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The Light Between Oceans

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  200,773 Ratings  ·  23,460 Reviews
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10 hours, 21 minutes

The years-long New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper o
Audio CD, Unabridged , 9 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published January 1st 2012)
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Kaitlyn You keep putting it down because the set up for the story takes too long. But Part Two starts on page 85, which is when it starts to pick back up,…moreYou keep putting it down because the set up for the story takes too long. But Part Two starts on page 85, which is when it starts to pick back up, you're just going to have to make it to there.(less)
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Karen Chow I figured around 4 and a half.
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By the title
45th out of 167 books — 41 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Dec 17, 2015 Gabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 (the Grinch)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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,
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
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
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,
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. B
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
Feb 07, 2013 Averil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jan 12, 2013 Rob Mango rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2013 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it
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
Light keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife, Isabel, live in isolation on Janus Point in Australia in 1926. When her third pregnancy ends with the child stillborn, Izzy is devastated as her first two had resulted in miscarriages. Seemingly miraculously, a boat turns up with a crying infant and her obviously deceased father. Tom and Izzy make a decision in that moment that will forever change their and many others' destinies.

What a beautifully written story for such tragic circumstances. Whatever y
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
Dannii Elle
This the most heartbreaking, sweetest, honest, brutal, messiest and cry-worthy of stories! The subject matter is dark and yet it is dealt with a grace and beauty that alleviates the brooding atmosphere and moral ambiguity and transforms what could be a dense read into a relatable and evocative one. The landscape, story and the characters all came to life through the utter beauty of the writing and I now find myself longing to live in a lighthouse. Literary fiction at its finest!
Tea Jovanović
Jun 30, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okej knjiga, lepa priča... Ali u načelu nije mi se promenilo mišljenje o knjizi sad kad sam je dočitala do kraja... Dakle, počela sam da je čitam još u rukopisu, pre nego što je i objavljena u svetu... I posle nekih 20-30 strana nije me kupila, a i mislim da ne leži našem balkanskom duhu i senzibilitetu... Previše je "engleska"... Jeste bila hit u zemljama engleskog govornog područja (pomoći će joj i film koji se snima), ali kod nas nikada ne može postati pravi hit... Na svakih 10-20 strana sam ...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
"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
Apr 26, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 22, 2014 Cherie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nannie Bittinger
Oct 25, 2012 Nannie Bittinger rated it did not like it
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
Dale Harcombe
Jul 20, 2015 Dale Harcombe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
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
It’s difficult to discuss this book without venturing into spoiler territory, so consider yourself forewarned.

The Light Between Oceans offers a strange reading experience. At times it seems as if two different authors are at work.

The world M.L. Stedman creates on Janus Rock, a lonely scrap of an island off Australia’s west coast where bruised, withdrawn WWI combat veteran Tom Sherbourne mans a lighthouse, is gorgeous. “Janus Rock, linked only by the store boat four times a year, dangled off th
Jan 21, 2015 Missy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex Duncan
Jul 05, 2013 Alex Duncan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished this one in a day. Courageous characters and very strong women.
Opinions on this book, within my own little circle of friends here on GR, were, to put it mildly, divided. Some fell completely for the tragic story of Tom and Isabel and their seemingly hopeless endeavor to have a family; some felt that they were not the ideal target group because they weren’t mothers, or they felt they were being emotionally manipulated, or that the book was repetitive. Some were heartbroken, others annoyed. I was, to say the least, intrigued before going in.

The premise of th
I really must review as I go, as a comment on how I feel about this novel is a little bit pointless a year or so after it is much forgotten in that time span. Great book, I did love it, I guess I'm a mum and that in itself stirred me up whilst reading. I'm a fence sitter at times and I really don't know how I'd 'judge' the different parties in this story. The events rolled along after a boat ended up on a shore with one person dead and one person alive. What would you do???? But wow thi ...more
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The Light Between...: Chapter 11 - Chapter 15 Discussion 14 18 14 hours, 24 min ago  
The Light Between...: Chapter 6 - Chapter 10 Discussion 21 29 Jul 27, 2016 06:49AM  
Bookworm Bitches : March 2013: The Light Between Oceans 64 328 Jul 24, 2016 06:16AM  
Screen & Page: The Light Between Oceans 3 3 Jul 23, 2016 09:51AM  
The Light Between...: Preface - Chapter 5 Discussion 27 31 Jul 18, 2016 11:09AM  
The Light Between...: Trailer and Casting Discussion 7 21 Jul 09, 2016 06:18PM  
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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...

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“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” 562 likes
“Scars are just another kind of memory.” 423 likes
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