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

by M.L. Stedman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,7902572,093 (3.98)1 / 249
Member:coker74
Title:The Light Between Oceans
Authors:M.L. Stedman
Info:Scribner (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:2012

Work details

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman (2012)

  1. 31
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (aliklein)
  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. 44
    The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (aliklein)
  4. 00
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (dara85)
  5. 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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English (263)  Dutch (1)  All languages (264)
Showing 1-5 of 263 (next | show all)
It was a good book, extremely well written, that I couldn't not finish, but very somber ~ past the first third, everyone's existence was sad/painful. I did appreciate the similarities between the stories/upbringing of a few of the opposing lead characters and that the book title applied on multiple levels. I definitely needed something lighter to read following this book, and found it in At The Water's Edge; Sara Gruen. ( )
  ajwelder | Apr 28, 2015 |
I read 'The Light Between Oceans' because it was a required read for my book club.

While the moral dilemma proposed was brilliant, the telling was, in my opinion, somewhat less.

For my taste, there were simply too many stereotypes and coincidences. I even called out to my wife, at one stage, "Look out, big coincidence coming!" Unfortunately, I was right.

I found the story clumsily told, and I was disappointed.

Now my big beef (and it has nothing directly to do with this book). Why are Book Clubs so feminine in their selections? OK - I actually know the answer: more women than men are in book clubs. But I joined one a couple of years ago for two reasons: hoping to be challenged to read material outside of the genres I normally read, and to be able to have considered and intelligent discussions about the stuff I read. The second point was met, but I have a problem with the first.

Apart from one selection I have made (Disher's 'Bitter Wash Road') almost every book has been feminine fiction, not feminist but feminine. The one exception, in two years, would be Overington's 'No Place Like Home'. I am tiring of it. Is it simply because most book club members are women that this very ordinary fiction is accepted? Surely, there are women who would like to read challenging fiction? (Just thought: not all men are happy to read challenging fiction either). So, now I think I'm in a hopeless place. Is there a book club where I live that suits me? Or must I put up with what I'm being asked to read (the Coffeeshop in Kabul, for God's sake, and that bloody awful 'Ma He Sold Me')? Help! ( )
  buttsy1 | Apr 21, 2015 |
This was such a difficult book to read. It tests our morals and ethics, our sense of *what would I do* in similar circumstances. The story is heartbreaking yet not totally depressing. I liked how Stedman examines loss and grief from several perspectives, reminding the reader that every person carries his or her own stories of loss and sadness, not always at times of war but throughout life. How each deals with it is as individual as the people involved.

Every time I thought I knew how it was going to end, I was wrong. In the end, although I was wiping away tears, there was a bittersweet calm and hopefulness. I thought this was an excellent first novel. ( )
  jessibud2 | Apr 20, 2015 |
In this bittersweet tale of love and family, readers are transported back to the era just after the first World War, when the men from Australia are finally beginning to trickle back to their country. The main character, Tom, has decided to become a lighthouse keeper, since the government is preferring these jobs to veterans. He meets Isabel, a young girl living in Point Partageuse, the last stopping point before his journey out to the lighthouse on Janus Rock. The two fall in love, but Tom keeps Isabel at a distance, because she is young and innocent, and he feels dirtied from his war experiences. Nonetheless, Isabel is persistent, and when Tom realizes that she isn't backing down, he happily makes her his wife.

Isabel joins him on Janus Rock, a lighthouse location known for its extreme weather and inhospitable living conditions. At first, the couple happily creates a domestic bubble for themselves on the starkly beautiful island. However, after Isabel miscarries twice, and gives birth to a dead baby boy. their life together is haunted by grief. When a boat washes ashore, bearing a dead man and a wailing baby, Isabel unhesitatingly makes a radical decision that will change the course of their lives.

Tom is not happy with Isabel's choice to pass the baby off as their own. Ever since the war, he has built his life in order and following the rules, staving off the chaos he experienced in the war. At first, Isabel persuades him that the mother must be dead, and they are doing what is best for the child. When they return to Point Partaguese, a landing that occurs every three years, they meet Lucy's mother. Hannah has nearly lost her reason after the disappearance of her husband and daughter. She still believes they can be alive, despite the opinion of everyone else in the town, and she wanders aimlessly through life, waiting for something to happen. After learning the truth, Tom believes their choice is clear, and is astounded when Isabel argues that they must keep Lucy. With twisted logic, clearly born out of desperation and self preservation, Isabel claims that it is too late to return the girl to her original mother, and it will only confuse and traumatized her.

From this point in the story, the tragedy that was always looming is front and center, developing mass and gravity. Isabel stubbornly clings to Lucy, regardless of who she destroys in the process, including her own husband. Tom, who fully loves and sympathizes with his wife, can't go against his moral code forever, and slowly takes the steps that he knows is right but might destroy his family.

The story is powerful and affecting. The author ( )
  nmhale | Apr 12, 2015 |
A marvelous book! Tom Shelbourne is assigned to the extremely isolated Janus light off the southeast coast of Australia and he's happy to be going there. Having survived World War I he's suffering from survivor's guilt amongst other things and doesn't care to be around people. He stops briefly in Point Partageuse to await the boat out to the lighthouse and there he meets Isabel Graysmark and her parents. Years later with Isabel as his wife who has just suffered her second miscarriage the cry of a baby is heard on the wind and found in a boat that's been washed ashore along with a dead man. Isabel is convinced that the baby is a gift from God and convinces Tom to let her keep the baby girl. Point Partageuse has played its part in this tragedy which it never acknowledges and sooner or later Tom and Isabel will be found out though Isabel becomes increasingly divorced from that possible reality. You don't want to put this book down ( )
  lisa.schureman | Apr 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 263 (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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