The Light Between Oceans Read-A-Long discussion

The Light Between Oceans
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Chapter 6 - Chapter 10 Discussion

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Simon & Schuster Canada (simonandschusterca) | 22 comments Mod
* Please keep in mind, there will be spoilers for the chapters we are currently discussing, but if you've read ahead, please don't share any details for those who are reading the book for the first time.

CHAPTER 6 – 10 DISCUSSION

Like many of you, I could not WAIT to read more of The Light Between Oceans!

I want to start off our discussion with this quote from Isabel:

“So none of the light gets away without earning its keep.”

There was something about this quote, paired with some really poignant light and dark imagery from Stedman that really got me thinking about Janus and the force it has over this couple - forever tied to the lighthouse, unable to leave.

These chapters started off with letter writing, something I love to read in a book. I find time really jumps in TLBO (The Light Between Oceans) and we saw this with the second letter ending in a confirmed marriage between Tom and Isabel. In these chapters, Stedman further portrayed something that was mentioned in the previous discussion, Isabel’s naiveté.

It was lovely to read Tom and Isabel’s newlywed interactions alone on the island. When Isabel experiences her first miscarriage, there was a line that Tom says that I felt was really important:
“You’re the only thing in this world that I want, Izz, and you’re right here…”
It gives me the feeling that Isabel and Janus may be enough for Tom and fulfills his life, but that in turn this may not be the case for Isabel.

Chapter 10 is where the book really begins to push forward. We are brought to the scene from the preface and the baby washes ashore. This could not have come at a more vulnerable time for Isabel as we learned she just suffered a truly heartbreaking miscarriage, again.

I want to leave some discussion for the group so let’s jump right in!

The quote that made the most impact on me:

“He took her hand, but remained bewildered. And deep withing, his uneasiness grew.” (Ch. 10, pg 96)

QUESTIONS:

1. Janus Rock is named for Janus, the Roman God of doorways, “always looking both ways, torn between two ways of seeing things.” (pg 65) How does this knowledge impact your reading of The Light Between Oceans? Who is “torn between two ways of seeing things”?

2. Discuss the theme of opposites in The Light Between Oceans—darkness and light; safety and danger; land and water; truth and lies. How do these opposing forces shape your reading?

3. Do you think Tom’s relationship with his mother influences the way he feels and acts in the most desperate situations that are posed in the novel, especially in regards to the arrival of the baby?

4. Isabel’s naiveté seems to be playing a constant theme so far in the book. She has a habit of consistently laying claim to things that don’t belong to her, such as the places on Janus. While she lays claim, Tom considers himself a guest: “Janus did not belong to him, he belonged to it…”. How do you think these two opposite approaches will play out in the future?

Can't wait to hear what you think!

- Caitlyn


message 2: by Ainy (last edited Jul 16, 2016 07:01AM) (new) - added it

Ainy K | 5 comments These chapters fully explain the relationship between Tom and Isabelle. Isabelle's miscarriages were heart wrenching. Tom & his mom's story was very sad. PoorTom is torn between his love/life and duty!!
Opposites attract and that is what makes the world go round :D
Isabelle and Tom are perfect, they sort of complete each other. She does what he would not. He thinks the way she might not. Yet they love each other unconditionally. It is true love :)
Tom's personality, his upbringing, education and life experiences all influence how he reacts to the baby and difficult situations. He thinks, he ponders, he is considerate and he knows how much it hurts to lose someone you want/love. So far it seems like he uses his heart and brains to make decisions.
Ummmmmmm I want them to keep the baby and never give her back :$ to anyone. (If they weren't there at Janus or didn't get to her in time but they did) It is destiny..... Perfect time, perfect place, perfect couple with a perfect baby. Alas, nothing in life is ever truly perfect so I look forward to reading ahead :)))


ebookclassics | 6 comments I really enjoy how the author suggests throughout the book how opposites can either be complementary or destructive. As if to describe the complex nature of Tom and Isabel's relationship. As everyone has mentioned, it creates a lot of foreboding and this feeling that things are going to get ugly.

Tom placed a lot of hope in the idea that finding his mother would make him feel whole and less empty inside. I think he now projects those feelings onto Isabel and rather than risk losing her, he would ignore his moral compass and all the accompanying red flags to let her keep the baby.

Although I feel bad that Isabel had so many miscarriages and the arrival of the mysterious boat is almost serendipitous, I agree with Tom about returning the baby. I'm very curious to hear what other readers thing. Should Isabel and Tom keep the baby?


Heather (heathermmoore) I think Tom and Isabel should return the baby. No question. They don't know what the circumstances were that led to the baby arriving there. They (well Isabel) has made a lot of assumptions based on nothing.


Heather (heathermmoore) 1. Janus Rock is named for Janus, the Roman God of doorways, “always looking both ways, torn between two ways of seeing things.” (pg 65) How does this knowledge impact your reading of The Light Between Oceans? Who is “torn between two ways of seeing things”?

Definitely Tom!

2. Discuss the theme of opposites in The Light Between Oceans—darkness and light; safety and danger; land and water; truth and lies. How do these opposing forces shape your reading?
I think definitely truth and lies and I can see these two things shaping the remainder of the novel

3. Do you think Tom’s relationship with his mother influences the way he feels and acts in the most desperate situations that are posed in the novel, especially in regards to the arrival of the baby?
I don't know if it's this relationship that much as all of them. His guilt over the war, his inability to deal with Isabel's grief (he would do anything to make her feel happier). I think it was mostly Isabel's grief that made him cave to her decision.

4. Isabel’s naiveté seems to be playing a constant theme so far in the book. She has a habit of consistently laying claim to things that don’t belong to her, such as the places on Janus. While she lays claim, Tom considers himself a guest: “Janus did not belong to him, he belonged to it…”. How do you think these two opposite approaches will play out in the future?
That's interesting. I hadn't thought of that before.


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Krystal (krystal_osmond) | 10 comments 1. Tom is definitely torn between 2 ways of thinking. On one hand, he knows the importance of documenting every thing that plays out on Janus Rock and therefore the boats arrival should be recorded, but he also wants to keep Isabel happy and he can so obviously see the happiness this baby has brought.

2. I think opposites can compliment each other or cause devastation. And I think we'll see a lot more of this in the upcoming parts of the novel.


3. I think all of the events in Tom's life so far influence his actions and feelings. He's a rule follower, he's cautious and he's sensible. And he's seen so much horror and devastation. Therefore he's eager to do right by the man and the baby.

4. I think Isabel feels more at home in Janus than Tom does. She's naming places, and now with keeping the baby, I think she'll be more reluctant to leave while Tom is a guest as stated and when time's up, he'll be ready and eager to leave. So therein lays a problem in the future.

So far, the quote that stood out for me, though sad, was very powerful.

"The old clock on the kitchen wall still clicked its minutes with fussy punctuality. A life had come and gone and nature had no paused a second for it." Pg 90


Annie | 8 comments In these chapters, we saw both the happiness and sadness that Isabel and Tom had in their first four years of marriage and living on Janus Island. I think that after living alone for so long and after their losses, it would not be hard to think of the arrival of the baby as meant to be and not give too much thought to the real mother in the outside world. I do think that they should have a harder time justifying to themselves that they should bury the deceased man and not report him.

I found the information about Janus interesting. Tom is the one who is torn between two ways of seeing things. He follows the rules and knows that the right thing is to report the boat and the man and the baby. He also loves Isabel and knows how hurt she has been after losing their last baby.

Tom and Isabel are opposites in a lot of ways. Their childhoods were very different and I think that is Tom’s upbringing is why he is comfortable following the rules and not needing to claim things as his own. Isabel seems to have had a happy childhood and is comfortable doing the things that she needs to do to make Janus more like home.

I think Tom’s childhood plays a big role in his character. He tells Isabel that his father was very strict. He probably imagined that if he could find his mother, things would be better. When he got a chance to look for this mother and found out he was too late, he went straight into the Army. I think that he really loves Isabel and she brings him out of his controlled life at little. I expect that we will see him in an inner conflict for the rest of the story between doing the right thing and trying to keep Isabel happy and his family together.


Hilary (songswrotemystory) | 7 comments I really enjoyed these chapters. We're past all of the major introductions and getting to know the world we're in, and we're starting to see how Isabel and Tom are together, and how they relate to the island, and how they manage to make things work when they are each other's entire world.

On one hand, there weren't too many substantial things happening. The miscarriages are important, because they set up the future, but most of this was character building. While we probably didn't need to see a lot of it, because it's not overly relevant to the story at hand, it was nice to get a sense of who our protagonists are. I figure it's all just making us fall in love with them, so we are more invested in the story later (can't speak for anyone else, but it's working for me).

It was nice to finally get to the matter at hand. We didn't get a lot in chapter ten, though. I'll bring back my argument from the last week's discussion where the prologue was wholly unnecessary, because it kind of made this chapter redundant. We got a couple of things out of it (how Tom deals with babies, for example, and how Isabel has already claimed Lucy), but honestly, it just seemed like we were rehashing the same stuff again. But we're past that now, so I have high hopes!

Perhaps this is just because I am not, and have no desire to be, a mother myself, but the thought of taking a child that isn't yours sets off alarm bells in my mind. I know people do crazy things when desperation sets in, but how can you not feel awful that you've taken someone's child? Even if both parents are dead, the parents would have had family or friends who likely cared about the child too. I can't even imagine how Isabel is justifying this, even when it's laid out on the page in front of me.

As for the questions:

1. I wouldn't say it impacts my reading at all, because it's not a new idea. From the moment we start the book, you know that it's going to be two sides battling with what they think is right. The vast majority of books are the same in this regard. But as far as characters go, Tom is definitely the one, as everyone here has said. Which, in my mind, makes him a little less crazy than Isabel.

2. C'est la vie. Opposing forces are just how life works. Also, see previous answer.

3. I wouldn't use the term relationship, but rather ideal vs. reality when it comes to his mother. I think he's always trying to fill that gap a bit, not necessarily just of his mother, but of someone who cares about him and about whom he cares. He cares about Isabel, she helps fill the void. He wants a baby, but he knows that it's not right to keep a child that isn't his, no matter how much he'd love to keep her or how much he wants to please Isabel.

4. I'd hazard a guess that Isabel will lay claim to the baby, and Tom will never see her as truly theirs. I get the feeling that Isabel sees the world as something she owns and creates, whereas Tom feels that outside forces shape his existence. It would be a hard thing for the two of them to come to terms on together.


Susan (suekitty13) | 9 comments 1. Janus is also known as the two faced god with one face looking to the past and one to the future. This is definitely Tom who can't forget his horrific past but wants to look to a brighter future with Isabel.

2. I would add war/peace and despair/happiness. These are the opposites that define Tom. He's clutching at peace and happiness through the lighthouse and Isabel, even though it might lead him to lies instead of the truth and wrong instead of right. The things we do for love!

3. Tom’s lack of a relationship with his mother definitely influences his actions. He didn't really have a happy family so he very much wants to create one for himself. A big part of that is keeping Isabel happy which leads to him indulging her with keeping the baby. Also at this point in history a family isn't complete without children. A married couple without kids would be pitied. Even more than the harassment in the present day! Lol!

4. I think that Isabel is just spoiled. She lays claim to things because she wants to possess them and keep them. Tom is more practical and with his past experiences he would understand that nothing lasts and that you can't keep things forever no matter how much you want to.


Melissa (YA Book Shelf) (yabookshelf) My favourite passage in this section is right after the miscarriage of their son: "A life had come and gone and nature had not paused a second for it. The machine of time and space grinds on, and people are fed through it like grist through the mill." It's one of the other opposites, though possibly more of an implied one, of before and after. Before when they were expecting and after when they, especially Isabel, was completely overcome with sorrow.

While I don't think keeping the baby, especially if it means hiding the information of the dead man she was found with, is right, I also feel empathy for the anguish Isabel was feeling. A big part of her struggle with the miscarriages and the stillbirth is the feeling that she was somehow at fault / to blame for it occurring because other women didn't have the same issue. She feels guilty and embarrassed for being unable to do what other women seem to do easily, especially at a time in which these issues weren't discussed openly. (Even now, nearly 100 years later, many men and women would still feel ashamed if and when they had these kinds of issues, and often keep the information to themselves...even though it's slightly less taboo to discuss it now.) Not only does she feel as if she failed herself and her husband, but also her own parents who are really looking forward to being grandparents, and she's the only one who can make that happen for them since both her brothers died in the war. With all of this, I do understand why Isabel might feel the need / desire / ability to justify this all to herself. It's also part of the reason that she's refusing doctors, because she's so ashamed and doesn't want anyone else to know what has happened.

For Tom, I think the loss of his mom has greatly impacted the way he sees the world and motherhood. He's afraid of it somehow, thinks it's a brace undertaking, and he doesn't understand why Isabel is so doggedly hopeful. At the same time, the idea of a baby on the way, makes him want to reach out to his mom, if he could, and makes him wonder how his own children will remember the feel of their mother's touch decades into the future, or not. I think it also impacts his obvious disgust when he sees Isabel breastfeeding a baby who isn't her's.

The opposites thing will be the one thing that could get between Tom and Isabel, especially due to her naïveté regarding the baby. He may go along with this scheme as he has done before and will do again most likely, but it might eat away at him more than it would her over the years and in the event that they're caught.


Deborah (mom2michael) | 5 comments Such a heart-wrenching decision to have to make. Isabel wants a baby so badly, and the timing does seem serendipitous. She is so ready to see this baby as a gift. I think the isolation they have been living in on Janus likely makes the "real world" and all the other people in it seem a little unreal. I imagine it would be easy to forget about the rest of the world, making it easy to discount a possible birth mother out there. Isabel's experience with her friend and the orphanage also definitely plays a role in her decision.


Jaclyn (jaclynmqh) | 7 comments I love how the book really lets us into Isabel's emotions -- her hope and excitement over choosing baby names, and her utter pain when each pregnancy ends in death.

1. I'd say both of them are torn between two ways of thinking. Tom, more obviously, is torn between wanting to make Isabel happy and wanting to keep the integrity of the lighthouse records, but also Isabel, who I think has an idea of a perfect family, and is struggling to come to terms with the reality that she may never have that. Her desire to pass the baby from the ocean off as her own is a desperate attempt at the appearance of a "perfect" family, yet she is all too aware that it isn't quite ideal.

2. With regard to the theme of opposites, I think The Light Between Oceans does a good job in blurring the lines between them. It seems pretty clear that the moral thing to do would be to return the baby, but then again as Isabel points out, giving up the baby doesn't necessarily mean they'll be giving it a good life. Possibly, giving it up means relegating it to an orphanage and perhaps keeping it when they know they can be loving parents is the right thing to do.

3. Yes, as perhaps his experience with his mother makes him more determined to make Isabel happy.

4. Isabel strikes me as quite a bit younger than Tom, and perhaps her level of self-centredness is part of what drew Tom to her as a perfect match for his level of self-effacement. Isabel is eager to shape her own destiny, regardless of how unrealistic her desires may be, whereas Tom is a lot more willing to fade into the background and let things unfold naturally. Given this, Isabel clearly is the more natural decision maker in the couple, and it'll be interesting to see if and how this dynamic shifts depending on how the storyline of the baby turns out. e.g. if the birth mother appears, will that spark Tom into asserting himself?


Chrystal (chrystalm) 1. I feel as though the main characters have opposite ideas on life and that there will always be a give and take, push and pull in the relationship. Tom is definitely torn between two ways of looking at things. He sees things as more black and white while Izzy sees the rainbow of options.

2. I would say the truth and lies opposite will be a major factor in this story. I don't think Tom want to lie, but will bend the truth for his love. but I have a feeling it will eat away at him.

3. For sure. I think he wants to be sure the baby has a family - even though his gut says to notify authorities. I also think Izzy mentioning the orphanage is what ultimately makes him choose to not report it.

4. I think that Izzy will get hurt more as she expects things to be her way while Tom is happy to experience things, let go and just keep the memories.


Shonna (macfsh) | 8 comments I think Tom is most torn between seeing things two ways. The best example is when Izzy is lying on the floor bleeding from the miscarriage and the sight of all the blood brings him back to the past of his war days.

I think Tom especially struggles with the opposites he faces. Right and wrong. Life and Death. Past and Future.

Tom certainly has some issues with having been abandoned by his mother. I'm sure his heart strings are pulled to see this newfound baby that seems to be abandoned.

Izzy is definitely laying claim on baby Lucy. No doubt about it. Ongoing I think Tom will struggle to think of Lucy as his own. They have made love for the first time since the miscarriage. I wonder if this love making will produce their first child.


The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori) (thecandidcover) | 9 comments Wow! What an exciting start to the story. I am really intrigued by the life they are living and in awe of anyone who can live in such isolation.

1. I believe that Tom is the one torn between two different points of view. He seems to be the one who has to see things Isabel's way, while trying to make sense of things himself.

2. Seeing the opposites through this theme really allows the reader to see the different viewpoints and will probably help us to understand both Tom and Isabel and the reasons for their thoughts and actions.

3. I absolutely believe that Tom is influenced by the relationship that he had with his mother in this decision. He seems to also always want to make Isabel happy and this makes me wonder if he would have been the same towards his mother.

4. The fact that Isabel is so naive and very impetuous makes Tom and his experiences seem that much more mature. I think that even though Tom appears to be the voice of reason, Isabel always gets what she wants. Tom is probably going to pay for Isabel's naivety.

I am really enjoying this story so far and I look forward to finding out what happens in part 2!


Aurora (auroralgr) | 5 comments I'm really enjoying this book so far and love the pace!! I can't stop thinking of it, and just want to devour it all. The story moves well between past and present that keeps me guessing and strikes a vivid contrast to Tom/Isabel's relationship.

It would seem the obvious choice that Tom is the one who is torn between two ways of seeings things, but I also believe that Isabel does too. She wants a certain lifestyle and wants to impart this on Tom. She is torn between her expectations and what is the reality of the situation. Even the fact she doesn't want a doctor present during all the miscarriages and stillbirth says volumes of her need to bend the situation to her will.

Tom's sad past with his mother has shaped his idea of motherhood, and effected his decision with Isabel and the baby. He wants her to have it not just for her own case, but also in a way to reclaim that experience he lost.

I do see that their opposite perceptions of the world will eventually clash for the worst. Tom adores her because of her fearlessness, and not being 'tainted' as he says, and she in turn pours her love into him. Eventually their mix of light and dark is going to be storm of it's own. He will have to intervene in one way or another, and she will never forgive him for it if he does.

I felt for Tom as he was quite helpless during the losses of the babies. I'm not sure if they would have been able to come back from it all without Lucy.


Simon & Schuster Canada (simonandschusterca) | 22 comments Mod
Annie wrote: "In these chapters, we saw both the happiness and sadness that Isabel and Tom had in their first four years of marriage and living on Janus Island. I think that after living alone for so long and af..."

I really enjoyed this response by Annie and her comparison of Tom and Isabel's childhoods and how that plays a role in their decisions in the novel.

I must agree with your point here:

"I expect that we will see him in an inner conflict for the rest of the story between doing the right thing and trying to keep Isabel happy and his family together."

I can't help feeling that it's unfair Tom must bear most of the torment on his shoulders and is plagued by this decision in the moment and most likely throughout the story.

Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Do you feel the author gives us more of a glimpse into Tom's mental state compared to Isabel's?


message 18: by Heather (new)

Heather Travis | 2 comments I think the comment on Tom's mental state is also a comment on Isabelle's - Tom is protecting her at all costs. He knows if he were to "do the right thing" by his conscience/moral standards he would fail her and she wouldn't be able to go on. she is so lost, so sad and finding the child is the only thing that saved her - Tom knows this. Protecting her, at the burden of his mental state, is protecting Isabelle's (fragile mental state).


Stephanie Holt | 7 comments So I am just about to start reading the next set of chapters. I am finding myself annoyed by these two people. My big focus is on the baby and the family of that baby. I have a feeling that this decision to keep the baby is going to have lasting impact on the world in ways that neither Tom nor Isabelle can even imagine.

I definitely feel like Tom is the protagonist and so we see more of his perspective than Isabelle's.


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Martina (fleurdemar) | 3 comments The further I read, the more invested I am in their lives! Oh, I wish work wasn't keeping me from this book and discussing it more with you all.


Deborah (mom2michael) | 5 comments Stephanie wrote: "So I am just about to start reading the next set of chapters. I am finding myself annoyed by these two people. My big focus is on the baby and the family of that baby. I have a feeling that this de..."

I'm all torn up inside. Tom & Isabelle made what I believe to be a terrible decision, but now they are all that baby knows. I don't think anyone can "win" in this situation after that initial decision to keep the baby and present her as their own set this all in motion.


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