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The Light Between Oceans
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message 1: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 12832 comments Start discussion for The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman here.


Bonnie Read this earlier this year- with another book club- and will be interested to see how your views compared to ours. Our next big vacation/trip will be to Australia, so I hope maybe to actually see some places mentioned one day- we are shooting for 2014, but it may be later.


message 3: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 12832 comments Bonnie wrote: "Read this earlier this year- with another book club- and will be interested to see how your views compared to ours. Our next big vacation/trip will be to Australia, so I hope maybe to actually see ..."

What a great trip that will be! I would love to go there myself. I think the island the lighthouse was on is fictitious, but the inland locations are probably real.


message 4: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Scheffler (DanScheffler) | 25 comments Is anybody else struggling as much as I am to read this book?
The first 140 pages were pleasant enough, but quite slow, essentially describing what I already knew from the blurb on the back of the book.
Then the story becomes very dark and I am now really finding it hard to pick the book up, because of all the negativity, suffering and unfairness that the characters endure.
The ethical dilemmas described in the book are interesting and worth exploring and the book is well written, but I would also like to enjoy my reading experience a little!


Jessica | 504 comments I'm somewhere around 140+, and whilst reading wanted to comment that I'm glad this wasn't such a dark book. I was afraid that it would be as painful as The Bone People to read! Now I'm apprehensive about what comes after.


message 6: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Scheffler (DanScheffler) | 25 comments Jessica wrote: "I'm somewhere around 140+, and whilst reading wanted to comment that I'm glad this wasn't such a dark book. I was afraid that it would be as painful as The Bone People to read! Now I'm apprehensive..."

Although The Bone People dealt with a very dark topic (child abuse), I could tolerate the unpleasant parts of the book much more easily. Maybe it was because I loved the author's style and prose, or maybe it was because the harrowing parts were interspersed with pleasant narrative. The other factor is that the abuse described in The Bone People was more physical (of course physical abuse will also cause psychological harm) and that the father who inflicted the abuse still loved his son. The suffering in The Light Between Oceans is psychological, which to me is worse and it is more widespread (i.e. affects several individuals).


Jessica | 504 comments I got to page 243 last night. It does feel more widespread indeed, though I wonder whether that's because (view spoiler)

It is interesting what you said about "the father who inflicted the abuse still loved his son." In this book, both Tom and Isabel loved Lucy too. But I must say Tom really suffered greatly from guilt for not reporting the discovery of Lucy. I wonder how you feel that compares with The Bone People, where Joe suffers from guilt for inflicting pain on Simon? For me such things can't possibly be measured, but in a way I felt bad for the fathers in both books.


Bonnie I loved Tom as a character, but never really attached to Isobel. I felt sorry for her. All in all, though, I stayed in the background enough that I could enjoy reading it despite knowing right away things were going to go very badly in the end.


Jessica | 504 comments Same here. I feel for Tom but am still quite detached from the story mostly, so I'm not struggling as much with this as I did with The Bone People.


Allyson So happy to see this group on Goodreads and thrilled to have a chance to read this book. I live in Western Australia and have been to Albany as well as toured the Fremantle prison which is 10 minutes from my house (it's not used anymore, they only give ghost tours and such). I listened to the Audible version and absolutely loved this book, especially the narration. I fell in love with both Tom and Isobel and their little family.


Danielle (daniellecobbaertbe) | 68 comments Read it earlier this year and loved it. It's a very multi layered story on family in general.


Helen Phillips | 8 comments I really enjoyed reading this book. Unlike some of you, I read it in a weekend--I really could not put it down. Tom was haunted by his war experience and found the perfect job to hide from that horror. Isabel brought love to the island as well as the hope of a brighter future. Once she decided to keep Lucy, Tom loved her too much to stop the lies. This story is a remarkable depiction of parental love.


message 13: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Scheffler (DanScheffler) | 25 comments Jessica wrote: "Same here. I feel for Tom but am still quite detached from the story mostly, so I'm not struggling as much with this as I did with The Bone People."

Bonnie wrote: "I loved Tom as a character, but never really attached to Isobel. I felt sorry for her. All in all, though, I stayed in the background enough that I could enjoy reading it

I also couldn't identify very well with the characters, and I also found Isobel less convincing as a person than Tom.
I wouldn't compare the guilt Tom suffered in this book to any guilt in The Bone People, because I feel the reasons for guilt are too different. In the end, I found this book too much hard work for the "reward" I'm getting from reading it and because it's a library book and the due date is comming up, I'm not going to finish it.



Sarah | 662 comments I won't be able to get to this book until late in the month or early July but look forward to to the discussion. Also I have and will be posting discussion questions for our other read The Kitchen House that I have at the ed of my copy.


Connie G (connie_g) | 810 comments I read the book several months ago, and could really feel the pain of the characters. Tom was haunted by the war and his wife was overcome with sadness after multiple miscarriages. Because they didn't do the right thing at first, they had to make harder ethical decisions later where there were many shades of gray and where someone was going to get emotionally hurt.


message 16: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (last edited Jun 11, 2013 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 12832 comments Connie wrote: "I read the book several months ago, and could really feel the pain of the characters. Tom was haunted by the war and his wife was overcome with sadness after multiple miscarriages. Because they d..."

I really felt the pain of the characters, too, and could empathize with all of their situations. I would not have made some of the same choices that the characters made, but I can understand why they did the things they did.


message 17: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy | 13 comments There was so much pain in this book but also so much forgiveness. I liked how Hannah asked the court for clemency for Tom and Isabel. I thought that was remarkable given all that she went through with her child and husband. My favorite character was Septimus.


LauraJ (laurajpetri) | 18 comments Katy wrote: "There was so much pain in this book but also so much forgiveness. I liked how Hannah asked the court for clemency for Tom and Isabel. I thought that was remarkable given all that she went through..."

HAH! Good thing I don't mind spoilers. :D

I'm enjoying the book so far, not very far in but I like the writing style. I thought it there was going to be more drama and whining but there isn't. Hopefully it stays that way.


message 19: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy | 13 comments I am so sorry Laura! That's what I get for commenting early in the morning.


message 20: by Jocelyne (last edited Jun 16, 2013 10:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jocelyne Lebon | 55 comments I just got back from a trip and I have read your posts with great interest. I really enjoyed the book overall and found the description of the harsh environment of Australia very compelling. I remember once visiting Australia and checking my shoes in the morning to make sure there was no scorpion lurking.

There is enough hardship and heartache to fill a couple of Greek tragedies and either I was overwhelmed or numbed but I also found it hard to feel truly emotionally involved with any of the characters, except at the point of conflict resolution where I was disappointed. SPOILER ALERT!!!!! DON'T READ THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISH THE BOOK. And could someone kindly explain to me how to hide a spoiler. I am such a dullard.

All were victims and had been brutally scarred by life, but at the risk of shocking some of you, and I am certainly ready to be challenged and even swayed, I saw nothing laudable in Tom's decision. Quite on the contrary, I thought he acted selfishly caring only about his own conscience and in doing so, he took the burden off and dropped it squarely on the poor little Lucy, who to me is the real victim. Isabel did not arouse my sympathy because I believe that her reaction was far from selfless and I think that the most noble act came from Hannah at the time when she wanted to strike a deal with Isabel and give up her child because she was the only one who truly cared about the welfare of the little girl. Too bad she did not carry her nobility all the way and forgive Tom at that time.
I believe that Tom had to live with the consequences of his decision and not try to right a wrong by creating a worse situation, i.e. yanking that poor child away from the only family and environment she had known for the first 4 years of her life. When the moral dilemma is between two lesser evils we know that there can't be any true happy ending. I have no respect for Tom's decision.
Maybe I was unduly influenced by the case of Baby Richard which some of you may recall. The circumstances were quite different but the result was the same. A baby boy had been legally adopted by a loving couple from an unwed single mother who had hidden her pregnancy from the sperm donor from whom she was separated. A couple of years later, when he found out, this narcissist set the pride in his seed above all else and claimed the child. A merciless judge decided that the right thing to do was to snatch the poor child, by then 4 years old, from his loving parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, school....to give him to a total stranger. I could not in my mind separate the two cases.


message 21: by Dana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dana | 13 comments I read this novel last year. I gave it 3 and a half stars and posted the following review.

Stedman's evocative imagery paints vivid pictures of the various settings and the insight she gives into her characters is skilfully done. In no time, the reader is drawn into Tom and Isabel's dilemma and left to wonder what he/she would do in their shoes. Because we are made to feel for both protagonists, the line between right and wrong is blurred, and their journey somewhat becomes our own. That's not easily done and Stedman carries it off with ease. However, and I agree with some readers here, I found that certain scenes slowed down the pace and made me lose momentum in my reading. Having said that, it is a well-crafted complex story that makes for an enjoyable read.


message 22: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Rosa | 6 comments Helen wrote: "I really enjoyed reading this book. Unlike some of you, I read it in a weekend--I really could not put it down. Tom was haunted by his war experience and found the perfect job to hide from that hor..."

I feel the same way. I'm almost done and I also couldn't put this book down.


message 23: by Suzanne (new) - added it

Suzanne | 96 comments I'm torn about whether to finish this book or not. I'm really not a judgmental person, but I'm finding the decision to keep the baby without trying to find the parent(s) appalling. I'm listening to the CD's and the narrator is terrible! He seems to be Australian, which is nice for the authenticity, but he speaks very softly and mumbles the last half of every sentence. Even if I turn the CD up loud I still have trouble making out some of the words (and I'm not hard of hearing!!).

I think I'll turn the CD's back into the library and try the book instead. From reading everyone's posts sounds like the book could still be compelling.


Jocelyne Lebon | 55 comments Amy wrote: "Helen wrote: "I really enjoyed reading this book. Unlike some of you, I read it in a weekend--I really could not put it down. Tom was haunted by his war experience and found the perfect job to hide..."

It is a compelling read; I could not put it down either even though I did not agree with the conflict resolution.


LauraJ (laurajpetri) | 18 comments Suzanne wrote: " From reading everyone's posts sounds like the book could still be compelling. "

There's definitely some mixed reviews. I think I went into this thinking it wasn't going to be that great on top of it not being my genre of choice, but it's turning out not so bad.

I like the way time passes. Big sections for big events but small events scattered in among the years.

Not sure I'd call it 'compelling' as I'm only about an hour away from the end and chose to put it down and go to sleep last night instead, but it's keeping my interest while I'm focused on it.


Jocelyne Lebon | 55 comments Suzanne wrote: "I'm torn about whether to finish this book or not. I'm really not a judgmental person, but I'm finding the decision to keep the baby without trying to find the parent(s) appalling. I'm listening ..."

Suzanne, I am sorry about the bad narrator's voice, but I must say you really made me laugh out loud!!!


message 27: by Suzanne (new) - added it

Suzanne | 96 comments Jocelyne wrote: "Suzanne wrote: "I'm torn about whether to finish this book or not. I'm really not a judgmental person, but I'm finding the decision to keep the baby without trying to find the parent(s) appalling...."

:) Glad something good came out of the CD's!!


Allyson That's funny, Suzanne-The narrator made the book for me and I was glad I had listened to the story on audible. It made me feel completely immersed in the characters. I noticed the way his voice softened at the end of the sentences also, but it seemed to fit Tom's personality.


Jennifer | 109 comments Just finished this last night and I actually liked it more than I thought I would. I felt for Tom because he was so torn between trying to find out more about where the baby came from and helping his wife heal by giving her the baby she was not able to have herself. I don't think I really connected with Isabel's character as much for some reason.


Jocelyne Lebon | 55 comments Jennifer wrote: "Just finished this last night and I actually liked it more than I thought I would. I felt for Tom because he was so torn between trying to find out more about where the baby came from and helping ..."

I agree with Jennifer that Tom was the character with whom I felt the most connected, even though I did not care for the way he handled the situation. And just like you, Jennifer, I just could not feel anything from Isabel. I think it may have to do with the fact that she hid her self-interest (wanting to be a mother)behind what she claimed was the best for the child. She does not come across as sincere to me. That being said, I probably would have kept the baby too!


Sarah | 662 comments I am reading this book now and am at about 190 pages in and I was thinking what this must be like for Tom having a father who separated him from his mother. He knows what this loss is and now he is separating Lucy from her own mother. This must be an inner nettle for him. And Isabelle is just fooling herself saying it is better for Lucy to not be separated from them because Lucyc sees them as her family now. Is she delusional, trying to justify this when really it is about what is best for her. Actually Lucy is still young enough that if they were going to reveal this truth the time should have been when they discovered this. Lucy would probably be able to adjust. But then would they get in trouble for not reporting in the first place?


message 32: by Sarah (last edited Aug 01, 2013 06:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah | 662 comments I have to say this book has not wowed me so far as I thought it would. I have heard nothing but rave reviews. And I don't think there is anything that spectacular about her writing either. Granted it is a hard act to follow after just finishing The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - now that was a hidden treasure - total awesomeness - and I loved loved the writing.


Jocelyne Lebon | 55 comments Thank you for the strong recommendation for THe Dovekeepers. I am adding it to my pile. Sounds exciting.


Sarah | 662 comments Isabelle' s character is difficult to read. She just takes no responsibility for her actions. She is destroying the lives of other people, including Lucy, because of her own selfishness.


Cindy | 17 comments The Light Between Oceans

I believe M.L.Stedman will take you to places you've never been and to places you have. Each will be be poetically and realistically depicted. The author has a beautiful way of transporting her readers, not just to different places, but to different states of mind. This is a fantastically well-written, contemplative yet captivating story.

Group read June 2013
I read August 2015
My rating: 5-stars
Region: Australia


Alana (alanasbooks) | 101 comments Helen wrote: "This story is a remarkable depiction of parental love. "

I have to disagree. *spoilers in this post, btw*

In the very beginning, they simply assume that the baby does not have any living relatives who would be looking for her, because their own grief is so near that they just accept the "gift" they are given and don't think about the consequences to others. In this case, they took a child, albeit unknowingly, from it's mother, causing potential psychological harm to the child down the road. That is NOT love. What was to stop them from reporting it, and if no parents were found, to adopt the baby themselves? Or it at least could have spurred them to go to one of those dreaded orphanages and adopt a child who was free and clear to be theirs. The logic was ridiculous.

And then, after KNOWING they are depriving a woman of her daughter, they carry on! How on EARTH, as now for all purposes a parent herself, could Isobel have lived with herself knowing what she was doing to another mother? I get that mother love is strong, but knowing it was HER fault? Honestly, who DOES that?

I was actually relieved when the police showed up, because despite the trauma that Lucy Grace was going to go through, she was still very young, and would more or less recover, and would be with someone who hadn't lied to her for the entirety of her life. And what kind of marriage could Tom and Isobel have had, really? Building on all of those lies? How could they ever possibly trust each other? How could they have taught Lucy right from wrong, and about integrity?

I thought the ending would have been better if it was right when the jail period was over, without the last bit where Lucy Grace shows up, in perfect cliche, right after Isobel has died. Just too neatly (and forced emotionally) wrapped up for me.

And I can't imagine if someone had done that much for you, being willing to lie for you, and giving himself up for you, that you could let ANYONE think he might have KILLED for you? I'm sorry, but even with the whole "losing my child" thing, Isobel was a selfish, petty child. Granted, Tom seemed to agree to marry her more or less on a whim, so to some degree, he made his bed. But still, no one deserves to be treated like that. I didn't find Isobel to be sympathetic at all, even when she was in tears over Lucy, because I honestly felt like she was finally paying some consequences, however horrible they were, for the lies and choices she made.

3 stars at best for me. I guess I thought there would be more to it with all the hype.


message 37: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 2989 comments I started reading this book and sort of enjoyed it until they kept the baby. I quit reading it as soon as I realized that the wife knew the baby's mother was alive. The cover was the best part of the book for me.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 101 comments Rosemarie wrote: "The cover was the best part of the book for me. "

I do love the cover, I'll say that!


message 39: by Jean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jean I read this in July of 2015 and really enjoyed it. Rated it 4.


Sucharita Paul Tiwari | 4 comments Was expecting a different or rather better conclusion.. Don't know if anybody would agree with me but i found the book a little unrealistic and superficial.


message 41: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 2989 comments I only read about 40 pages or so and then stopped reading because the book didn't appeal to me at all, especially once they were on the island.


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