Michelle N. (Hillsdale, NJ)
Read this book!
I have just finished reading this book and it is way past the time that I usually stay up at night - I just could not put this book down! I was very fortunate to be able to obtain this book and write a review about it - it is excellent from start to finish. The story grabs you from the first page and keeps you enthralled until the very last. The characters come alive off the page and the story will have you picking up the book at every opportunity to see the choices that the characters make. This book is definitely about choices - what do you do when your conscience tells you to do the right thing, even when it will destroy those you love? A very difficult choice, some very wonderful characters, and a truly terrific book. Coming from someone who reads a ton of books, this is one of those stories that will stay with you. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book - no doubt you will love it!
Naomi B. (Tucson, AZ)
The Light Between the Oceans: A Strong Debut
From the first sentence, M.L. Stedman's The Light Between the Oceans draws the reader into the world of its memorable characters. With lyrical prose and a breathtaking setting, Stedman almost literally places the central conflict of the novel at our feet: a dingy with a dead man and a live baby. Isabel, who finds the child, considers the discovery a miracle from God, and in those first exquisitely wrought pages, we can see that this will set the stage for a story of both tragedy and love as Tom and Isabel, husband and wife, must deal with the consequences of their choices concerning this baby. The story is set on Janus, an isolated lighthouse on a beautiful but forlorn portion of the Australian coastline where Tom is the keeper of the light. Throughout the novel, Stedman returns to the image of the light, its beam illuminating a path of safety for sailors traversing the dark union of horizon and night. By extension, she casts this same light across her pages, offering her characters a ray of hope and guidance when they find themselves most lost, most tangled in the web their lives has cast around them. The intricacies of plot keeps us turning pages, the breathtaking descriptions keep us firmly inside place and story, and the complex and well-drawn characters keep us hoping for the best, even in the darkest moments. The only elements that drew me out of the story were tense switches, which I found jarring and unnecessary, and sections of point of view switches that I felt drew attention away from the central story and the central conflict rather than added to it. These were not fatal flaws, however. I found this to book to be engaging, well-wrought, and above all, a book of substance. It is a book I will remember.
Teresa H. (Mechanicsville, VA)
Well written but left me emotionally drained
I can not remember reading a book quite so heartbreaking. After World War 1 a physically intact yet war damaged Tom Sherbourne accepts a post as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island in Australia. He marries Isabel and returns to life keeping the lighthouse. After several miscarriages a distraught Isabel hears the cries of an infant. They find dead man and a baby in a small boat. This sets forth a series of events that take on a life of their own. At what point is it too late to correct a wrong or is it ever too late? About the time I felt comfortable with their decisions a whole new dimension is brought in that made me reconsider who the victims really were. From the power we let the past have over us to the urge to protect and comfort those we love this book shows just how judgements can be clouded. The writing captured the desperation and emotions of each character to the point that I found myself sobbing. I will be pondering this book for a while.
Shirin M. (Beverly Hills, CA)
The Light Between Oceans - M. L. Stedman
A good book transports you to a different time and place; better books stay with you long after you've turned the last page. "The Light Between Oceans," does both. Quiet controlled prose creates a sense of time and place inhabited by real people. There are no heroes or villains. Just regular folk who have to live with the consequences of their decisions in a world that is after all never fair. The reader's notion of right and wrong is challenged in circumstances where there are no easy answers. An engrossing read. While you want to know what happens to the main characters, you don't want the book to end. A stunning debut novel.
MaryAnn W. (Northville, Michigan)
Hoped for better...
This book begins with such promise! The first section is beautifully detailed with evocative descriptions of wild landscape and harsh weather; the author clearly has a gift for this kind of writing. However, her attention to detail slows down the story and overloads the narrative with details about the workings of a lighthouse that were interesting at first but ultimately became rather tiresome. The characters are engaging but not complex; a more nuanced exploration of the characters would have made the plot less predictable. The book is a good choice for those who like more romance than drama but for me, it was too much of a tearjerker.
Jan C. (San Antonio, Texas)
The Light Between Oceans
Lighthouse, island and characters become alive with detailed descriptions given us by the author, M.L. Stedman. Duty and love meet moral challenges with the clash of cymbals. This is a love story gone awry because of love itself.
I could not put the book down, not because like within a mystery one searches for the solution, but because there is no solution to this moral drama..but you are compelled to watch it -like a car wreck.
Kate S. (arvada, CO)
A Lovely Read!
It is always a pleasure to read not only a good story, but one that is so well written. The author has a gift with words and I was sad to see the novel come to an end. The book was filled with wonderful descriptive writing, symbolism, and an element of not ever quite knowing what would turn up next. Put all that together, and you have a great read. The book has many topics that would make a great discussion for a book club. Great first novel!