Mary M. (Lexington, KY)
This is a very haunting and well written book. The author does a wonderful job of describing the locations and the characters, both of which are essential to the story. The story is about how one bad choice made by good people can change many lives. I will remember the characters and the moral dilemmas they faced for a long time.
After finishing the book I wanted to share it with a friend. It is the kind of book you want to discuss with others, making it a good choice for Book Clubs.
Corinne S. (Fernandina Beach, FL)
A Life Changing Decision
The opening line to this soul-searching first novel by M.L. Stedman begins, “On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff’s edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross. Questions come to mind immediately, why is Isabel tending the small, new driftwood cross? Why was the cross there? What could the miracle possibly be? Stedman, who was born in Australia, pulls you into the lives of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, who have chosen to live a solitary life on the tiny island of Janus Rock, off the coast of Australia, where Tom tends the lighthouse.
The story of each person unfolds around a very difficult moral question. You, the reader, must decide what would you do, and do you agree with Tom and Isabel’s decision? How will their decisions affect other people around them? Are they ready for the consequences of the decisions they made in life? Stedman gives you enough background information about the main characters that allows you to build an understanding of who they are, and what experiences they have lived through that formed the choices they made.
I loved how the story created strong feelings of dread, fear, shame, anger, anxiety, sympathy, sadness, relief as you moved forward in time. I was rooting for Isabel even when I knew I would not do that in real life. The conclusion allows you to see how the choices each person made changed their lives forever. There is so many outstanding topics for the people in your book group to discuss that you will find the meeting will run late.
Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)
The Light Between Oceans
This is a spellbinding story that I could not put down. I was pulled into the story and brought to tears on several occasions. I think the author did a masterful job of portraying the circumstances in such a way that I could sympathize with and almost support the decisions the Sherbournes make, almost making me believe that they have done the right thing. It is only when I distanced myself from the spell of the place and the characters that I could awake to the reality of what was done. It is a story that really left me wondering what I would have done in their place.
Amy H. (Benbrook, TX)
Excellent Debut Novel
I sincerely enjoyed this debut novel by M.L. Stedman. A childless couple living on a remote island find a crying infant in the arms of her dead father. The novel becomes a struggle not between good and evil, but something much harder to clarify and define - like two varying shades of gray that deepened as the story developed. I loved Tom and his staunch refusal to pretend that his actions (and Isabel's) did not have consequences - at least for someone. I enjoyed the imagery of Janus as well. This is one of the best debut novels I've read in a long time and appreciated how the novel forced me to reflect what my own actions would have been in similar circumstances.
Deborah M. (Chambersburug, PA)
A Moving and Elegant Debut Novel
Tom Sherbourne, a decorated hero of World War I, is a haunted man: he's haunted by the men he killed, by the comrades who died alongside him; and by an unhappy childhood--none of which he is willing to talk about. In an effort to find peace, Tom takes a position as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Island, 100 miles out from the coastal city of Partageuse. No one is more surprised than Tom when he finds love with Isabel Graysmarks, a beautiful and spirited local girl who is willing to marry him and move to the isolated island. Both of them grow to love the spare landscape and the magical light itself. But if there is one thing that blights their happiness, it is Isabel's inability to bear a child. She has suffered two miscarriages and, just two weeks earlier, a stillbirth, when a boat washes ashore, inside it a dead man, a woman's cardigan--and a live infant. As always, Tom feels obligated to do the right thing ... but just what is the right thing?
Stedman has written a compelling novel, one that captivates the reader and moves him/her through a myriad of emotions, from sorrow to joy, from peacefulness to suspense, from anger to acceptance. Her characters are individual and believable (although I found the child Lucy just a bit too precious) and always deserving of empathy. Stedman's descriptions of the island and of the beloved lighthouse are so vivid that you can smell the salt sea, the polish, and the vapor. Overall, a fine novel--and an amazing debut. I look forward to her next endeavor.
Jane H. (Indianola, IA)
The Light Between Oceans
The author gives a very authentic description of a lighthouse keepers life, but tends to get wordy. The story depicts how one lie can develope into many, and how these lies affect the character's lives. The last paragraph of the book sums up the story - man is shaped by the happenings in his life.
Sue J. (Wauwatosa, WI)
Great Book Club Selection
The Light Between Oceans would be a great book club selection. The story is about a light house keeper and his wife living on an isolated island off the coast of Australia. A boat comes ashore with a dead man and a small baby crying that will change their lives forever. The choices that are made will lead to devastating events. This book will make for a great book club disscusion.