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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman

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4.14

(475)
|Views: 3,381 |Likes:
Published by Simon and Schuster
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.
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.

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Publish date: Jul 31, 2012
Added to Scribd: Jun 21, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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01/03/2014

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raven9167 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This novel features a series of excellent ethical dilemmas, as the two central characters (Tom and Isabel) are first confronted with the consequences of a choice they made for their own happiness that has come with a heartbreaking loss for another, and then must face a series of escalating, harrowing decisions as a result. It's one of those books that really causes you to wonder what would you do if you found yourself in the same situation. The author does a good job of demonstrating the pain on all sides that comes to the characters, and the burden of a guilty conscience.

But I had a lot of difficulty in buying into the premise. Yes, a lighthouse isolated from the outside world is a well chosen scenario for experimenting with choices that can be made without society's judgment a concern. But I could not believe that both characters, portrayed throughout the book to be fundamentally good people, would ultimately choose to do something so clearly wrong. While I can believe that being so far away from the rest of the world might cause one to lose one's moral compass a bit, these were two people who mutually seemed to lose sight of right and wrong. Even when they learn of the devastation they have wrought, they do not turn back, at least not at first. And this was enough to take me out of the book and left me more or less shaking my head in disbelief as this narrative path continued.

Well written and a decent bit of fiction, but when your entire plot hinges on an unbelievable decision (which could have been made very believable if either of the main characters were not so seemingly saintly) it drags the effort down a bit.
untitled841 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Incredibly powerful book that makes you gage your own interpretations of right and wrong under the circumstances presented by M.L. Steadman.
acorley84 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This book was simply AMAZING! It is not something that I would have ever picked up to read on my own, but I am so glad that I joined the book club and read it! It really had a spell-bounding story that did have a bit of a slow start, but from Chapter 3 on, I found it quite difficult to put it down each night! This author did jump from subject to subject rather quickly sometimes, but I think that kept you interested! You can't help but wonder exactly what you would do if you were in Tom or Izzy's shoes and then later on Hannah's shoes and your heart aches excruciatingly bad for poor little Lucy! Even though the story is based in the 1920's, the writing reflects modern language, which I myself personally really appreciated! I finished this book hours ago and it has left me with lingering thoughts about the story and how it ended! It was so nice to see that Tom and Izzy truly had an ever-lasting love and took their for better or worse, in sickness and in health vows very seriously! I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to add this book to my collection of read books! This is probably by far one of the best books I've ever read!
eidzior_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A husband and wife live on an island. The husband works as a lighthouse keeper. They experience the loss of three babies and suddenly one day a baby and her dead father appear on the secluded island.

The story of the choices we make and how they affect the lives of others, this was a beautiful story about the love a parent has for their children and the love spouses have for each other. Set in Australia, I highly recommend reading this before it comes out as a movie!
jillkb reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I took me over a 100 pages to really get into this book, but once I did, it was engrossing. This novel is filled with sympathetic, flawed characters who struggle with the pain that the war and life caused them, trying to find happiness and also do the right thing in a situation where everyone seems to be getting hurt. At different times, the characters all really struggle to do the right thing.

Some quotes I really liked.

"History is that which is agreed upon by mutual consent." (p. 155)

"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. All of us." (p. 323)

"We've put things right as well as we can. That's all we can do. We have to live with things the way they are now." (p. 333)
e5j reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I had a hard time deciding between 3 and 4 stars. I disliked one of the main characters so much (Izzy) I didn't feel any empathy so I left it at 3. The book started off almost feeling familiar to me too, like something I had maybe read before but the story was a good one.
dragonflydee1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Wow! From the get go you sort of figure out that this situation could have a devastating ending. But, it is well written and well worth reading. It will definitely tug at your heartstrings!
tracey8824_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
It’s not a life for everyone, working in a lighthouse. It’s lonely and secluded. It’s quiet and monotonous. The lighthouse keeper has to keep the light shining for the sailors and boaters who need it.

After World War I, Tom Sherbourne takes a job as a lighthouse keeper. It is just what he needs after all of the evil he saw on the battlefield. He can be alone with his thoughts without the interference of other people. He relishes the routine of caring for the lighthouse.

Then he accepts the job at the lighthouse on Janus Rock. Janus Rock is an island off of the coast of Australia. Before taking his post, he meets Isabel Graysmark. Isabel is young and naïve. She’s different from anyone Tom has met before. She is taken with Tom and the two write letters to each other while Tom is at the lighthouse.

Tom and Isabel get married and move to the lighthouse. The only thing that can make their lives better is to start a family. Each time, though, Isabel loses the baby. After their last baby is stillborn, Isabel is drowning in grief and despair and Tom is at a loss for how to take care of her.

One morning, a boat washes up on the shore of the island carrying a baby and a dead man. Isabel can’t help but think it’s a sign. Tom, the lighthouse keeper, knows he needs to report the boat and fill out the log. What Tom and Isabel do about the boat and its occupants will have readers questioning themselves about what they would have done and what Tom and Isabel should have done.

Readers of The Light Between the Ocean by M.L. Stedman are treated to vivid descriptions of life in Australia and working in a lighthouse. The story of Isabel and Tom’s marriage and their lives together will have readers awake very late into the night and missing favorite tv shows in order to learn where their story will end up.
bluesgal79 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
M.L. Stedman's debut effort would have earned 5 stars from me had there not been a couple of pivotal plot developments that felt rushed along, but even those lapses could not diminish the raw emotional power the novel held in store.

Stedman, and her story, are at their very best when she exercises economy of language, trusting the wholeness of her character development to fully inform the reader's empathy, even when the characters are not deserving of it.

There was a scene at the end of the book that was so emotionally perfect I could scarcely bear to turn the page. I wish I could say more, but trust that it struck such a true and resonating chord within me that I have written down my thoughts in my personal journal.

The developing buzz on this one drew me to it -- and I am glad I didn't wait any longer to pick it up.
rainpebble_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanI am weeping having just finished this book, one of the longlisted for the Women's Prize. (still Orange Prize to me)Tom, a Veteran of WWI & guilt ridden that he lived through the war when so many did not, has found that he is unable to cope in the world he has returned to. And so he has put in for a post on lighthouses where he will have solitude to ease his mind and soul. He works several relief 'Lights' before being sent to Janus Rock Lighthouse off Partageuse, Australia. The job requires him to be there 24/7 with supply boats coming out every three months and every three years he will have a leave. "For the first time he took in the scale of the view. Hundreds of feet above sea level, he was mesmerized by the drop to the ocean crashing against the cliffs directly below. The water sloshed like white paint, milky-thick, the foam occasionally scraped off long enough to reveal a deep blue undercoat. At the other end of the island, a row of immense boulders created a break against the surf and left the water inside it as calm as a bath. He had the impression he was hanging from the sky, not rising from the earth. Very slowly, he turned a full circle, taking in the nothingness of it all. It seemed his lungs could never be large enough to breathe in this much air, his eyes could never see this much space, nor could he hear the full extent of the rolling, roaring ocean. For the briefest moment, he had no edges."While in Partageuse before heading out to Janus Rock he meets a young lady and they are taken with each other and write back and forth as the supply boats come and go. Within a short time they decide to marry and Isabel joins him out at the lighthouse. She quickly fell in love with the rocky island and all of it's little inlets and coves. Beginning their family, Tom and Izz were so excited but then to be horribly disappointed when she miscarried the child. The babe was buried up on the high cliff and a rosemary bush was planted at the grave. But they didn't give up and soon Isabel was expecting again. It couldn't happen again but sadly it did. The second babe was buried near the first and another rosemary bush planted.They went on, Tom lighting the lamp at night and shutting it off in the morn and keeping the lighthouse and all of it's workings sparkling clean and shiny. Isabel gardened, kept a few chickens and kept busy with the house. Then they found that she was pregnant again. Happy and yet frightening news for Isabel mourned her babes so & wanted one so very badly. This little boy babe she carried for much longer but in the end he was stillborn. She raged at God and tore at her hair, she mourned so. Again the infant son was buried beside his two siblings and another rosemary bush was planted. They tried to go back to life as they knew it but this time it was so different and so much more difficult.Then one day when Isabel was up on the cliffs she thought she heard a baby crying, but surely not. It must be the wind or sea. But then she saw Tom come running out of the Lighthouse and heard him calling for her: A boat, Isabel, a boat! She ran down to him and he helped her as they climbed down the steep path to the sea where there was a small row boat. They could indeed hear a baby crying and could see a man lying in the boat. Tom checked the man for signs of life but he was quite dead. However tucked under the bow he could see a bit of color and there wrapped in a woman's cardigan was a little baby girl crying and very much alive. Isabel took the baby from Tom and it was love at first sight. Tom needed to report the boat, dead man & baby but Izz begged him to wait until morning. His heart sank but he felt so horribly sad for his wife, having just lost their third child two weeks prior, that he gave in. By the next morning she had convinced him that they should bury the man and keep the baby. Obviously the mother had fallen overboard and drowned beings the baby was wrapper in her sweater.No one would know because the supply boat hadn't been since she had lost this last little one.I found this to be an excellent story. I highly recommend it and I rated it 4 1/2 stars.

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