The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

Audio Book (CD) | July 31, 2012

byM.L. StedmanRead byNoah Taylor

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The years-long New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

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.

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The years-long New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine).After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the l...

ML Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. This is her first novel.

other books by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
The Light Between Oceans: A Novel

Paperback|Mar 5 2013

$19.59 online$22.00list price(save 10%)
Une vie entre deux océans
Une vie entre deux océans

Paperback|Jan 15 2014


A luz entre os oceanos
A luz entre os oceanos

Kobo ebook|Jul 1 2013


see all books by M.L. Stedman
Format:Audio Book (CD)Dimensions:5.75 × 5.06 × 1 inPublished:July 31, 2012Publisher:Simon & Schuster AudioLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442350296

ISBN - 13:9781442350298

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Customer Reviews of The Light Between Oceans: A Novel


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Slow Pace Like others have mentioned the story unfolds at a slow pace. The psychology around what people are willing to do for love and the going ons of a small town are interesting. However, I found myself rushing to just see how it would end as the story started to become repetitive with lack of action.
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Emotions This story was gripping; and definitely played on the heartstrings for a number of different characters. This story also left me frustrated at some points due to the actions of some. In the end, I couldn’t quite get over those frustrations.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I liked this story and found it enjoyable. It made me wonder what I would do in that situation. Not the greatest book ever, but good!
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read! Really beautiful, sad book. Can't wait to see the movie!
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from sooo sad but sooo good
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Slow and predictable This book was slow and predictable. I felt like I had read 60 pages without much happening. I did not find the characters to be likeable or engaging, which was especially disappointing because I knew how it would end after the initial set-up. Maybe it will translate better to the screen? #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from devastating This book is haunting. I really was devastated by the love that endured between the two characters. What would you have done??
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Predictable Ending Although the ending was predicting, I enjoyed following their characters as they wrestled with their emotions and morals. I do not agree with many of the decisions the characters made, but it was interesting to see where their initial attitudes and actions would lead them.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! I enjoyed this one. I really felt for the wife character in the story. I haven't seen the movie yet but I don't think it can come close to how much I enjoyed this book. Movies are never as good as their books!
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking This was an enjoyable book - although quite heartbreaking by the end of it. It tells a unique story that allows for discussions with others afterwards as to what you would do in the main couple's situation. With that said, this can be a divisive book if you do not empathize with the main characters' actions - but for most, including myself, it is a good read.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from So mad! I so wanted to enjoy this book, but found that I was angry the entire time i was reading it. poor choices all around Ugh
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tough read Tough read because of the decisions made and consequences. Was slow moving and at times lost interest.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hard Choices I read this because the movie was being released this year and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. This is a very sad, yet wonderful novel about the choices we make and how it impacts others. The pain these characters felt was almost unbearable at times, but it shows that the "right" decision may not be easiest, but in order to move forward, the only option for everyone.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Started off slow but turned into a heartbreaking but good read. Wow! This book started off really slow and I was close to putting it down without planning to finish it but I am so, so, so glad that I did not give up on this wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking story. The predicament of this story and the lives it affects is massively tragic and highly unfortunate and that is an understatement in my eyes. All the people that it affects are good and innocent and yet they are forced to make such hard and devastating decisions and live in such suffering. It's an intriguing and heartbreaking insight into our decisions, how mysterious and seemingly unforgiving life can be, and how those decisions affect other people; other good people. It is one of those stories involving a situation where if I or someone I knew were in it in any of these characters' positions, I wouldn't know what to do. At all. I felt for all of the characters and wondered what the ending to this book could possibly be as I did not see a happy ending for all of them no matter what way it turned out. My personal opinion on how it ended is a bit uncertain; I think I'm leaning towards bitter sweet. It didn't make me angry but it did make my heart clench with such sadness.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting #plumreview The characters were interesting and came together in different ways. Unique story.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking, yet beautful I bought this book thinking I could save some money over having to buy a ticket to the movie. Well, now I'm spending money on the ticket because I loved this book! While slow to start, I really became involved with the characters and their hardships. It has been a long while since a book made me feel the emotions I felt while reading this.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow to start Almost gave up on this book. It was very slow to start and a bit boring but stuck with it and it turned around just about 1/4 way through. Good story overall. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not bad for a Romance It was hard to get into and it took too long to move onto the next story. The story is quite nice, the setting descriptions could have been better.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different This book was in my opinion a little hard to start up, I didn't find much action at the beginning. But once the story line picked up, it was hard not to know what would happen. Great way to see the 2 different perspective!
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sad and Beautiful I was not sure I was going to like this book, its not my usual type of read. But was definitely drawn in by the story, the characters and the choices they made. Very touching, beautiful story.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking I loved this book. It was chosen as a read for my book club, otherwise I'm not sure if I would have picked it up. I felt for the characters and felt how torn they were.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from dont understand the hype. Purchased this book as everyone seemed to be talking about how good it was. The book based on the plot had the ability to be a fantastic read. The book had points where it dragged and dragged. One of the main characters was annoying, and so incredibly selfish i found it very difficult to like her. Her husband didn't have a back bone for most of the book, which i also found to be extremely frustrating. I am glad i pushed through and read the entire book, but its far from my favourite book. I would recommend this book to a friend with hesitation.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from In the minority I know the majority of people loved this book but I can't quite bring myself to feel the same way. While I agree that you really do feel what the characters are going through, I did not find myself liking them. What they did was wrong. Plain and simple. I recognize that we are supposed to try and understand it from their perspective, and I do get that, but even still....I could not justify their actions. The book is very well written, which definitely helps in feeling the emotions and pain the characters are experiencing.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Devastating and beautiful This is the terrible, beautiful, redemptive story about Tom and Isabel, who live on Janus Island off the coast of Australia. They've recently married while Tom, who is experiencing what might now be considered PTSD after WWI, was on shore leave. Until a baby and a dead man wash up on their beach in a small boat, Isabel assumed her opportunity to have a child was over. That's where their story takes off. Not a single character in this story is unlikeable, despite the heart-wrenching choices that are made, the lies, the desperation. This is written so convincingly that it sucks you into the moral quandaries of this book to ask yourself if what is happening is really so bad. This novel has a satisfying end but I defy you to get through it without a single tear dropped! A definite read, and should be done before watching the movie.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read Keeps ya thinking and following the story. And you see the perspective and pain for both mothers
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very moving book about choices we make and how they affect others... This book is lovely. I felt transported by the writing and was quickly immersed in the moral dilemma that is central to the story. I cried through the last chapters and it's been a while since I've been so moved by a novel. I hope the movie adaptation does the novel justice
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Light Between Oceans The book starts off a little slow, but then picks up towards the middle. It was a beautiful story and actually made me cry a little. I really loved this book.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Beautiful Story One of the best books I've ever read, it was hard to put down. I was loaned a copy of this book having never heard of it, and was blown away by the story and the characters. Absolutely loved it. I've recommended this book to all my family and friends - heartbreaking, breathtaking, just a really good read. I strongly recommend.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Heartbreaking. Brilliant. Undoubtedly the best book I've read in a very long time.
Date published: 2016-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In love!!! I wasn't to sure what to expect when I read the cover but thought I would give it a try before the movie came out. I ended up falling in love with this book and the characters. Stedman created a love story between parents and a child and how adopting can have the same affect as having your own child. This was not just the typical romance between a couple but so much more.
Date published: 2016-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!! A friend loaned me her copy of "The Light Between Oceans". This was a truly, truly wonderful story. In my experience, the movies usually are a disappointment and I can't bear to have my memory of the story besmirched. Awesome book!
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS BOOK I had to push through the first few chapters but once the storyline picked up I just couldn't put the book down! The narration really puts you in each of the characters shoes and you get a real good sense of what each character is feeling! A great read for those who like tear-jerker plots! I've been recommending it to everyone!
Date published: 2016-08-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh Moved to slowly for my liking. Actually gave up reading it.
Date published: 2016-08-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth it A very enjoyable book.
Date published: 2016-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! I enjoyed reading this story. For the people who like to compare books with movies can do so this September when the movie comes out.
Date published: 2016-07-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from made me feel as though I was right there in Australia After witnessing the autrocities of WWI, Tom Sherbourne seeks the solace of running a remote light house offshore of southwest shore of Australia. During his shore visits he meets and falls in love with Isabel. After courting, they settle into married life. Their domestic bliss is challenged by two miscarriages followed by a still birth. Life reaches a critical point when a rowboat reaches their shore with a tiny baby crying out for care. Do they seize this opportunity to have the family they have longed for. I loved this book. It explored a lifestyle I can never lead, living on a remote island with no social contact for six months at a time. It takes a unique person to want to live this life. I enjoyed learning of Tom's story and why he felt compelled to live on the island. I was less entranced with Isabel, though she was a woman in love who would follow her man anywhere specially if it was far from her parents home. It lead me to several times when I had to ask myself what would I have done were I in their situation. I listened to the audiobook as read by Noah Taylor. 10 hours 22 minutes unabridged. Mr. Taylor's accent made me feel as though I really was in Australia, not sitting in my living room in Canada. He easily met the challenge of voicing the rough sailors and the more refined and educated city people.
Date published: 2016-06-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good book. bad condition. Book was decent but unfortunately i bought this online and a page was ripped and by the time I got to read it I could no longer return it unfortunately.
Date published: 2016-05-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring I hated this book
Date published: 2016-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful heartbreaking book I loved this book! I felt so much compassion for Isabel & Tom. This book really makes you think about how your actions affect others And it makes you put yourself in the shoes of others, think about how they feel. It also makes you think about the choices you make & why you make them. It was so beautifully written. Can't wait for more from M.L. Stedman. I'm also excited for the movie!
Date published: 2016-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from heartbreaking This novel was well written and the story is very compelling. It also pulls on the heart strings for women who can't have children and their pain. There is no neat an tidy solution for this story. It was a tragic novel but one that was a pleasure to read and be a part of feeling the characters sadness.
Date published: 2016-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended Excellent novel; well written; couldn't stop reading it
Date published: 2016-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Really enjoyed this book and it's very thought provoking.
Date published: 2015-10-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing read Very well written and loved the internal struggles of the main characters. Begs the question, what would you do?
Date published: 2015-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Enjoyable Book I really enjoyed this book, the story was compelling and really caught me up in their lives.
Date published: 2015-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, thought-provoking read Once you get through the first few chapters, which are filled with very important context and background to the overall story, the book is impossible to put down. A truly heart-wrenching story that blurs the line of what society may see as "right" and "wrong". An amazing book! Would be an excellent read for a book club because of the differences in opinion that I am sure would emerge as to you read and relate to certain characters.
Date published: 2015-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing The first couple of chapters were a little slow, but then it really picked up. It was an incredible read. I even cried toward the end.
Date published: 2014-12-20
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 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 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

Extra Content

Read from the Book

CHAPTER 1 16th December 1918 Yes, I realize that,” Tom Sherbourne said. He was sitting in a spartan room, barely cooler than the sultry day outside. The Sydney summer rain pelted the window, and sent the people on the pavement scurrying for shelter. “I mean very tough.” The man across the desk leaned forward for emphasis. “It’s no picnic. Not that Byron Bay’s the worst posting on the Lights, but I want to make sure you know what you’re in for.” He tamped down the tobacco with his thumb and lit his pipe. Tom’s letter of application had told the same story as many a fellow’s around that time: born 28 September 1893; war spent in the Army; experience with the International Code and Morse; physically fit and well; honorable discharge. The rules stipulated that preference should be given to ex-servicemen. “It can’t—” Tom stopped, and began again. “All due respect, Mr. Coughlan, it’s not likely to be tougher than the Western Front.” The man looked again at the details on the discharge papers, then at Tom, searching for something in his eyes, in his face. “No, son. You’re probably right on that score.” He rattled off some rules: “You pay your own passage to every posting. You’re relief, so you don’t get holidays. Permanent staff get a month’s leave at the end of each three-year contract.” He took up his fat pen and signed the form in front of him. As he rolled the stamp back and forth across the inkpad he said, “Welcome”—he thumped it down in three places on the paper—“to the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service.” On the form, “16th December 1918” glistened in wet ink. The six months’ relief posting at Byron Bay, up on the New South Wales coast, with two other keepers and their families, taught Tom the basics of life on the Lights. He followed that with a stint down on Maatsuyker, the wild island south of Tasmania where it rained most days of the year and the chickens blew into the sea during storms. On the Lights, Tom Sherbourne has plenty of time to think about the war. About the faces, the voices of the blokes who had stood beside him, who saved his life one way or another; the ones whose dying words he heard, and those whose muttered jumbles he couldn’t make out, but who he nodded to anyway. Tom isn’t one of the men whose legs trailed by a hank of sinews, or whose guts cascaded from their casing like slithering eels. Nor were his lungs turned to glue or his brains to stodge by the gas. But he’s scarred all the same, having to live in the same skin as the man who did the things that needed to be done back then. He carries that other shadow, which is cast inward. He tries not to dwell on it: he’s seen plenty of men turned worse than useless that way. So he gets on with life around the edges of this thing he’s got no name for. When he dreams about those years, the Tom who is experiencing them, the Tom who is there with blood on his hands, is a boy of eight or so. It’s this small boy who’s up against blokes with guns and bayonets, and he’s worried because his school socks have slipped down and he can’t hitch them up because he’ll have to drop his gun to do it, and he’s barely big enough even to hold that. And he can’t find his mother anywhere. Then he wakes and he’s in a place where there’s just wind and waves and light, and the intricate machinery that keeps the flame burning and the lantern turning. Always turning, always looking over its shoulder. If he can only get far enough away—from people, from memory—time will do its job. 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 in question was recently deceased. Considerable correspondence on the subject was generated in triplicate between Fremantle and Melbourne, with the Deputy Director in Fremantle putting the case for Docherty and his years of excellent service, to a Head Office concerned strictly with efficiency and cost and obeying the rules. A compromise was reached by which a temporary keeper would be engaged while Docherty was given six months’ medical leave. “We wouldn’t normally send a single man to Janus—it’s pretty remote and a wife and family can be a great practical help, not just a comfort,” the District Officer had said to Tom. “But seeing it’s only temporary… You’ll leave for Partageuse in two days,” he said, and signed him up for six months. There wasn’t much to organize. No one to farewell. Two days later, Tom walked up the gangplank of the boat, armed with a kit bag and not much else. The SS Prometheus worked its way along the southern shores of Australia, stopping at various ports on its run between Sydney and Perth. The few cabins reserved for first-class passengers were on the upper deck, toward the bow. In third class, Tom shared a cabin with an elderly sailor. “Been making this trip for fifty years—they wouldn’t have the cheek to ask me to pay. Bad luck, you know,” the man had said cheerfully, then returned his attention to the large bottle of over-proof rum that kept him occupied. To escape the alcohol fumes, Tom took to walking the deck during the day. Of an evening there’d usually be a card game belowdecks. You could still tell at a glance who’d been over there and who’d sat the war out at home. You could smell it on a man. Each tended to keep to his own kind. Being in the bowels of the vessel brought back memories of the troopships that took them first to the Middle East, and later to France. Within moments of arriving on board, they’d deduced, almost by an animal sense, who was an officer, who was lower ranks; where they’d been. Just like on the troopships, the focus was on finding a bit of sport to liven up the journey. The game settled on was familiar enough: first one to score a souvenir off a first-class passenger was the winner. Not just any souvenir, though. The designated article was a pair of ladies’ drawers. “Prize money’s doubled if she’s wearing them at the time.” The ringleader, a man by the name of McGowan, with a mustache, and fingers yellowed from his Woodbines, said he’d been chatting to one of the stewards about the passenger list: the choice was limited. There were ten cabins in all. A lawyer and his wife—best give them a wide berth; some elderly couples, a pair of old spinsters (promising), but best of all, some toff’s daughter traveling on her own. “I reckon we can climb up the side and in through her window,” he announced. “Who’s with me?” The danger of the enterprise didn’t surprise Tom. He’d heard dozens of such tales since he got back. Men who’d taken to risking their lives on a whim—treating the boom gates at level crossings as a gallop jump; swimming into rips to see if they could get out. So many men who had dodged death over there now seemed addicted to its lure. Still, this lot were free agents now. Probably just full of talk. The following night, when the nightmares were worse than usual, Tom decided to escape them by walking the decks. It was two a.m. He was free to wander wherever he wanted at that hour, so he paced methodically, watching the moonlight leave its wake on the water. He climbed to the upper deck, gripping the stair rail to counter the gentle rolling, and stood a moment at the top, taking in the freshness of the breeze and the steadiness of the stars that showered the night. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a glimmer come on in one of the cabins. Even first-class passengers had trouble sleeping sometimes, he mused. Then, some sixth sense awoke in him—that familiar, indefinable instinct for trouble. He moved silently toward the cabin, and looked in through the window. In the dim light, he saw a woman flat against the wall, pinned there even though the man before her wasn’t touching her. He was an inch away from her face, with a leer Tom had seen too often. He recognized the man from belowdecks, and remembered the prize. Bloody idiots. He tried the door, and it opened. “Leave her alone,” he said as he stepped into the cabin. He spoke calmly, but left no room for debate. The man spun around to see who it was, and grinned when he recognized Tom. “Christ! Thought you were a steward! You can give me a hand, I was just—” “I said leave her alone! Clear out. Now.” “But I haven’t finished. I was just going to make her day.” He reeked of drink and stale tobacco. Tom put a hand on his shoulder, with a grip so hard that the man cried out. He was a good six inches shorter than Tom, but tried to take a swing at him all the same. Tom seized his wrist and twisted it. “Name and rank!” “McKenzie. Private. 3277.” The unrequested serial number followed like a reflex. “Private, you’ll apologize to this young lady and you’ll get back to your bunk and you won’t show your face on deck until we berth, you understand me?” “Yes, sir!” He turned to the woman. “Beg your pardon, Miss. Didn’t mean any harm.” Still terrified, the woman gave the slightest nod. “Now, out!” Tom said, and the man, deflated by sudden sobriety, shuffled from the cabin. “You all right?” Tom asked the woman. “I—I think so.” “Did he hurt you?” “He didn’t…”—she was saying it to herself as much as to him—“he didn’t actually touch me.” He took in the woman’s face—her gray eyes seemed calmer now. Her dark hair was loose, in waves down to her arms, and her fists still gathered her nightgown to her neck. Tom reached for her dressing gown from a hook on the wall and draped it over her shoulders. “Thank you,” she said. “Must have got an awful fright. I’m afraid some of us aren’t used to civilized company these days.” She didn’t speak. “You won’t get any more trouble from him.” He righted a chair that had been overturned in the encounter. “Up to you whether you report him, Miss. I’d say he’s not the full quid now.” Her eyes asked a question. “Being over there changes a man. Right and wrong don’t look so different any more to some.” He turned to go, but put his head back through the doorway. “You’ve got every right to have him up on charges if you want. But I reckon he’s probably got enough troubles. Like I said—up to you,” and he disappeared through the door.

Editorial Reviews

“As time passes the harder the decision becomes to undo and the more towering is its impact. This is the story of its terrible consequences. But it is also a description of the extraordinary, sustaining power of a marriage to bind two people together in love, through the most emotionally harrowing circumstances.”—Victoria Moore, The Daily Mail