The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia - the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia - the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating...

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Title:The Light Between Oceans
Author:M.L. Stedman
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Light Between Oceans Reviews

  • Brenda

    What a wonderfully complex and morally riveting story! I literally could not put this down, and read for a solid 3 hours last night, until 1am, when I finished this book!

    When Tom Sherbourne returned from WWI, he was a shattered man. He needed a quiet place to gather his thoughts, to calm himself, as he didn’t believe he should have survived the war, when his mates did not. So he became a lighthouse keeper, and over the next few years, he did his job, and learned his trade, until he accepted the

    What a wonderfully complex and morally riveting story! I literally could not put this down, and read for a solid 3 hours last night, until 1am, when I finished this book!

    When Tom Sherbourne returned from WWI, he was a shattered man. He needed a quiet place to gather his thoughts, to calm himself, as he didn’t believe he should have survived the war, when his mates did not. So he became a lighthouse keeper, and over the next few years, he did his job, and learned his trade, until he accepted the job of lighthouse keeper on the small island of Janus Rock, an extremely remote location off the coast of Western Australia.

    The small township of Partageuse was where he spent a week or so, before heading out to the island for his first look at Janus Rock, with the help of Ralph and Bluey. They would come out in

    every three months with his supplies, any mail, anything that was needed. But in the time he spent in Partageuse, he met up with the lovely Isabel Graysmark, and over the next months, a quiet courtship occurred, with letters going back and forth on

    with Ralph and Bluey.

    On their marriage, in 1926, Isabel joined Tom on Janus Rock, and the two of them lived their lives happy, content, and isolated from the rest of the world. Their happiness was not complete however, as Isabel endured miscarriages and depression, with Tom struggling to comfort her.

    One April morning, with the wind blowing strongly, a boat was washed ashore, with a dead man, and a crying baby onboard. The consequences of the choices they made that fateful day would live with them forever.

    As the years unfolded, their decision would see many lives affected, with an extremely devastating result. The continuing heartbreaking story will tear you apart, as you grapple with the right and wrong of love and loyalty.

    This debut novel by Aussie author M.L. Stedman is gripping in its intensity. I highly recommend this book.

  • Gabby

    is an incredibly moving novel about what happens when good people make bad decisions. The story takes place in the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s. The story begins when a light house keeper and his wife find a life boat containing a live baby (and dead man) on the shore of their isolated island. Through a mixture of misplaced intentions and unsupported superstition they decide to raise the child as their own -- deciding not to inform the authorities

    is an incredibly moving novel about what happens when good people make bad decisions. The story takes place in the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s. The story begins when a light house keeper and his wife find a life boat containing a live baby (and dead man) on the shore of their isolated island. Through a mixture of misplaced intentions and unsupported superstition they decide to raise the child as their own -- deciding not to inform the authorities of the child's existence.

    Although the book was a quick read, I never once felt that it was forced or lacking in anyway. The plot is compact -- never wavering from its central theme. I enjoy this kind of focused writing. Irrelevant or distracting side plots would have pulled me away from Tom and Isabel's narrative and weakened my investment in their turmoil.

    The story is highly emotional. Stedman crafts a perfectly gray scenario that forces its readers to question their own moral standing. This truly is reader manipulation at its most powerful. Allowing the reader to sympathize with morally ambiguous characters is a difficult task, however, Stedman presents her narrative in such a way that the reader can't help feeling the same inner conflict as Tom and Isabel.

    Considering this is Stedman's first published novel, I am incredibly excited to see what she produces next. This was a masterpiece in storytelling.

  • Jeanette

    Remember when you were four years old, and your mother was just about your entire world? If you can remember that long-ago feeling of attachment to a parent, or if you have a child, or if you have longed for a child of your own, your heart will break for little Lucy. And it will break for all the grown-ups who loved her,

    Remember when you were four years old, and your mother was just about your entire world? If you can remember that long-ago feeling of attachment to a parent, or if you have a child, or if you have longed for a child of your own, your heart will break for little Lucy. And it will break for all the grown-ups who loved her, whether they had a right to or not.

    This story can feel so slow that you might be tempted to give up. It's gorgeously written, but slooooow. Much of it takes place on a lighthouse rock 100 miles off the tip of Western Australia. The setting accounts in part for the pokey pace, but it's also a big part of the novel's charm. Somewhere in the last third of the book you'll begin to appreciate the mastery in the careful build-up. The pace will pick up (a bit) and you'll be glad you stayed with it.

  • Matthew

    The book - 4 stars

    The audiobook - negative 1000 stars! (more on that later)

    This book was a soul crushing catch-22. The decisions the characters had to make and the options they are presented with range from totally awful to not all that great. It was interesting to read a book that felt the entire way through like there is no chance for a happy ending. Which bad option will be the outcome?

    The audiobook is terrible. So bad that I will never listen to another book by this reader (Noah Taylor). Hi

    The book - 4 stars

    The audiobook - negative 1000 stars! (more on that later)

    This book was a soul crushing catch-22. The decisions the characters had to make and the options they are presented with range from totally awful to not all that great. It was interesting to read a book that felt the entire way through like there is no chance for a happy ending. Which bad option will be the outcome?

    The audiobook is terrible. So bad that I will never listen to another book by this reader (Noah Taylor). His odd inflections, weird and frequent pauses, poor enunciation, and whispering made this painful to listen to. As much as I did enjoy the book, I was thankful when it was over.

  • Ninoska Goris

    Español - English

    “A veces deseamos tanto algo que nos engañamos y creemos haberlo encontrado.”

    Lo que se nos presenta aquí es una historia moral, entre lo bueno y lo malo que conlleva una decisión. Eso sí, muy bien escrita.

    Thomas (Tom) Sherbourne después de terminar la Primera Guerra Mundial y queriendo dejar atrás todos los malos recuerdos de su niñez y la muerte de soldados, decide presentarse para el puesto de farero, mientras mas lejos y solitario mejor. Pero cuando llega al puerto de Partage

    Español - English

    “A veces deseamos tanto algo que nos engañamos y creemos haberlo encontrado.”

    Lo que se nos presenta aquí es una historia moral, entre lo bueno y lo malo que conlleva una decisión. Eso sí, muy bien escrita.

    Thomas (Tom) Sherbourne después de terminar la Primera Guerra Mundial y queriendo dejar atrás todos los malos recuerdos de su niñez y la muerte de soldados, decide presentarse para el puesto de farero, mientras mas lejos y solitario mejor. Pero cuando llega al puerto de Partageuse para de ahí partir a su destino final, Janus Rock, a la primera persona que ve al desembarcar es a Isabel Graysmark.

    Isabel Graysmark es joven, extrovertida, hermosa y sabe lo que quiere: quiere casarse con Tom y vivir con él en la isla del faro. Cuando lo logra vive una vida feliz con Tom en la solitaria isla. Tom es todo lo que una esposa podría desear: es atento, cariñoso y trabajador.

    Toda esta felicidad se ve empañada por dos abortos y un parto prematuro donde el bebé nace muerto. Aunque esta es la raíz principal del tema del libro, creo que no se explica bien, no sentí el sufrimiento de Isabel ante su incapacidad para tener hijos.

    Un día aparece en la costa un barco con un hombre muerto y una bebé. Isabel convence a un indeciso Tom de no dar parte a las autoridades del hallazgo y quedarse el bebé para ellos.

    Cuando visitan a los padres de Isabel en Partageuse se enteran que la madre de la bebé está viva. Isabel se niega a entregar a Lucy, pero a Tom le remuerde la conciencia y decide hacer algo y ocultárselo a su esposa.

    Este es el punto en que se afina la línea entre el bien y el mal. Aunque esta tercera parte del libro se alarga mucho, es muy emotiva. El final me pareció adecuado porque, desde mi punto de vista, todo quedó como debió quedar.

    ---

    What is presented here is a moral story, between the good and the bad that comes with a decision. Yes, very well written.

    Thomas (Tom) Sherbourne after finishing World War I and wanting to leave behind all the bad memories of his childhood and the death of soldiers, decides to opt for the position of lighthouseman, farther and lonely the better. But when he arrives at the port of Partageuse and then leaves for his final destination, Janus Rock, the first person he sees when disembark is Isabel Graysmark.

    Isabel Graysmark is young, extroverted, beautiful and knows what she wants: she wants to marry Tom and live with him on the island of the lighthouse. Where she manages to live a happy life with Tom on the lonely island. Tom is everything a wife could wish for: he is caring and hardworking.

    All this happiness is marred by two abortions and a premature birth where the baby is born dead. Although this is the main root of the subject of the book, I think it is not well explained, I did not feel the suffering of Isabel before her inability to have children.

    One day a ship with a dead man and a baby appears on the coast. Isabel persuades an undecided Tom not to give the authorities of the find and keep the baby for them.

    When they visit Isabel's parents in Partageuse they learn that the mother of the baby is alive. Isabel refuses to surrender Lucy, but Tom regrets his conscience and decides to do something and hide it from his wife.

    This is the point at which the line between good and evil is sharpened. Although this third part of the book is very long, it is very emotional. The end seemed appropriate because, from my point of view, everything was as it should have remained.

  • Barbara Williams

    I am going to start with review with a disclaimer. This review is subjective, from my point of view etc. I thought this book was terrible, bad, no good. You don’t have to agree with me, and you could think that this was the most AMAZING book and your eyes almost exploded from all the awesomeness that traveled through them to reach your brain which leapt in your skull with every sentence you read, and that is fine. I do not think that you are inferior to me.

    Now on to my review. Stop here for spo

    I am going to start with review with a disclaimer. This review is subjective, from my point of view etc. I thought this book was terrible, bad, no good. You don’t have to agree with me, and you could think that this was the most AMAZING book and your eyes almost exploded from all the awesomeness that traveled through them to reach your brain which leapt in your skull with every sentence you read, and that is fine. I do not think that you are inferior to me.

    Now on to my review. Stop here for spoilers (although you might regret it! It’s an awesome review.)

    I am not one to judge books by their covers, although a good cover is always a bonus, and this book has a excellent one. Props to the graphic designer. Combined with being on the New York Times Best Seller list, and having an first rate premise, I thought this one was a winner. But I was wrong. DEAD WRONG (ok that is a little dramatic.) If I was describe my reading experience like the ocean tides, sometimes I would be fine, floating near the shore, but other times it would sweep me out to sea with its ridiculousness. The conclusion didn’t help the novel’s case. It left a distinctly bitter taste in my mouth.

    So basically the premise is that a couple, Tom and Isabel, living on a island in a lighthouse in Australia, find a dead man and baby ashore. Isabel, filled with grief from her last three miscarriages, begs her husband to kidnap the baby and bury the dead man in a ditch so she can be fulfilled as a woman and finally have a child. She assumes that the mother is dead, so I mean, is she really doing anything wrong? It’s like when you find a stray dog and it has a collar. What if the dog was being abused, so that’s why it ran away? It’s your duty to keep that cute dog and love it forever. Except…. This is a BABY. Now I have never had a miscarriage, nor have I ever had children, so I guess this is why I hated Isabel so much. I don’t understand her point of view AT ALL. I agreed with Tom, and was pretty mad when his sympathies got the better of him. I mean really, it’s a BABY people. It is a human life you're messing with!

    So Tom and Isabel visit the main land like every three years, and this time they bring the baby, who they have named Lucy, for her christening and to show off to everyone. Now here comes the twist: the mother is alive! Shocker I know. So Tom once again is like, “Hey, this is kidnapping now, and the mother is literally insane with grief. Maybe we should give back her baby.” And Isabel is all like, “No! I can’t have babies. And I am a selfish person who is pretending to be a good person by saying it is better for the baby if she stays with us. We can’t confuse Lucy!” For me, I have always thought love was doing what is best for the person you care for. Apparently, this is not what Isabel thinks love is, so this makes her the villain of the story in my perspective.

    So of course, Tom and Isabel are found out eventually, all by Tom’s doing, so he takes the blame for everything. This is the point where I want to give up on the book, and it’s not because I hate Isabel for letting Tom take the blame to make him suffer for taking Lucy away. The story is full of pointless dialog and characters (and not even Jane Austin style with enjoyable pointless dialog.) It is like Stedman’s publisher was like, “This novel has to be 300+ pages so, get on that and write me some more!” I think I would have enjoyed this story much more if it was a short story. I skimmed the last chapters, just so I could be done with it.

    Now there are some redeeming factors to this novel ( I mean it’s not like this is 50 Shades of Gray terrible, I gave it two stars) . Stedman is a great writer when it comes down to descriptions of the island of Janus and little antidotes about the 1920’s in Australia. I just didn’t like her characters, NOT one of them.

    So my conclusion is read this book for yourself and make up your own opinion. As for me, I still need to learn that “judging a book by its cover” is a phrase for a reason.

    ***EDIT***

    So I just found out that they are making this book into a movie. Because Hollywood.

  • Suzanne

    I just can’t do this. Halfway through, but cannot go on. There are people waiting for this library copy, and the library is calling it back in, so I am going to relinquish it to someone who actually

    to read it.

    Given the moral choices that form the heart of the plot, this could have been a much better book, if it were, you know, well-written. Apart from the fairly good initial characterization of Tom Sherbourne as a WWI vet suffering from memories of a troubled childhood and PTSD from war

    I just can’t do this. Halfway through, but cannot go on. There are people waiting for this library copy, and the library is calling it back in, so I am going to relinquish it to someone who actually

    to read it.

    Given the moral choices that form the heart of the plot, this could have been a much better book, if it were, you know, well-written. Apart from the fairly good initial characterization of Tom Sherbourne as a WWI vet suffering from memories of a troubled childhood and PTSD from war time experiences, and some alright landscape descriptions, this book was, on the whole, filled with sappy, simplistic and sentimental writing than rendered the whole thing fairly bad. And the longer it went on, the more the badness grated on me. I had to give up at page 176 because I no longer cared about the consequences of the moral choices the characters had made, even though the intrinsic complexity of the questions at the core of the story remained an interesting dilemma. Getting to any possible answers (if there were any) or even seeing how it played out was just too painful. Thank you, Kerry, for your review that released me and saved me from a few more hours of this.

    My Recommendation: Avoid.

  • Khanh (the meanie)

    There's this married couple, their names are Tom and Isabel. For the purposes of this review,

    and

    but we'll shorten it to Batshit. It's 1

    There's this married couple, their names are Tom and Isabel. For the purposes of this review,

    and

    but we'll shorten it to Batshit. It's 1926 Australia, we're on a rock (it's actually called Janus Rock) in the ocean in the middle of nowhere, and considering we're in Australia, it's even middle-of-nowhere-er.

    Doormat is a lighthouse keeper. He records the motion of the ocean, the way of the waves, the bodies that wash ashore, and all of that. Well, not so much the bodies that wash ashore, because that happens just once, and apparently, once is one time too many because that didn't turn out well at all.

    The day when a man dies and is washed ashore is called

    Hoooooo-kay. Whatever you call it, Batshit.

    Ok, here's the situation. One day a dead body washes ashore. Along with it is a wee lil baby, a living baby. Batshit is a woman who desperately wants a child. She has suffered from multiple stillbirths and is grieving and is going slowly mad because of it. A long time ago, she was a woman who had a lot of joy and happiness in her. It was what attracted Doormat to Batshit in the first place.

    8 years later, we know what secret lies behind that "playful smile."

    Batshit wants a child. A baby washes ashore! Huzzah! It's a miracle! Only, the baby's not theirs to keep. Sure, it's 1926. And sure, it's Australia, the wild land populated by criminals and kangaroos and wombats (or maybe that's New Zealand?), and

    But in this lawless land, in this lawless time, there are still regulations and shit to be followed. That's why Tom's there, working as the lighthouse keeper. So

    Only he doesn't. Because his beloved Batshit insists on keeping the baby, for just a little bit longer, the way a 4-year old child says "Please, daddy, I'll go to bed in just 5 minutes!" It ain't gonna happen. It's never going to be just five fucking minutes, and Batshit isn't just planning to keep the poor half-dead baby just oooooooooone more day. Despite what Doormat tells her, against all fucking common sense to just, you know

    -_-

    Sure, the baby's mother isn't there. She must be dead. Somehow. Her body must be on the bottom of the ocean floor. The baby can't POSSIBLY have another relative on land.

    Makes perfect fucking sense. To someone who belongs in Bedlam asylum (not to be mistaken for Arkham asylum. This isn't

    ) Do they have a Bedlam franchise in Australia?

    Poor Doormat's got a crisis of conscience. He wants to do the right thing, but he's just so fucking in love with Batshit that he gives in. Totally whipped.

    Yeah, so they wait one day to turn the baby in. And the next thing you know

    Well, that escalated quickly!

    Uh, ok. So the baby can bottle feed, it's just more convenient to

    -____________-;

    And then next thing you know, the baby's got a name.

    Seriously, what the fuck? Now all thought of turning the baby in to the authorities is out the window, because how the fuck is poor Doormat going to explain the fact that

    Clearly, they're in some deep fucking doodoo.

    And Batshit is there in her little land of happiness, contented with the fact that she has her wewy own baby!

    Let's just throw out all reason out the window.

    What woman would let her baby out of her sight? Maybe a desperate one? Maybe one who gave her to a nanny while she was away? Guh!

    So there they live, in blissful happy ostrich-in-the-sand-land for several years. Until they realize that, well, shit

    And she ain't a bad person, or a despicable person.

    So as it turned out, the baby's mother is alive and breathing. And wealthy. And scared, and lost, and lonely, because she's lost her husband AND her child. Poor Hannah may be rich, but she's had to fight for her love. She fought to marry

    , and this was pretty bad, considering this is post-WWI. Her father disinherited her, she had to work menial labor, she had to suffer a lot to marry the love of her life. And now her husband may be dead somewhere, she doesn't know (

    ) and her daughter may be dead somewhere, she doesn't know (

    ).

    So Hannah is now searching for her husband and daughter. She is wealthy because her father has accepted her again. If Batshit and Doormat returned the baby (

    ) (who's more like a small child by now), Lucy will have a happy life with a loving mother, a loving aunt, and a doting grandfather, not to mention she'll be rich as fuck. Settled for life, yo. The natural thing, the good thing to do would be

    But of course, they're not called

    by me for nothing.

    So there's poor Hannah. In mourning. Desolate. Childless.

    And here's how Batshit reacts to that.

    :

    It is a love borne out of madness and obsession. It is a love that is full of mindless devotion on Doormat's part, with pure emotional manipulation on Batshit's part.

    Doormat's mad devotion to his wife will eventually be his own downfall, and as we will learn towards the climax of the book,

    Overall: This book didn't convince me of anything. There were morality issues that failed to send any sort of message besides that of "crazy woman is crazy," "life sucks," and "men need to grow some balls." I didn't like any of the main characters, I ended up being sympathetic to Hannah aka poor mom who lost the kid, which made it all the more frustrating when crazy woman is constantly shoved in our face.

    Maybe I'm not supposed to like the main characters, but why the hell should I bother to read a book if everything about it frustrates me?

  • Chaitra

    ETA: Sep 20, 2015

    Oh, this review. First, I read this book way back in 2012. I don't know that I would write such a review now, whether or not I hate a book. I've had an attitude shift, if not in life, then in review writing. I've wanted to change it for a while now, but I don't remember most of the book. I also can't make any defense against specific arguments from commenters who liked the book, because of the same.

    I read this when I had no baby. At some point after I had my own bundle of joy,

    ETA: Sep 20, 2015

    Oh, this review. First, I read this book way back in 2012. I don't know that I would write such a review now, whether or not I hate a book. I've had an attitude shift, if not in life, then in review writing. I've wanted to change it for a while now, but I don't remember most of the book. I also can't make any defense against specific arguments from commenters who liked the book, because of the same.

    I read this when I had no baby. At some point after I had my own bundle of joy, I considered reading this book again, especially since a number of people I trust mentioned that it was a much better reading experience for them. But the difference was this, they sympathized with Isabelle more than Hannah. I did the opposite. And having my baby wasn't going to change that, if anything I would feel Hannah's pain more keenly. But the main reason I haven't read this book up again is because I couldn't remember the actual language being any good. I might be misremembering all of the above, but I don't care enough to read it again to confirm one way or another. I will watch the movie at some point, because the director made Blue Valentine - with two unlikable characters - and I loved it and understood both of them. Maybe he will bring something to the table that the book, for me, didn't.

    Anyway, please read this review knowing that I would not have written it exactly the same today, even though I still dislike the book. I welcome comments from everyone, especially people who liked the book, because maybe enough of those will convince me to read it back - I'm big on second guessing myself.

    ***

    The review:

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