 4 years of their marriage. One day a boat washes up with a healthy baby aboard, what will they do? This is a sad, yet beautifully written story about family, love, and decision and subsequent consequences that goes along with them.

I was warned by some very thoughtful friends that perhaps this wasn’t the best book to read. And in parts, they were completely right. Since I lost my son earlier this year, 5 months into my pregnancy, there is no doubt that some of the situations in this book – such as Isabelle’s unfortunately miscarriages and stillbirth – were bound to get to me. And they did, especially the stillbirth, which was very much like my own situation except my son was born alive and survived for 74 minutes. But, even with that, I loved this book. And if anything I found a strong connection to the characters because I could relate so very much in some of the circumstances.

I was sucked up into the story so quickly. I read in veraciously, finishing it much quicker than expected (who needs sleep?!). I couldn’t help but see what would happen next to this couple, to others within their lives. I kept saying “Ok, one more chapter”….5 chapters later, you get the idea. Believe it or not, while I felt for Isabelle and her situation, it was Tom who took my heart in this book. I adored this novel and am so glad I took the time to read it. Kudos to this first-time author.
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
What a sad, sad book. My dominant thought throughout the first half was, "I must keep this book away from my mom and sister . . . I must keep this book away from my mom and sister . . ." Later my thoughts became more angry as I realized that even if this book ended in the best way possible (which it did), it would still be a heartbreaking ending. I wondered what kind of person would concoct a story like this. I questioned my resolve to finish it when I knew it would hurt.

But the writing is beautiful. The characters are wonderful. The lighthouse at Janus sounds like paradise, despite the drawbacks that are repeatedly emphasized. I am so relieved the book didn't end as tragically as I feared; perhaps now I'll be able to love the book—a safe distance away from it. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 3, 2016 |
Would definitely recommend, but pretty farfetched. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
I found ML Stedman's debut novel a captivating read.
I couldn't put it down and longed for more when it ended.

The story's backdrop is the aftermath of World War I and begins on Janus Rock (nearly half a day’s journey from the coast)
with Tom Sherbourne as the lighthouse keeper.

The author notes the bleakness of Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was her inspiration for Janus Rock.

I found Tom an incredibly rich character.
He's meticulous ( as a lighthouse record keeper must be) and his moral principles have just withstood a horrific war.
He is haunted by what he witnessed and what he did during his enlistment.
Janus Rock lighthouse was the last sign of Australia he had seen as his troopship steamed for Egypt in 1915.

Tom marries Isabel and they journey together to the isolation of Janus Rock.
Miscarriages and a stillbirth throw Isabel onto an emotional rollercoaster...the beginning of the heartbreaking dramas of this story.
Shortly after, a boat has washed ashore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Isabel’s decision is immediate ( keep this “gift from God")
Tom is torn by Isabel's newfound happiness and the truth of the situation.

Thus the story begins.
It is emotionally complex...sometimes life is a simple joy and other times "remorse, responsibility and regret dominate"

I found the characters vivid and subplots well maintained.
We see the results of damaging secrets, and often the tragic aspects of love.
I recommend the read.

The author indicates
The Janus Rock Lighthouse "illuminates the tension between right and wrong, good and evil and the shifting sands of moral certainty"

For me, a 5 ★ Favorite ♥ ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 27, 2016 |
Takes place in 1920's Australia. A lightkeeper and his wife live alone on an island and a dead man and infant in a boat wash ashore after a storm. The decisions they make on how to deal with the situation will impact them and the lives of many others for years to come. I found it to be slow moving and really had to push myself to finish even though I found the plot itself interesting. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 308 (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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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.
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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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Average: (3.97)
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1 10
1.5 6
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2.5 21
3 194
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