Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Light Between Oceans” as Want to Read:
The Light Between Oceans
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Light Between Oceans

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  434,338 ratings  ·  36,478 reviews
Grca badge winner
Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take 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
Hardcover, 362 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Scribner (first published March 20th 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Light Between Oceans, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kayla I didn't think this book was beautiful. I thought it was slow, depressing and even when you think something good will happen, I guess it sort of does,…moreI didn't think this book was beautiful. I thought it was slow, depressing and even when you think something good will happen, I guess it sort of does, but it's slow to come as well.(less)
Karen Hsu I figured around 4 and a half.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  434,338 ratings  ·  36,478 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Light Between Oceans
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
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
"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,
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
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Please visit to see this review and others...

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is a heart-wrenching story about a relationship between two people and the risks they're willing to take for each other.

I'm going to say that for me, the story was heart-wrenching. You can feel the love that Tom and Isabel have for each other. Tom, who would do anything for Isabel, is a special character I fell in love with from the start. Is what they do right or wrong? The story i
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
i found this story to be rather simple, but theres a certain kind of attractiveness present in its simplicity.

the uncomplicated nature of the storytelling really allowed me to not only imagine, but connect with, the loneliness of being the sole lighthouse keeper on an isolated island, the unforgiving beauty of the sea, and the quaintness of a sleepy seaside australian town.

its definitely the writing and the atmosphere it creates that propels this story. oh, and tom. tom deserves every good thi
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Ninoska Goris
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leido-2017
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
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,
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
this book kept my interest all the way to the end. was hoping for a slightly different ending however, would recommend as a book you 'don't want to miss'. ...more
Final rating: 5/5 stars

“...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.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very good but I'm giving it 3 stars because I'm being severe with the story and not get carried away by emotion. It is a 'rocambolesque' (topsy turvy) tale, narrated by the all knowing author.

See, I can't decide whether the drama in the book has crossed the line and become melodrama. I know that there are worse books out there, and that many classics are not as good as this book.

Despite that, I need an honest view of the book. I need to look at this rating in 4-5 years and say I rat
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
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, top-50
'' The oceans never stop. They know no beginning or ending. The wind never finishes. Sometimes it disappears, but only to gather momentum from somewhere else... ''

'' He watches the ocean surrender to night, knowing that the light will reappear.

What a book... What a lovely story..such wonderful prose.. The Light Between Oceans tells the story of Tom and Isabel, two of my most beloved characters ever! Their unconditional love leads them to the wrong decision. And then there's no going back...

Nov 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Due to its subject, I postponed reading this novel for years although I had it in my library. Since it was on my list of books to read this year I gathered the courage and went for it.

The writing was beautiful and I immediately warmed to the main character, Tom, but I was increasingly frustrated by the decision the couple took. The Synopsis in a few words goes like this. Tom is a WW1 veteran and in order to lick his psychological wounds he accepts to be a light keeper on a remote island on the
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 dea
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you want to cry and see your tears falling in your book read this , it's just heartbroken ...more
Violet wells
Sep 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 21st-century
Just as well I’m not a commissioning editor as I would have binned this after about sixty pages.

Essentially The Light between Oceans is a novella that has been fattened up on starch and additives to a 446 page novel. You could doze off for 50 page sections and still wake up to exactly the same scenery without having missed a single landmark of importance. Because it’s a novel that is built on a single plot idea with no supporting cast of ideas. The idea is that a lighthouse keeper and his wife
This story is so multifaceted it is a tough one to review. I slept over this book, mulling around, wondering what to take from it. It was haunting me! I was waking up several times during the night, thinking about yet another angle to it. The most important question was:
Where did this tragedy really begin?

Tom Sherbourne returned from WWI to Australia, struggling with his own role in the war. He witnessed his friends being shot; he shot people himself. He was a decorated war hero, yet never want
Jennie Walters
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
5★ Fantastic debut novel
Oh what a tangled web we weave! It’s too easy to justify to ourselves what we want to do rather than what we’re pretty sure we should do – no, that’s wrong – we know exactly what we should do. We just can’t bear to think about it. . . yet. Like Scarlet O’Hara, we’ll think about it tomorrow.

I’m a great rationaliser and pretty handy at arguing either side of a question, so I find it easy to imagine being in the shoes of all these different characters. And they are distincti
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5ish stars.

Typically I'm fundamentally opposed to any book endorsed by Oprah. Having said that I also have a weakness for the occasional weepy melodrama as long as it's classy. I took a chance here. I don't know what's with me lately because this is the second book I've cried over this month and I couldn't even tell you the last time it's happened.

Once (if) you accept that the plot revolves around an isolated couple who find a baby in a boat that's washed up on the shore of the lighthouse wher
This is too big a novel to do it justice with my poorly articulated review. So, I'll just write down a few things.

First of all, I can't get my head around this being a debut novel.
I was captivated from the first paragraph. The writing has such a beautiful flow, the descriptions are so vivid. The third person narration is used masterfully, there are no unreliable narrators, we get to know the inner thoughts, feelings and history of most characters.

Our main hero, Tom Sherbourne, is an actual Wor
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-physical
Beautiful, sad tragic and will make you shed a tear at the end.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story of fate, the unfairness of life, and the consequences of the choices we make.
Disclaimer: I had a difficult time with the audiobook experience. The narrator is the very talented Noah Taylor, and unfortunately I struggled with his accent and overall articulation. I tried every speed adjustment from slow-mo, normal, and hyperspeed, but I had to continue rewinding to ensure I understood what was being said. For this reason, I lost my reading momentum several times which may have impacted my overall enjoyment - I can't say for certain. I think my response to this book is in t ...more
Rob Mango
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Orphan Train
  • All the Light We Cannot See
  • The Secret Life of Bees
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  • The Nightingale
  • The Kitchen House
  • Sarah's Key
  • Water for Elephants
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
  • Before We Were Yours
  • The Invention of Wings
  • The Paris Wife
  • Lilac Girls
  • The Memory Keeper's Daughter
  • A Man Called Ove
  • The Great Alone
  • The Red Tent
  • Projector for Sale
See similar books…
See top shelves…
M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.

Articles featuring this book

The Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Historical Fiction sets her heartbreaker of a novel, The Light Between Oceans, on a remote island off...
65 likes · 58 comments
“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” 907 likes
“Scars are just another kind of memory.” 599 likes
More quotes…