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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by ML…
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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by ML Stedman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,5493251,491 (3.96)1 / 298
Member:bamckay
Title:The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
Authors:ML Stedman
Info:Scribner (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Work details

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

  1. 31
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    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
    The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (aliklein)
  4. 00
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (dara85)
  5. 00
    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)
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    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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Showing 1-5 of 332 (next | show all)
'He's in a place where there's just wind and waves and light, and the intricate machinery that keeps the flame burning and the lantern turning. Always turning, always looking over its shoulder.'

Tom Sherbourne is haunted by traumatic memories of his horrific experiences in World War I. He is one of the men who have returned to Australia, as so many did not. He is not physically scarred, 'but he's scarred all the same, having to live in the same skin as the man who did the things that needed to be done back then.' Now, looking to his future, he becomes a lighthouse keeper. He takes a position on remote Janus Rock, off the coast of South-Western Australia, with Point Partageuse being the nearest community on the mainland. Partageuse is a place where everyone knows everyone else, and where, after the war, 'gradually, once again lives wove together into a practical sort of fabric..', where '..Janus Rock, linked only by the store boat four times a year, dangled off the edge of the cloth like a loose button that might easily plummet to Antarctica.'

He meets local girl Isabel Graysmark whilst he is on the mainland, they correspond with each other when Tom returns to the lighthouse, and they fall in love and marry. For Isabel, the war has instilled a sense of urgency into life: 'If the war had taught her anything, it was to take nothing for granted...life could snatch away the things you treasured, and there was no getting them back.' Moving forward in time to the mid 1920s, we meet them living out on Janus Rock together, with a sadness hanging between them that they have no children, Isabel having suffered miscarriages. When a boat is washed up on the rock, they make a decision that day which will change the rest of their lives, as the couple is torn between love and desperate need, and the truth and reality of their situation.

There are some beautiful descriptions of the places, which made me want to visit the fictional Partageuse. Equally, the remote location of the lighthouse, the effects of the weather, the detail of the daily duties Tom carries out, is all conveyed well, and very convincingly, so that the reader can imagine the routine of their days, sense the isolation of the lighthouse keeper and his wife, and feel the remoteness of life on Janus Rock. The effects of the War on the community in Partageuse are movingly described, reminding us of the involvement of Australia in that conflict.

This is stunning prose and heart-wrenching storytelling for a debut writer. Through the story, the author delivers many truths about life. She highlights the best and worst sides of humans, the amount of courage, the strength of love, the severity of intense pain, the cruelty inflicted by a decision made out of Isabel's desperate longing, the remorse felt. A lovely read, it is also heartbreaking as the story unfolds and the repercussions play out. I was willing all the characters to the 'best' outcome for all of them, somehow. This story really touched me, I felt quite deeply affected by it, and I cried at the end. I loved this book. It's a great debut novel. ( )
  LindsaysLibrary | Aug 19, 2016 |
This is a great book club book. Great for discussions. ( )
  travelgal | Aug 8, 2016 |
A devastating look at loss and grief and love and how hard it can become to tell right from wrong. Do not read it in public - there will be crying. Heart-breaking. ( )
  aclaybasket13 | Jul 29, 2016 |
Surprisingly touching book about a couple that finds a child and how this can tear apart relationships that eventually mend. Highly recommend especially if you are Australian. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jul 23, 2016 |
Tom has become a lighthouse keeper following his experiences fighting in the war, which have clearly scarred him. He enjoys being in isolation so welcomes a move to a completely uninhabited island off the coast of Australia. But then he falls in love and gets married, and his wife joins him on the island. When a boat with a dead man and a living baby washes up on the island, Tom and Izzy are faced with a difficult choice, and one that will change their lives forever…

This is a very simple book with a moral dilemma at its heart. It has a simple structure and is very easy to read. What I liked about it is that there are no obviously evil characters; in fact you can sympathise with and relate to all the characters, even if some of them may have made the morally wrong decisions. I thought this was what made the book work so well as you did feel torn instead of there being an obvious 'bad guy'.

The unique setting adds to the story – Tom and Isabel live in total isolation on their little island, and the descriptions of the weather and the lighthouse really created a good sense of atmosphere and place. It also worked in the context of the plot, as the story would only have worked in this setting, with Tom and Izzy not seeing other people for months at a time.

Throughout the book, I was never sure exactly what was going to happen, so it kept me reading to the very end and despite being nearly 500 pages long, I easily finished the novel over the course of a weekend. The end was very sad but worked well I thought. There were no huge shocks or twists, but this book didn't need any of that somehow. The simple style and the sympathetic characters were enough to make this a really good novel.

And the film is out later this year with some big name stars, so I will be going to see it when it's released!

SPOILERS: Izzy and Tom have lost three babies, so they keep the baby and tell the islanders she is their own. Then they find out the baby belongs to a lady on the mainland who married a German man who was constantly harrassed by the locals. In the end they get found out and return the now four-year-old girl to her real mother. It takes her many years to settle with her real mother. Tom briefly goes to prison for taking the baby. He and Izzy live together until she dies but are always sad and miss their 'daughter'. At the very end, 20 years later after Izzy's death, the daughter returns with a son and the suggestion is that they may have a future relationship. ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Jul 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 332 (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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In memory of my parents
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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.
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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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