Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Title: The Light Between Oceans
Series: Standalone
Author: M.L. Stedman
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 07/31/2012
Publisher: Scribner
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery


After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes 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 at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

MY THOUGHTS (Short and Sweet)

The Light Between Oceans is a gripping story filled with fallible yet decent characters. Even though I felt driven to continue reading I was filled with a sense of dread—knowing there were going to be repercussions for the decisions that were made. Not knowing how high a price Tom, especially, was going to pay for wanting happiness for his grieving wife, Isabel. Ultimately, I am pleased I was able to finish (within one day) and quite relieved by the postscript style ending. I'm quite impressed by this debut novel and look forward to reading more of M.L. Stedman's work.


"Like the wheat fields where more grain is sown than can ripen. God seemed to sprinkle extra children about, and harvest them according to some indecipherable, divine calendar." ~ author's voice


"The wind never finishes. Sometimes it disappears, but only to gather momentum from somewhere else, returning to fling itself at the island, to make a point which is lost on Tom. Existence here is on a scale of giants. Time is in the millions of years; rocks which from a distance look like dice cast against the shore are boulders hundreds of feet wide, licked round by millennia, tumbled onto their sides so that layers become vertical stripes." 
~ author's voice


“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering the bad things.” ~ Tom Sherbourne


“There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory....Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone.”  ~ author's voice