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The Light Between Oceans (2012)

by M. L. Stedman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,9904721,249 (3.91)1 / 390
"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"--
  1. 20
    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. 10
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (dara85)
  3. 32
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (aliklein)
  4. 54
    The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (aliklein)
  5. 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
  6. 00
    The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (kqueue)
    kqueue: Both present thorny ethical dilemmas in a historic setting with sympathetic characters.
  7. 00
    The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (sturlington)
  8. 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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» See also 390 mentions

English (468)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (473)
Showing 1-5 of 468 (next | show all)
A tragic story of a young married couple, isolated on an island where the husband is the lighthouse keeper. In a freak coincidence of fate, a man washes up on the shore in a lifeboat. He is dead but a live baby girl is in the boat with them. As it has happened, the wife, Isabel has just lost another baby to miscarriage. Torn by grief and desperation, they couple decides to raise the baby as their own. They quietly bury the body of the mystery man and promise to tell no one.

Matters become more complicated, however, when they eventually learn of their daughter's real family. The mother is alive and frantically looking for the child. Moreover, she wonders what happened to her husband. Isabel is committed to keeping their secret, but her husband is destroyed by the plight of the child's mother. Eventually, he cannot remain silent any longer. When the police come around the lighthouse to ask questions, he confesses everything.

Their stolen daughter is given back to her true mother, but it is a situation not easily remedied. The child doesn't know her mother and is sick with fear and resentment. She wants to go back to the only family she's ever known. Meanwhile, criminal charges are being brought against the lighthouse keeper.

This is a sad story about damaged people making terrible decisions. Ultimately, I felt the character development was not strong enough and was eventually overshadowed by the dramatic events of the plot. ( )
  Juva | Jun 4, 2021 |
It was interesting enough to keep me going, the ending was satisfying but sad. Overall a pretty good read if you are in the mood for some romance and drama
  Abiquail | Apr 24, 2021 |
I've owned a copy of this for years, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

Tom Sherbourne is the lighthouse-keeper on Janus Rock in Australia, where he lives--cut off by some fifty miles--from the town of Partegeuse with his wife, Isabel. Isabel has just suffered her third miscarriage when a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a live baby. Overcome with grief for her own baby, Isabel convinces Tom to let her keep the baby and raise it as their own on Janus.

For obvious reasons, through much of the middle of the novel I felt a huge sense of dread while reading it, since it's obvious that these decisions have and will continue to tear people apart. It was really moving to see the repercussions that the Sherbournes' decisions had on themselves and on others, and you come to feel strongly for all of them. I really liked the writing, and I found the book to be a beautiful kind of sad. ( )
  forsanolim | Apr 17, 2021 |
A heart wrenching story of love and loss. Difficult decisions which ultimately affect lives forever. ( )
  marquis784 | Mar 1, 2021 |
[b:The Light Between Oceans|13158800|The Light Between Oceans|M.L. Stedman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1336683021l/13158800._SY75_.jpg|18337340] focused on the relationship between a man and a woman and how becoming parents changed that relationship. I was uninterested in that relationship when it started and uninterested when it changed and - subsequently - the emotional core of the book failed to resonate with me at any level. Folks who have experienced the shift from being young adults to being young parents (or those who aspire to become a parent) might have a different reaction to the book. ( )
  eshaundo | Feb 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 468 (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.


» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
M. L. Stedmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Delaney, ColleenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, NoahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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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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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