The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

by M.L. Stedman

Scribner | March 5, 2013 | Trade Paperback

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel is rated 4.4783 out of 5 by 23.
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, 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, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and 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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.8 in

Published: March 5, 2013

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1476738084

ISBN - 13: 9781476738086

Found in: Fiction and Literature
This exquisitely written debut novel sweeps you into the lives of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne. After WWI, Tom returns to Australia very much alone and deeply marked by what he has seen and done. It comes as a shock when the beautiful Isabel finds him attractive. A proper courtship ensues and before long it is Isabel herself who boldly declares her love for Tom. She willingly leaves her comfortable life to join him on the remote island of Janus Rock in Western Australia where he takes up the post of lighthouse keeper. Her only wish — and his too — is to have lots of children with whom to share their love. But life does not unfold as it should. Isabel experiences a series of miscarriages and most cruelly — a full-term stillborn. She is devastated and inconsolable. And then, a small miracle: a half-destroyed boat is washed ashore carrying a dead man and a softly crying infant. Tom, ever the serious and honorable professional, wants to immediately report the shipwreck but Isabel convinces him that this was meant to be — that likely the baby's mother has drowned and with the father dead, the baby is truly an orphan. Reluctantly Tom acquiesces and they declare to their friends and family back home that finally they have borne a child. Baby Lucy lights up their world and they shower her with the love they so longed to give. And then… the lie of Lucy's birth begins to unravel and Isabel and Tom are forced to deal with moral choices that no parent should ever have to make. This beautiful debut novel by M.L. Stedman will touch your heart deeply. It will move you to tears and it will keep you riveted from first page to the last.

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from poignant This is the kind of book you want to find on a holiday. The characters are so well defined that you sympathize with all of them.
Date published: 2014-08-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A quick and interesting read. At first I found it hard to believe I would like this novel but once getting into it I found I had a hard time putting it down. As with many novels I end up enjoying the overall scenery and history of it swept me away. In addition to the scenery and culture though I found I became emotionally linked to the characters. I found myself struggling between Isabel's wants and needs and tom's, which at times seemed in line and at others, totally at odds. It was a slow start for me but once I got a couple of chapters in I couldn't set it down.
Date published: 2014-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent novel What a great gift author ML Stedman has given to readers all over the world with this contribution to English literature. The author's wisdom and emotional intelligence displayed in this novel are only paralleled by her unique ability to bring it to the page with such imagination and an inspired craft of words.  Stedman's literary artistry and her gift to create such vivid imagery with the printed word is truly remarkable.  It is an unforgettable reading experience.
Date published: 2013-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy reading and beautiful. Once you start, it is hard to put this book away.  You feel like Janus island cornered between two powerful oceans full of emotions.
Date published: 2013-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story! This book was great. Very visual and appealing. At times it could get slow, but none the less I would recommend it.
Date published: 2013-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from too much sad Had high hopes for this book, but honestly, just found the whole thing depressing. It's not that I "dislike" this story, but frig, can anything get any more sad? This story just broke my heart over and over. It was so frustrating! There was no light at the end of the tunnel EVER! I was relived that there was a conclusion, but even that was still frustrating. I don't know. I wouldn't say NOT to read this, but I wouldn't give it two thumbs up either.
Date published: 2013-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Light Between Oceans This was one of the best book I have read. A woman who desperately wants to raise kids get the opportunity of rescuing a baby at the ocean. She feels that it was Gods gift and enjoys her motherhood days. But to her dismay she finds that the baby's real mother is alive and struggles to accept that it is not her own child. The author deserves much praise for giving vivid descriptions. It was a poignant and compelling story to read.
Date published: 2013-06-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Light Between Oceans Character development is a strength of this book. When the characters in this book make decisions I know will lead to trouble, I understand exactly why, and I feel I would do the same in the same circumstances. Even when these characters work in harmful opposition to each other, I sympathize with each one in turn. Stedman's skill in character development make it easy to empathize with characters making terrible choices. Plot and pacing are strengths of this book. The first part of the novel moves at a leisurely pace suited to the setting. Stedman describes the isolated but idyllic life of light keepers on isolated Janus Rock with beautiful prose. Tom Sherbourne and his wife, Isabel, thrive together on the remote island, even as they suffer together through two miscarriages and a stillbirth. But when a boat washes up on the shore of Janus Rock carrying a dead man and a live baby, the tension rises, and the pace picks up. This is where all those terrible choices come in. As the actions of different characters ripple out to shipwreck the lives of other, it is hard to foresee a resolution. By the end, this book is riveting. Theme choice and developments are a strength of this book. Stedman explores several compelling themes: motherhood and the many different ways to be a mother; loss and the many different ways to lose a child,; and post-traumatic stress disorder and the many different ways to re-construct a life, or not, after trauma. All of these themes seize us in the solar plexus and take us on a heart-rending and inspiring emotional journey. This book has complex but believable characters, well-developed plot and pacing, and gripping themes. I recommend it.
Date published: 2013-05-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Moving! The author does a fantastic job of blurring the lines of morality in this tragic tale of two families struggling with loss and longing. A woman desperate to have a child rescues a baby lost at sea and suddenly realizes her dreams of motherhood. Years later when she learns the baby’s mother is alive, she is forced to make a gruelling decision. It will tug at your heart.
Date published: 2013-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't wait to find out what happened next! Three thumbs up for this book (yes, yes, I know this isn't physically possible). Picked this up because it is my book club's choice but found myself very quickly involved in not only the characters' lives but in the region of the world in which the book itself is set. From start to end, I found it a thought-provoking exercise to try to determine what I would do in similar circumstances. And as circumstances changed in the book, I continually found myself doing this same exercise with differing criteria. The characters were well drawn if sometimes painfully drawn and I find it completely impossible NOT to recommend this book to all my friends.
Date published: 2013-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Read I absolutely LOVED this book. It drew me in and I could not put it down. The storyline is captivating and thought provoking. Made me think of what I would do if I were put in Tom and Isabel's position. One of the best books I have read recently and I would highly recommend it! It is currently making the rounds at my office because I want everyone to read it!
Date published: 2013-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lucy full of Grace I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was for the most part sad, with some uplifting moments, a story of consequence and conscience, and I cried at the end. What more could you ask for?! This is 100% of what I have come to expect from "Heather's Picks" and I was not disappointed. Tom is a humble and fiercly loyal character; Isabel is at once sassy, strong and intensely protective yet vulnerable; and Hanna is both pitiful and heroic. But the "star" is Lucy, and she is a delight of a character, everyone's motivation, and a treasure. Beautifully written, this is a recommended read!
Date published: 2013-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Compelling This is a book about the tragedy of loss and how decisions you make can affect others in unimaginable ways. A lighthouse keeper and his wife find a baby in a lifeboat alongside a dead man. They have recently suffered through a third miscarriage and decide to keep the baby as their own, assuming the parents must both be dead. When they take shore leave 2 years later, they learn the truth about the situation and how their decision has affected so many lives. Not the best read this year, but compelling. I did not care for Isabel, but not being a mother myself, I find it difficult to put myself in her shoes.
Date published: 2013-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderful debut! The Light between Oceans, a debut novel by ML Stedman, takes a look at life in Australia after the First World War. Tom Sherbourne has returned from the Western Front, a shell of the man he once was. Trapped in his loneliness, he takes a position as a Lighthouse Keeper on a remote island called Janus Rock. As the sole inhabitant of the island, he receives seasonal visits from a cargo supply ship, and he travels to Australia’s coast – and to the world of other humans – once every few years. On one such journey, he meets Isabel. She is young and bold, and she decides she wants Tom. Isabel awakens life in Tom, and they quietly marry and return to Janus. But, isolation has its rewards and its greatest price. After three miscarriages, Isabel is desolate and stricken with grief. Until she hears a baby’s cry coming from the beaches below. Could loving a baby, who is not your own, cause any harm? Isabel and Tom will find out. This story touches on themes of love, betrayal, redemption, and sacrifice, and it is the perfect read for historical fiction lovers who like a bit of suspense. Readers who enjoy figuring out what they might do, and who have strong beliefs about what is right and what is wrong will feel Isabel and Tom’s plight.
Date published: 2013-01-10
Rated out of 5 by from Excellent book! Definitely one of the best books I've read in a long time. Could not put this one down. The story really draws you in and raises lots of interesting issues. The characters are excellently written. Would strongly recommend.
Date published: 2013-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended The Light Between Oceans is a romance in the truest sense of the word. It is also a novel about choices, loss, lonliness, fear, redemption and forgiveness. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a novel this much. I think it was the purity of the story that attracted me the most. The author doesn't stoop to sensationalism, sex or violence but rather writes a story that is intreguing enough by itself to keep the reader involved. That is the definition of a true story teller. The sweet romance between Tom and his Izzy is the stuff of legends. It is not a perfect love or a perfect relationship but it is real. From them we learn what loyalty in a marriage should look like. They stick together through devistating loss and one really, really bad choice that will haunt them and change the path of their lives forever. What really pulled this novel from four stars to five was the ending. I cried - and that rarely happens.
Date published: 2012-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful story, beautifully crafted I loved this book so much, I selected it for our January book club and we have almost 100 women in our club! The story is about what happens when good people make bad choices for the right reasons. The book takes place in Australia after WW1, the main character becomes a lighthouse keeper who needs a job after the war and wants to be alone to heal. I loved learning about running a lighthouse - the light metaphors throughout the book are dreamy. This is a novel that gets under your skin - I thought about the main characters for months after I read the book.
Date published: 2012-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful story I loved this book. Read it in one sitting. Brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Gave a copy to my mother.
Date published: 2012-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazingly great read! I loved this book and could not put it down. From the beginningI was entranced by Stedman's lyrical prose."The rain is falling more heavily, and in the distance, thunder grumbles at being left behind by the lightning". The characters are so real, their journey so tormented. They teach us that to live in yesterday or beyond today is to live a life unfullfilled.
Date published: 2012-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Storyline... I enjoyed this book. It was heartbreaking at times. My heart was torn between Hannah and Isabel and poor little Lucy. And ofcourse there is the betrayal between Isabel and Tom.....begs the question of what is right and wrong in a story like this. It's a very good book....enjoyed it very much!
Date published: 2012-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful, wonderful story! Excellent dilemma of life and death. Encourages us all to live in the moment. Loved the descriptions of life on Janus Island and the light house. Wonderful book and would recommend it to everyone to read.
Date published: 2012-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I purchased this book out of simple curiosity-After all, who would have enough words to describe life in a lighthouse, much less intrigue and suspense. I was hooked from the very first pages and I love the way the author takes us through the pages at the same rhythm as the waves of the ocean, sometimes soft and romantic and other times raging and destructive. His descriptions are so vivid and realistic, they reach deep in your own beliefs about life, caring and family values. I highly recommend it .
Date published: 2012-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! I have not read a book like this in ages. I loved all the characters and the theme of the story. You could not hate anyone in the book but you really felt bad for them. Iloved the way it ended, didn't expect it but I also didn't want it to end. Made me cry. Also made me think if i were in the posistion what would I do? I really recommend the book!
Date published: 2012-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "A wonderful debut novel." This exquisitely written debut novel sweeps you into the lives of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne. After WWI, Tom returns to Australia very much alone and deeply marked by what he has seen and done. It comes as a shock when the beautiful Isabel finds him attractive. A proper courtship ensues and before long it is Isabel herself who boldly declares her love for Tom. She willingly leaves her comfortable life to join him on the remote island of Janus Rock in Western Australia where he takes up the post of lighthouse keeper. Her only wish — and his too — is to have lots of children with whom to share their love. But life does not unfold as it should. Isabel experiences a series of miscarriages and most cruelly — a full-term stillborn. She is devastated and inconsolable. And then, a small miracle: a half-destroyed boat is washed ashore carrying a dead man and a softly crying infant. Tom, ever the serious and honorable professional, wants to immediately report the shipwreck but Isabel convinces him that this was meant to be — that likely the baby's mother has drowned and with the father dead, the baby is truly an orphan. Reluctantly Tom acquiesces and they declare to their friends and family back home that finally they have borne a child. Baby Lucy lights up their world and they shower her with the love they so longed to give. And then… the lie of Lucy's birth begins to unravel and Isabel and Tom are forced to deal with moral choices that no parent should ever have to make. This beautiful debut novel by M.L. Stedman will touch your heart deeply. It will move you to tears and it will keep you riveted from first page to the last.
Date published: 2012-08-29

– More About This Product –

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

by M.L. Stedman

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.8 in

Published: March 5, 2013

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1476738084

ISBN - 13: 9781476738086

Read from the Book

Thousands of miles away on the west coast, Janus Rock was the furthest place on the continent from Tom’s childhood home in Sydney. But Janus Light was the last sign of Australia he had seen as his troopship steamed for Egypt in 1915. The smell of the eucalypts had wafted for miles offshore from Albany, and when the scent faded away he was suddenly sick at the loss of something he didn’t know he could miss. Then, hours later, true and steady, the light, with its five-second flash, came into view—his homeland’s furthest reach—and its memory stayed with him through the years of hell that followed, like a farewell kiss. When, in June 1920, he got news of an urgent vacancy going on Janus, it was as though the light there were calling to him. Teetering on the edge of the continental shelf, Janus was not a popular posting. Though its Grade One hardship rating meant a slightly higher salary, the old hands said it wasn’t worth the money, which was meager all the same. The keeper Tom replaced on Janus was Trimble Docherty, who had caused a stir by reporting that his wife was signaling to passing ships by stringing up messages in the colored flags of the International Code. This was unsatisfactory to the authorities for two reasons: first, because the Deputy Director of Lighthouses had some years previously forbidden signaling by flags on Janus, as vessels put themselves at risk by sailing close enough to decipher them; and secondly, because the wife
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From the Publisher

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, 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, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and 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.

Editorial Reviews

“Sublimely written, poetic in its intensity and frailty…This is a simply beautiful story that deserves the praise and wide audience it’s receiving. A stunning debut from a new voice that I can’t wait to hear again.”
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