Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans
By M.L. Stedman
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781451681734, July 2012, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

An impossible situation set in a beautiful and captivating setting. A story of love and loss. It left me breathless.

The Rest of It:

After four, very long years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia a different man. After what he’s seen, what he needs is a total break from reality and he finds it in a position as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. For a while it’s just him and the lighthouse and he likes it that way. But after being ashore only a few times and his only contact being the supply boat that comes every six months, he begins to wonder what it would be like to share his life with someone else.

Isabel is a bold, adventurous young woman and after a few chance encounters with Tom, it’s clear to both of them that there is more than just a friendship there. But what concerns Tom is life on the island itself. Will Isabel be able to adapt to the harsh weather? Will she be able to deal with the isolation? But she assures Tom that they will be happy, and they are but after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, Isabel’s view of the island shifts. What was once such a happy place, is now a stark reminder of their loneliness.

When a boat washes ashore with a baby inside of it, it’s clear that the events of that day will forever leave their mark.

This was an amazing read for so many reasons that I have to list them out:

  • The setting. Stark, yet beautiful. Stedman did an amazing job at putting me right on the island. 
  • Tom and Isabel are so likable that when their choices cause them to go the other way, somehow I was okay with it even though I knew in my heart that such a decision would do them in.
  • With each chapter, I continued to question what was right and wrong.  I don’t think I ever stopped doing that even when I turned the last page. I so wanted to discuss this with a book club because there is just so much to discuss.
  • The other characters all play significant roles in the decisions that are made and I loved that. Everyone had a purpose and there were times where it truly felt like a community even though it was a community struggling to do the right thing.
  • Not once did I ever question the possibility of such a thing happening. The isolation of the island made it possible and in that sense, played a critical role.
  • Once the story gets going I could not put it down. I needed to know about these people and what was going to happen to them.
  • Tom. God love him. Such a tortured soul. I wanted to scoop that man up and give him a hug.

Honestly, I could go on and on. The Light Between Oceans had me asking myself what I’d do in a similar situation and although putting yourself under a microscope for that kind of scrutiny is uncomfortable, it was also enlightening. How far will a person go to be happy? How does love change that? Apparently, quite a bit.

Loved this one. I wish everyone could stop what they are doing and read it right now. It’s that good.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Library Thing.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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43 thoughts on “Review: The Light Between Oceans”

  1. Wow! You make me want to call in sick at work, just so I can download this book and spend the day reading it. Hmmm. Not a bad idea ;) I’m definitely going to be reading this one – its obvious you loved it, which means it is going to be a great read and I can’t wait!

  2. I didn’t read this – you know I like to go in blind and will be reading this one very soon. Just stopped by to say, “PRETTY SPOON!” :D

  3. Yay! I have this one, and since you loved it so much, I am going to make an effort to read it soon. I think it’s kind of ridiculous how many books I actually own, and haven’t read yet, so I am trying to read from my own shelves this year, and this is the perfect place for me to start. Excellent review today! All your bullet points convinced me that this one is for me too!

    1. And I don’t think you have to have a kid to get it either. Anyone who has lost anything or anyone close to them will be able to relate on some level.

  4. Our book club read this (and OMG how much there is to discuss!), and we all felt it got to a very slow start. But once the rubber meets the road so to speak, it was hard to stop reading. Such a blurry line between right and wrong here, but I do admit that I did not particularly like Isabel. I totally “got” where she was coming from, but I really resented the position she put Tom in, because I loved him.

    1. I get what you mean. There were times where I just didn’t feel Isabel knew how much Tom had swallowed for her happiness. Or that she had any idea how tortured he was over the whole thing. But that’s what happens when you are overcome with grief. You begin to rationalize it out so although I had little patience for the decision, I could see how she got there in her head.

  5. Glad you loved this one Ti. It would be hard for me to understand why anyone might not like it. Truly well done. Loved reading your thoughts.

  6. I loved your review and am glad you loved this! You know, I never even considered this as a book club read but you are so right… it would make for great discussion. It was definitely very easy to relate to and like Tom and Isabel.

    1. I thought Hannah was an interesting character too. It surprised me how much I disliked her when she first came into the picture. Surprised me that I’d feel that way about the poor woman! But that is just atestamentto how much I liked Tom.

  7. I have come so close to buying this 10,000 times. I don’t know what keeps stopping me, since I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

    1. I’ll tell you why it took me so long to read it. I saw a lighthouse on the cover and assumed ML STEDMAN was a MAN and figured it would be heavy on coordinates, ocean lore and all that. There was some of that, but the author is a woman.

  8. I have been wanting to read this one for a while – well actually I want to listen to it. Now after knowing how much you loved it I really want to read it.

    1. Exactly! And the fact that what I felt was wrong, and knew was wrong, somehow felt right. The ability for the author to manipulate emotions without be obvious. I didn’t even realize what I was feeling until Hannah showed up.

  9. You make me want to drop everything and read this book right now! Darn reading commitments. Soon though. I want to read this one soon. Before everyone forgets and I have no one to talk to about it.

  10. This was an amazing read for me too. I never once doubted that this story could actually happen. I think I would’ve done close to the same thing but in the end would’ve had to come clean in order to keep the demons away in my dreams. Your review was lovely!

  11. I just finished this book this morning. I get up early and read before the kids get up, and well, I couldn’t stop, and I think they were a little concerned because of the crying. Love your review!

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