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The Light Between Oceans

A Novel

By Margot L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Jul 2012,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2013,
    384 pages.

    Publication Information

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There are currently 35 reader reviews for The Light Between Oceans
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Cloggie Downunder (07/14/13)

brilliant novel
The Light Between Oceans is the first novel by Australian-born author, M.L.Stedman. A veteran of the First World War, 27-year-old Tom Sherbourne takes a position with the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service and finds himself on a remote island off the West Australian coast, at the meeting point of the Indian and Southern Oceans. Grateful (if guilty) to have survived, Tom is happy to live a quiet life, so meeting and marrying the fascinating Isabel Graysmark is well beyond his expectations. Their happiness on Janus Rock is marred only by Isabel’s failed pregnancies. Then, in 1926, a boat washes up on the beach containing a dead man and a tiny, very-much-alive baby. The decisions the couple make at this point will have consequences they could never have imagined. Stedman has crafted a beautiful story: an original plot filled with dilemmas that will have the reader contemplating long after the last page; luminous prose that is marvellously descriptive of the Western Australian landscape and effectively conveys the post-war atmosphere; and characters with depth and appeal whose situations evoke empathy (only the most hard-hearted reader will finish this book without a tear shed). Stedman’s extensive research into the area, the era and, in particular, lighthouses, is apparent in every paragraph. Stedman made me want to find out more about lighthouses and maybe climb one; she also made me want to see Izzy and Lucy’s drawings. My favourite quote of many comes from Tom: “I’ve learned the hard way that to have any kind of future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past.” This brilliant novel has been a world-wide bestseller and was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award: a win would have been richly deserved.
SS (06/20/13)

Don't pass it by
I listened to the audio version--what a wonderful, magical narrative.
Judy G (03/16/13)

Heartful Love and Sorrow
My audio book experience of this story was tremendous. Oh, how my heart ached for the characters--all. Tom's amazing dedication to all 3 of the women in the story, Isabelle, Lucy and Hannah, was masterfully told. I was able to hold each character independently in my mind to experience their emotions, perspectives and decisions before rejoining the story. Tom's abiding love and sacrifice was indeed the light between the oceans.
Mary (12/14/12)

Excellent read
This book was beautifuly written. It shows how choices follow you long after they are made and the consequences that come from them. I loved the setting on the island. You will not be disappointed.
Becky H (09/01/12)

The Light Between the Oceans
A beautifully written tale that uses description to draw the feel of island and mainland, love and depression, fear and deceit. The dread, confusion and fear of a mother torn from her child and a child torn from her mother will stay with you long after you finish the final page as will the love of a man for his wife and child, the devotion of a mother to her child and the web of entangling emotion that seals a family for ever and ever and ever.
Judy T., Tifton-Tift Co. Public Library, Georgia (08/20/12)

The Light Between Oceans
A very touching book told primarily from the POV of Tom Sherbourne, lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. The characters are compelling and this reader found herself wishing for a way to resolve the issue in the book in a way that would be satisfying to everyone involved. "The Light Between Oceans" is beautifully written and will leave you thinking about the choices and decisions for a long time after the book has been put down.
Karen S. (Princeton, MN) (08/16/12)

A Very Moving Debut Novel
The story of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne and their 'life on the lights' transports the reader into a duplicitous world where impossible choices are made based on great love and great loss. For Tom, a beleaguered war hero, Janus Island affords a solitary existence where he can be alone to wrestle with the ghosts of war. He meets Isabel on a leave from the lighthouse and they begin a tumultuous journey together on the Island. The stark loneliness of the island may have been a proper environment for Tom for deal with his demons, but it is no place for Isabel to recover from two miscarriages and a still born birth. One day, a boat enters their world with the possibility of a new start for Isabel, but for Tom, it is the beginning of the end.

The author does a good job in developing the characters so that this reader is emotionally divided as to what would normally be a clear moral choice. As I became involved with the characters I was surprised that I wasn't always able to determine where blame should be placed. I empathized with them in their struggle and hoped for their redemption, and for Tom and Isabel redemption comes in surprising acts of forgiveness and an unlikely legacy.

This debut novel was very enjoyable and would be a great choice for a book club, as it has potential for some deep and meaningful discussion.
Amy M. (Brooklyn, NY) (08/15/12)

The Vagaries of Love
The Light Between Oceans is a captivating and heartfelt story about the extent to which we’re willing to go for those we love. Tom’s a reliable, quiet lighthouse keeper, a lonely man until he meets sweet, flirty Isabel, a woman very different from himself. After their wedding she joins Tom on isolated Janus Rock, where, together, they happily prepare their home for a family. When life disappoints them, Tom takes an extreme risk, going against his nature, to make Isabel happy. Now, while Isabel awakens ecstatic each day, Tom is decidedly troubled and, for the first time in their marriage, there are silences and vital issues they can’t discuss.

ML Stedman brings Tom and Isabel, two flawed, desperate but likable people, alive in the pages of her book, weaving a compelling and morally complex story that will keep readers mesmerized until the very last page.

Beyond the Book:
  Lighthouse Keepers

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