The Light Between Oceans
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The Light Between Oceans

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  117,183 ratings  ·  16,789 reviews
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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, afte...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Scribner (first published 2012)
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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...more
Gabe
The Light Between Oceans was an incredible 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 (Tom) and his wife (Isabel) find a life boat with a dead man and live baby in it on the beach and have to make tough decisions regarding the baby's future.

This book was an incredible quick read, but never once did I feel it was forced or lacking in anyway. The s...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
"Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel. Sometimes it just bites right through you. And sometimes, just when you think it's done its worst, it comes back and takes another chunk."

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,...more
Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)
On the Offshore Lights you can live any story you want to tell yourself, and no one will say you’re wrong: not the seagulls, not the prisms, not the wind.
So Isabel floats further and further into her world of divine benevolence, where prayers are answered, where babies arrive by the will of God and the working of currents.
There's this married couple, their names are Tom and Isabel. For the purposes of this review, Tom = Doormat and Isabel = Batshit Crazy but we'll shorten it to Batshit. It's 19...more
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 wants 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...more
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...more
Chaitra
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristalia
FINAL RATING: ★★★★★/★★★★★

“...or I can forgive and forget...Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things...we always have a choice.”





One word: Beautiful. And also beautiful. and beautiful. and beautiful....

I cannot even begin the review properly. This book crushed my feelings, brought them back together and did it all over and over again. I smiled and i cried.
...more
Jennie Walters
I enjoyed this book, particularly towards the end, which was more subtle and unexpected than I'd predicted. My reservations were largely that some of the dialogue seemed a bit clunky, and at first the relationship between Tom and Isabel, the main protagonists, didn't quite convince - the scene where Isabel imitates the other dinner guests, for example, didn't succeed for me. But by the end, I had really warmed to Tom, the hero of the book, who although damaged by his experiences in the war, is s...more
Averil
My very first book for 2013, and one I spent the latter half of last year just longing to get my hands on.

Well, I finished The Light Between Oceans in only two sittings, in one single day! And this novel - a heartbreaking exploration of right and wrong, and the lonely windswept grey island which lies between the two - has completely wrung me out on only Day One of a brand new reading year.

How I wept. I mean absolutely WEPT. No parent could bear such sorrow, on either side of the swirling misery...more
Rob Mango
Light Between Oceans. (Stedman)

Much has been written about the conclusion of counselor Stedman's impressive debut. Prepare to encounter a plot in which one is held suspended until the final chapter,the author skillfully engages the template of the irresolvable outcome.We who require fiction, know this perilous path.Not unlike her characters there is vulnerability for her along this intrepid heading, dividing the readers into camps of wanting ,needing a particular resolution,in order to avoid the...more
Rose
I have been in a deep reading slump and "The Light Between Oceans” was so very refreshing for me. I could almost feel the sea spray and smell the sea air. The details about isolated living on the tiny island really grabbed my imagination. The story swept me up like an ocean wave and kept me tumbling until the end. You can see the train wreck coming but have no idea how or when it will happen and how the characters will deal with it, you can't look away. This is a wonderful story about the fragil...more
Michelle
This is an odd book. It is, in a large way, quite boring not to mention depressing. It’d be like if some woman came up to you and told you about her horrible life but using a monotone voice. You’d be partway falling asleep and partway amazed at the dreadfulness. I’m not sure what made it so dull. Maybe it was the writing style: showing not telling, corny people and dialogue, random backstories, one single plotline without much other noise or complexity. The lighthouse stuff was interesting and a...more
Julie Ekkers
The Light Between Oceans falls short of its promise. It is very plot-driven and thus, keeps the reader flipping the pages, and there is some lovely writing (though also some lengthy expository passages just dropped in instead of woven in). However, I did not find the characters to be very believable. For example, I did not feel Isabel's grief over her multiple miscarriages was expressed such that her belief a baby washed up in a rowboat with a dead man *must* be an orphan was convincing. I wasn'...more
Elaine
This book was amazing. Totally heart wrenching. Probably one of the best books I've read this year. For the last 140 pages I could not put it down and I could not stop crying. I just bawled my way right to the end!!! Brilliant first novel.
Diane
"You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things."

This is an engrossing novel in which one person's happiness inadvertently causes misery for another. Tom fought in World War I and returns to Australia to become a lighthouse keeper on an isolated island. He meets and marries a sweet girl named Isabel, who becomes desperate for a child. One day, a baby is found in a boat that washes ashore, and Isabel thinks it's a mi...more
Nannie Bittinger
I've only got 2 cd's left and am so disappointed with this audio version that I'm posting a 1 star rating now. The story is excellent and I'd give it at least a 4 if not a 5 but I'm missing so much because the reader is SO difficult to understand. When he reads dialog it's not so bad but when he's just reading the narrative, I'd say I am able to understand half or less of it. The Australian accent is perhaps part of the problem but I listen to books recorded by people with British accents all th...more
Alex Duncan
Finished this one in a day. Courageous characters and very strong women.
Tania
"We live with the decisions we make".

I absolutely loved this book. It did not want it to end, but could not put it down. It was beautifully written and the characters were all very well developed. I felt for all of them. The setting was interesting, I've never thought about living in a lighthouse, on a small island, hundreds of miles from everything else. Most of all though I was riveted by the story. It touches on so many moral issues, without being judgmental. This is also one of the best lov...more
Blair
The Light Between Oceans is a simple yet almost ingeniously original tale about, as the book's blurb has it, 'right and wrong, and how they sometimes look the same'. Set in 1920s Australia, it is the story of Tom Sherbourne, a solitary war veteran turned lighthouse-keeper, and Isabel, his young wife. Following a necessarily brief courtship in the small seaside community of Partaguese, Tom takes Isabel to his lighthouse on isolated Janus Rock, where she dreams - in vain, as it turns out - of star...more
Lou
A wonderful moving heartfelt story.
The lighthouse has a new occupant a veteran who soon finds himself amongst the quaint beautiful surroundings in need of company and finds love then eventually as the tide passes and the seasons change they have need for children like many couples do. They fear one day this passage of joy and happiness will be swept away from them for very good reasons. In the course of having and raising a child they go though a process of emotions and feelings that go with lo...more
Jane
Once upon a time there was a very shy little girl, who loved books and the sea. She was fascinated by lighthouses: tall structures that emitted lights through a series of lenses, to help ships find their way safely through treacherous waters. Grace Darling was her heroine, and she wondered what it would be like to live like her, on a small, inaccessible island, visited only by supply ships.

As she grew up the girl discovered lots, lots more in books and she almost forgot the magic of lighthouses....more
Missy
This book was so beautifully written, so touching, and heartbreaking all at once. As a mother of two small children I almost exclusively read once my little ones are in bed for the night. While reading this book each night I was constantly fighting my urge to put the book down and run into my girls' rooms and just look at their sweet and tender sleeping faces, just because I, unlike some of the characters in this book, can. This book made me feel fortunate and blessed to be a mother while at the...more
Diane Yannick
I stopped reading the book for a whole day because I was so afraid the author might have written a bad ending and ruined my book. She didn't. It was a satisfying story from beginning to end. Now I can worry that someone will make a bad movie of it.

The setting was off the coast of Australia in a lighthouse in the 1920's. I was right there-- thanks to the lush but not overwrought descriptions. The love story between Isabel and Tom Sherbourne unfolded slowly until both characters were fully realize...more
Ruth
I nominated this one for my reading group, but since it didn’t get voted in I decided to read it by myself. It would have made a good discussion book if only because it is chock full of moral dilemmas with no easy answers. However, the writing is very uneven. There are some beautiful turns of phrases, but there’s an awful lot of repetitive explanation and telling, when showing would have been more effective.
Barbara
Mar 21, 2013 Barbara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Barbara by: Debby and Rose
I frequently give thought to what appeals to us in our reading. Certainly,appreciation of a book is influenced by our life experiences, but there must be more. The effort that an author takes in writing has to contribute to the many dimensions of telling her tale. With all of that in mind, I have come to the easily reached conclusion that M.L. Stedman has achieved her goal. It is not difficult for me to give her my rare 5 star rating.

This is an unique, stirring tale of a young Australian couple...more
Suzanne
This is really a 3 1/2. I really enjoyed meeting Tom, the lighthouse keeper, a man who could tell no lies. His attention to the light house and Janus is admirable. His career in the Army is heroic. He is a loving husband and father, though somewhat damaged son and brother.
I was shocked that Isabelle's mourning family so readily allows her to marry and live on isolated Janus, so far from them. Isabelle, from the beginning is a "wild child." I can see how her disappointments would make her very de...more
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I was totally mesmerized by not only the characters, setting (an island off Australia) and plot, but best of all, by the author's use of language. Examples: A boardinghouse landlady is "as stout as a pepper pot." Another character is described as having "a bulldog scowl." It wasn't long before I knew I was in the hands of a talented writer.

Another appeal factor is the suspense involved when the lighthouse keeper, Tom Sherbourne, and his wife Isabel decide to keep a baby that washes ashore in a b...more
Dem
May 27, 2013 Dem rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dem by: Ann
The light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is a beautifully written and emotional story which I enjoyed very much. A back to basics Novel with a good plot.

This story is about right and wrong and how sometimes they look the same.

Tom Sherbourne who released from the horrors of First world War is now a lighthouse Keeper cocooned on a remote Australian island with his young wife Izzy, who is content in everything but her failure to have a child.
One April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead m...more
Robert
A woman’s love for her child never falters, never truly manages to say goodbye. It’s a powerful message, and one certainly worthy of an entire novel that spans decades. Based on this theme, the timespan seems appropriate, even if there’s a lot of back and forth between the past and present, at least initially, before the theme really takes hold, and the story takes off a bit.

Isabel was a hard character for me to like, but then I’m not a mother, and I have absolutely no context for what it’s like...more
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M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.
More about M.L. Stedman...
Buzz Books 2012

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“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” 347 likes
“Scars are just another kind of memory.” 231 likes
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