The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

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I do not think that you are inferior to me. Now on to my review. Stop here for spo I am going to start with review with a disclaimer. Stop here for spoilers although you might regret it! I am not one to judge books by their covers, although a good cover is always a bonus, and this book has a excellent one.

Props to the graphic designer. Combined with being on the New York Times Best Seller list, and having an first rate premise, I thought this one was a winner. But I was wrong. If I was describe my reading experience like the ocean tides, sometimes I would be fine, floating near the shore, but other times it would sweep me out to sea with its ridiculousness. It left a distinctly bitter taste in my mouth.

So basically the premise is that a couple, Tom and Isabel, living on a island in a lighthouse in Australia, find a dead man and baby ashore. Isabel, filled with grief from her last three miscarriages, begs her husband to kidnap the baby and bury the dead man in a ditch so she can be fulfilled as a woman and finally have a child. She assumes that the mother is dead, so I mean, is she really doing anything wrong? This is a BABY. Now I have never had a miscarriage, nor have I ever had children, so I guess this is why I hated Isabel so much.

I agreed with Tom, and was pretty mad when his sympathies got the better of him. It is a human life you're messing with! So Tom and Isabel visit the main land like every three years, and this time they bring the baby, who they have named Lucy, for her christening and to show off to everyone. Now here comes the twist: the mother is alive! Shocker I know. Maybe we should give back her baby.

And I am a selfish person who is pretending to be a good person by saying it is better for the baby if she stays with us. Apparently, this is not what Isabel thinks love is, so this makes her the villain of the story in my perspective. The story is full of pointless dialog and characters and not even Jane Austin style with enjoyable pointless dialog. I skimmed the last chapters, just so I could be done with it. So my conclusion is read this book for yourself and make up your own opinion.

Because Hollywood. View all comments. Sep 05, Gabe 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 s.

The Light Between Oceans Review (Book Not Film!)

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 The Light Between Oceans is an incredibly moving novel about what happens when good people make bad decisions.

Through a mixture of misplaced intentions and unsupported superstition they decide to raise the child as their own -- deciding not to inform the authorities of the child's existence. Although the book was a quick read, I never once felt that it was forced or lacking in anyway. The plot is compact -- never wavering from its central theme. I enjoy this kind of focused writing. Irrelevant or distracting side plots would have pulled me away from Tom and Isabel's narrative and weakened my investment in their turmoil.

The story is highly emotional. Stedman crafts a perfectly gray scenario that forces its readers to question their own moral standing. This truly is reader manipulation at its most powerful. Allowing the reader to sympathize with morally ambiguous characters is a difficult task, however, Stedman presents her narrative in such a way that the reader can't help feeling the same inner conflict as Tom and Isabel. Considering this is Stedman's first published novel, I am incredibly excited to see what she produces next.

This was a masterpiece in storytelling. View all 39 comments. May 28, Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies rated it it was ok Shelves: adult , mental-illness , why-do-i-hate-myself. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 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. It's Australia, we're on a rock it's actually called Janus Rock in the ocean in the middle of nowhere, and considering we're in Australia, it's even middle-of-nowhere-er. Doormat is a lighthouse keeper. He records the motion of the ocean, the way of the waves, the bodies that wash ashore, and all of that. Well, not so much the bodies that wash ashore, because that happens just once, and apparently, once is one time too many because that didn't turn out well at all.

The day when a man dies and is washed ashore is called "the day of the miracle. Whatever you call it, Batshit. Ok, here's the situation. One day a dead body washes ashore.

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  • The Light Between Oceans : A Novel -;
  • M L Stedman.
  • The Light Between Oceans: A Novel.
  • Light Between Oceans: A Novel.

Along with it is a wee lil baby, a living baby. Batshit is a woman who desperately wants a child. She has suffered from multiple stillbirths and is grieving and is going slowly mad because of it. A long time ago, she was a woman who had a lot of joy and happiness in her. It was what attracted Doormat to Batshit in the first place. Batshit wants a child. A baby washes ashore!

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It's a miracle! Only, the baby's not theirs to keep. Sure, it's And sure, it's Australia, the wild land populated by criminals and kangaroos and wombats or maybe that's New Zealand? Once she does that, all you can do is batten down the hatches and wait for it to pass. That's why Tom's there, working as the lighthouse keeper. So when a dead man and a living baby washes ashore, Tom's got a whole lot of fucking paperwork to fill out. Only he doesn't. Because his beloved Batshit insists on keeping the baby, for just a little bit longer, the way a 4-year old child says "Please, daddy, I'll go to bed in just 5 minutes!

It's never going to be just five fucking minutes, and Batshit isn't just planning to keep the poor half-dead baby just oooooooooone more day. Despite what Doormat tells her, against all fucking common sense to just, you know turn the baby in to proper authorities, Batshit doesn't fucking listen. How would you feel if it was yours? The mother must have fallen out of the boat and drowned. Or about who the man was. Sure, the baby's mother isn't there. She must be dead. Her body must be on the bottom of the ocean floor. Makes perfect fucking sense.

To someone who belongs in Bedlam asylum not to be mistaken for Arkham asylum. This isn't Batman Do they have a Bedlam franchise in Australia? Poor Doormat's got a crisis of conscience. He wants to do the right thing, but he's just so fucking in love with Batshit that he gives in. Totally whipped. First thing, though. And the next thing you know Batshit's breast-feeding the baby! Well, that escalated quickly! Seconds later, the child had latched on fast, sucking contentedly, though only a few drops of milk came.

They had been like that for a good while when Tom entered the kitchen. Isabel looked up at him, her face a mixture of innocence and guilt. So the baby can bottle feed, it's just more convenient to breastfeed her. Now all thought of turning the baby in to the authorities is out the window, because how the fuck is poor Doormat going to explain the fact that they kept the baby for weeks, gave her a name, breastfed her, didn't notify the authorities right away, and didn't notify the authorities that they found a dead body that might be her father.

Clearly, they're in some deep fucking doodoo. And Batshit is there in her little land of happiness, contented with the fact that she has her wewy own baby! Let's just forget about the fact that the baby may or may not still have a mother or a relative. Let's just throw out all reason out the window. And lawfully, for that matter. Face it, Tom: she must have drowned. Maybe a desperate one? Maybe one who gave her to a nanny while she was away? So there they live, in blissful happy ostrich-in-the-sand-land for several years.

Until they realize that, well, shit the baby's mother might be alive. And she ain't a bad person, or a despicable person. And wealthy. And scared, and lost, and lonely, because she's lost her husband AND her child. Poor Hannah may be rich, but she's had to fight for her love. She fought to marry a German , and this was pretty bad, considering this is post-WWI. Her father disinherited her, she had to work menial labor, she had to suffer a lot to marry the love of her life.

So Hannah is now searching for her husband and daughter. She is wealthy because her father has accepted her again. If Batshit and Doormat returned the baby Lucy who's more like a small child by now , Lucy will have a happy life with a loving mother, a loving aunt, and a doting grandfather, not to mention she'll be rich as fuck. Settled for life, yo. The natural thing, the good thing to do would be to give Lucy that future. But of course, they're not called Doormat and Batshit by me for nothing.

So there's poor Hannah. In mourning. And here's how Batshit reacts to that. Seeing little ones sets her off. Understatement of the fucking century. The Romance : There is no romance in this book. It is a love borne out of madness and obsession. It is a love that is full of mindless devotion on Doormat's part, with pure emotional manipulation on Batshit's part. All you care about is your rules and your ships and your bloody light. Doormat's mad devotion to his wife will eventually be his own downfall, and as we will learn towards the climax of the book, that love is truly a one-way street.

Overall: This book didn't convince me of anything. There were morality issues that failed to send any sort of message besides that of "crazy woman is crazy," "life sucks," and "men need to grow some balls. Maybe I'm not supposed to like the main characters, but why the hell should I bother to read a book if everything about it frustrates me? The book - 4 stars The audiobook - negative stars! 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 The book - 4 stars The audiobook - negative stars! His odd inflections, weird and frequent pauses, poor enunciation, and whispering made this painful to listen to. As much as I did enjoy the book, I was thankful when it was over.

View all 77 comments. Jan 27, Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it Shelves: all-fiction , domestic-and-relationship-fiction , the-land-down-under , four-star-fiction. 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. 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, "Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel. And it will break for all the grown-ups who loved her, whether they had a right to or not. This story can feel so slow that you might be tempted to give up. It's gorgeously written, but slooooow. Much of it takes place on a lighthouse rock miles off the tip of Western Australia. The setting accounts in part for the pokey pace, but it's also a big part of the novel's charm.

Somewhere in the last third of the book you'll begin to appreciate the mastery in the careful build-up. The pace will pick up a bit and you'll be glad you stayed with it. View all 26 comments. Nov 03, Mischenko rated it really liked it. Please visit www. 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 Please visit www. The story is sure to test your moral judgement. I still want to spend my life with you. Izz, I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past. However, I do wish it would've ended differently. The conclusion I was looking for wasn't the one I received, but that's the way the author wrote it, and it's still good.

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

It's worth reading and I'd recommend it to anyone. I'm really looking forward to reading more by this author and hope she writes more in the future View all 16 comments. Feb 02, Suzanne rated it it was ok Shelves: book-club , did-not-finish. 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 time experiences, and some alright landscape descriptions, this book was, on the whole, filled with sappy, simplistic and sentimental writing than rendered the whole thing fairly bad. And the longer it went on, the more the badness grated on me.

For our next Book Club: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman.

I had to give up at page because I no longer cared about the consequences of the moral choices the characters had made, even though the intrinsic complexity of the questions at the core of the story remained an interesting dilemma. Getting to any possible answers if there were any or even seeing how it played out was just too painful. Thank you, Kerry, for your review that released me and saved me from a few more hours of this.

My Recommendation: Avoid. View all 49 comments. 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! So he became a lighthouse keeper, and over the next few years, he did his job, and learned his trade, until he accepted the What a wonderfully complex and morally riveting story!

So he became a lighthouse keeper, and over the next few years, he did his job, and learned his trade, until he accepted the job of lighthouse keeper on the small island of Janus Rock, an extremely remote location off the coast of Western Australia. The small township of Partageuse was where he spent a week or so, before heading out to the island for his first look at Janus Rock, with the help of Ralph and Bluey. They would come out in The Windward Spirit every three months with his supplies, any mail, anything that was needed. But in the time he spent in Partageuse, he met up with the lovely Isabel Graysmark, and over the next months, a quiet courtship occurred, with letters going back and forth on The Windward Spirit with Ralph and Bluey.

On their marriage, in , Isabel joined Tom on Janus Rock, and the two of them lived their lives happy, content, and isolated from the rest of the world. Their happiness was not complete however, as Isabel endured miscarriages and depression, with Tom struggling to comfort her. One April morning, with the wind blowing strongly, a boat was washed ashore, with a dead man, and a crying baby onboard.

The consequences of the choices they made that fateful day would live with them forever. As the years unfolded, their decision would see many lives affected, with an extremely devastating result. The continuing heartbreaking story will tear you apart, as you grapple with the right and wrong of love and loyalty. This debut novel by Aussie author M. Stedman is gripping in its intensity. I highly recommend this book. View all 35 comments. Cuando lo logra vive una vida feliz con Tom en la solitaria isla. Aunque esta tercera parte del libro se alarga mucho, es muy emotiva.

Yes, very well written. Thomas Tom Sherbourne after finishing World War I and wanting to leave behind all the bad memories of his childhood and the death of soldiers, decides to opt for the position of lighthouseman, farther and lonely the better. But when he arrives at the port of Partageuse and then leaves for his final destination, Janus Rock, the first person he sees when disembark is Isabel Graysmark. Isabel Graysmark is young, extroverted, beautiful and knows what she wants: she wants to marry Tom and live with him on the island of the lighthouse.

Where she manages to live a happy life with Tom on the lonely island. Tom is everything a wife could wish for: he is caring and hardworking. All this happiness is marred by two abortions and a premature birth where the baby is born dead. Although this is the main root of the subject of the book, I think it is not well explained, I did not feel the suffering of Isabel before her inability to have children. One day a ship with a dead man and a baby appears on the coast. Isabel persuades an undecided Tom not to give the authorities of the find and keep the baby for them.

When they visit Isabel's parents in Partageuse they learn that the mother of the baby is alive. Isabel refuses to surrender Lucy, but Tom regrets his conscience and decides to do something and hide it from his wife.

This is the point at which the line between good and evil is sharpened. Although this third part of the book is very long, it is very emotional. The end seemed appropriate because, from my point of view, everything was as it should have remained. View all 13 comments. Sep 21, Chaitra rated it did not like it Shelves: banging-heads-on-keyboards , historical-fiction , book-at-wall , great-cover-crap-book , literary-fiction , oprah-book-club-crap.

ETA: Sep 20, Oh, this review. First, I read this book way back in 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, I considered reading this book again, especially since a number of people I trust mentioned that it was a much better reading experience for them.

But the difference was this, they sympathized with Isabelle more than Hannah. I did the opposite. And having my baby wasn't going to change that, if anything I would feel Hannah's pain more keenly. But the main reason I haven't read this book up again is because I couldn't remember the actual language being any good. I might be misremembering all of the above, but I don't care enough to read it again to confirm one way or another. I will watch the movie at some point, because the director made Blue Valentine - with two unlikable characters - and I loved it and understood both of them.

Maybe he will bring something to the table that the book, for me, didn't. Anyway, please read this review knowing that I would not have written it exactly the same today, even though I still dislike the book. I welcome comments from everyone, especially people who liked the book, because maybe enough of those will convince me to read it back - I'm big on second guessing myself. How much did I dislike this book? Let me count the ways. First and foremost, the characterization.

They're all fairly unlikable. They are absolutely unlikable. Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel have had three miscarriages. They find a baby in a boat along with a dead man, and decide that the baby is God's gift to them, and keep it. This is easy to do, because they're in a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere. All they have to do is hide the dead body of the father somewhere.

They do this without turning a hair. They never ever think to at least make discreet enquiries if the baby had a family. They don't ever think that the father might be missed, that someone might be mourning for the pair of them. If they wanted a baby so much, why could they not have adopted one? There are plenty of war orphans around. Tom half-heartedly brings it up, and Isabel pooh-poohs the notion. The truth is, they do not try. They informally adopt her, and name her Lucy. Raising a child causes a transformation in Isabel, and she quickly becomes the caring mother she has long wanted to be.

Lucy also uncovers a loving side of Tom that had been buried by the war and an abusive childhood. When the Sherbourne family returns to Partageuse for the first time since Lucy's arrival, they introduce her to friends and family, and take her to be christened. Just before, they hear the story of Hannah Potts, a woman from a well-off local family, who married an Austrian, Frank Roennfeldt, which caused them to be ostracized by the town. On Anzac Day in , a drunken mob harassed and chased them, causing Frank to flee on a boat with their infant daughter Grace, and they were never heard from again.

Isabel persuades Tom that they should still keep their secret in the interest of the child. Tom, however, secretly leaves Hannah an anonymous note saying that her daughter is alive and safe. Lucy continues to grow under the love of Isabel and Tom, although he still harbors reservations about the morality of what they have done. Several years later, on another shore leave, he sends another anonymous package to Hannah, this one containing the rattle that Lucy had when she washed up. With this proof, Hannah's father increases the already-substantial reward he has offered for information about his granddaughter's whereabouts.

Bluey recognizes the rattle from the lighthouse, and the reward money convinces him to report this to the police. Tom is taken into custody and Lucy is returned to Hannah, leaving Isabel stricken with grief. Tom vows to protect his wife by claiming that he was the one that insisted on keeping Lucy, because he believes he is responsible for her being taken away. Hannah had long fantasized about the loving reunion of mother and child, so she is devastated that her daughter—whom she continues to call Grace—completely rejects her and sees only Isabel as her mother.

Isabel at first is furious at what she sees as Tom betraying her and refuses to cooperate with investigators, leading to some suspicion that he killed Frank and threatened Isabel into silence. She has a change of heart and realizes that Tom was acting in her best interests, and they tell the true story.

M.L. Stedman talks about 'The Light Between Oceans' -

Tom is released and Isabel receives a suspended sentence , and they settle together on a farm. Lucy-Grace, as she is now known, learns to love her biological family, and she does not cross paths with the Sherbournes until She visits after hearing that Isabel is dying of cancer, but she had already died a week earlier. Tom presents Lucy-Grace with a box of childhood memorabilia that his wife had saved. After she leaves, Tom feels happy and at peace with his life. The novel received positive reviews upon publication.

Sue Arnold writing for The Guardian called it "an extraordinary book" comparing the plot to Thomas Hardy 's works. Set on an island off the coast of Western Australia home territory for Stedman , the book tells the story of a World War I veteran and his wife, a childless couple with a loving marriage but no child to share the remote outpost that they call home. This couple — with a single breathtaking decision — set into motion an unimaginable course of events. I recently spoke with Stedman about her book.

Questions & Answers

Q: The story of "The Light Between Oceans" is so atmospheric, intense, and — in several senses — remote. How did this story come to you? A: I write very organically — a picture or phrase or voice turns up in my mind, and I just follow it. For this story, I closed my eyes and could see a lighthouse and a woman.

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I could tell it was a long time ago, on an island off Western Australia. A man appeared, and I sensed he was the lightkeeper, and it was his story. Then a boat washed up, carrying the body of a dead man. I kept looking and saw there was a baby in it too, so I had to keep writing to see who all these people were and what happened next. Q: Several of your characters face difficult ethical dilemmas. Some make poor decisions, but in the end, as we come to understand them, most turn out to be quite sympathetic people.

Would you say that this reflects your world view? I believe that people are born with a strong instinct for good. Compassion and mercy allows society to heal itself when we do. Q: Much of the story involves either loss — or fear of loss — of love. Would you say that you see this fear as the great driver of much of human experience?

In its infinite variety of forms, it plays a role in bestowing life with meaning. Q: The plotting in this novel is tight and neatly crafted almost like a ship, I kept thinking as I was reading. Do you think that your work as a lawyer has impacted your writing style in terms of attention to details, an ability to cross all the "t" and dot all the "i"s? I love the idea of the plot being as sound as a ship!

I think the greatest impact of my legal background is that it allows me to write freely and spontaneously, without meticulously plotting in advance.