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The Light Between Oceans

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  161,822 ratings  ·  20,438 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 January 1st 2012)
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Kelley I found the first two parts of the book extremely slow and almost DNF'd it. I only kept going because it was for bookclub. Isn't the first rule of…moreI found the first two parts of the book extremely slow and almost DNF'd it. I only kept going because it was for bookclub. Isn't the first rule of bookclub: finish the book?(less)
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Karen Chow I figured around 4 and a half.
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Community Reviews

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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
The Light Between Oceans 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 ...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,
Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
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 1
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
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,
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

“...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. But it w
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
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
Diane Librarian
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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.
Dale Harcombe
Absolutely loved this book. I was right there with Tom, a returned World War 1 veteran, and Isabel as after three miscarriages she urges Tom to make the decision to keep the live baby washed up in a boat with her dead father. Rightly or wrongly, sympathies were with this couple in their isolation at Janus Rock. The reasoning and motivation behind them deciding to keep the baby is explained so well as is Tom’s inner conflict at the decision, wanting to do the best for his wife yet knowing what th ...more
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.
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
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
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.
My heart is still in my throat and tears are still drying in the corners of my eyes.

I wanted to stop reading several times. I only kept on because of the encouragement of my friends, whose judgement I trusted. I know why I needed to now.

Life is definitely not easy after a war. Love can come so unexpectedly. That is what happened to Tom. Isabel was the love of his life and Tom never allowed himself to give that up, no matter what else happened.

The fairy existence of living on a small island 10
Ms. Stedman offers us many issues to consider in post-war Janus Rock, Australia.

~ What can happen to a relationship, to a life, predicated on a gigantic lie? A lie so huge that if the truth came out, many lives would be shattered. A lie that one feels agonizingly guilty over on a constant basis.

~ Is it better for a child to stay with her "adoptive" parents, or to be returned to the birth family who are now complete strangers? Such stories when they come up on the nightly news simply break my h
Dec 20, 2014 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
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
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
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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.” 470 likes
“Scars are just another kind of memory.” 349 likes
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