The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans – The years-long New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Best Historical Novel that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine)—soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks starring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
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.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom–whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I–begins to waver. M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters and gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light Between Oceans. –Malissa Kent –This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
“Irresistible…seductive…a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page.”—Sara Nelson, O, the Oprah magazine
“An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them.”—Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief
“Haunting…Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.”—Booklist, starred review
“[Stedman sets] the stage beautifully to allow for a heart-wrenching moral dilemma to play out… Most impressive is the subtle yet profound maturation of Isabel and Tom as characters.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The miraculous arrival of a child in the life of a barren couple delivers profound love but also the seeds of destruction. Moral dilemmas don’t come more exquisite than the one around which Australian novelist Stedman constructs her debut.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This heartbreaking debut from M L Stedman is a gem of a book that you’ll have trouble putting down”—Good Housekeeping
“Lyrical…Stedman’s debut signals a career certain to deliver future treasures.” (People)
“A beautifully delineated tale of love and loss, right and wrong, and what we will do for the happiness of those most dear.” (Tova Beiser The Boston Globe)
“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…the relationship between Tom and Isabel, in particular, is beautifully drawn.” (Elysa Gardner USA Today)
Told with the authoritative simplicity of a fable…Stedman’s intricate descriptions of the craggy Australian coastline and her easy mastery of an old-time provincial vernacular are engrossing. As the couple at the lighthouse are drawn into and increasingly tragic set of consequences, these remote, strange lives are rendered immediate and familiar.” (The New Yorker)
Review by By Jean Brandt
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“The Light Between Oceans” is not an easy book to review….the story is unique and one wouldn’t want to give away any part of the plot line. M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia, her discriptions of the coast of Australia are beautifully rendered. The beginning of the book takes place on an island off of the coast of mainland Australia. Stedman does an excellent job of setting us in a remote spot. She also draws her characters so well that one finds themselves thinking of them between readings. They and their problems become real…one wants to advise them as to what to do, or warn them of things they shouldn’t. This book is engrossing and with it’s many plot twists and turns it is always entertaining…doesn’t bog down or become predictable. Some of the passages are so profound that I found myself rereading them….. As stated by other reviewers, this is not a “happy” story. But it is a true to life story. The characters are flawed in ways that we all could possibly be …..M. L. Stedman…knows how to render time and place, people and situations with great skill. This is a first novel and I would not hesitate to read the next by this author….simply because I thought this was an excellent effort….we will be reading this for one of my reading groups. I have also recommended it to many of my fellow readers already. I know they will not be disappointed.
Part geography lesson, part historical novel, a bit of a mystery and above all a story of love…love of all types this book has been a joy to read. Greatful for the chance to do so. I am a fan. Read this story…..it is so well crafted, it will not disappoint.