The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

Book - 2016
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"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."--Page 4 of cover
Publisher: New York :, Pocket Books,, 2016.
Edition: First Pocket Books paperback edition.
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9781501127977
1501127977
Branch Call Number: FICTION Stedman M.L.
Characteristics: 409 pages ;,19 cm

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From Library Staff

An Australian work about a lighthouse keeper and his wife...and the baby they find abandoned in a storm-tossed sea.


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g
goddessbeth
Feb 01, 2019

This is a lovely historical fiction heartbreak of a novel, set in Western Australia in the few decades following WWI. It's well-written, with a slow, contemplative pace and plenty of tugs on the heartstrings. The author clearly did their research regarding Australia's lighthouses, and what life in a small coastal town in that era must have been like. I enjoyed it, and only removed a star because while the MC (Tom) is really well-rounded, I felt like Isabel only became a character with autonomy as a reaction to the existence of Lucy, which meant that she never felt like a real character to me. And maybe that was the point (that Isabel had character and life beneath the surface only as a mother), but I would've liked to have connected more to her.

w
wyenotgo
Jan 30, 2019

I am somewhat conflicted in my response to this book. I should perhaps deal first with what it was that troubled me about it. First, it's manipulative of the reader's emotions and for me, that's difficult to forgive. Second, the plot is almost entirely predictable. Third (and perhaps less troubling) is that the thing is a bare-faced morality play, which may not sit well with many readers. A morality play demands a light touch, and here it's done in a manipulative fashion.
But in most other respects, it's a very well written book, particularly so when we consider that this is Ms. Stedman's first published novel. The writing is straightforward and unadorned but entirely appropriate to the subject matter, setting and characters. In places, her style reminded me of that of Kent Haruf (and in my book, that's high praise). The setting (West Australia), era (post WW One) and vernacular (Aussie but never overdone) are all bang-on. Finally, regarding the plot: I believe most readers will either love it or hate it (mostly for the reasons stated above). I give Ms. Stedman credit for having managed to place her main protagonists (in both families) in a situation where there is no acceptable solution; this cannot possibly end well. As to how she resolves it? I will say no more; let every reader decide for themselves whether she has been successful.

s
Sylviaweist
Jan 23, 2019

This is a From Sister book I have. Story of a lighthouse-keeper w/wife on a remote island lighthouse between Australia's South Sea and the Indian Ocean. A shipwrecked dead man and live baby wash ashore, leaving the man to grapple with his sense of duty and doing the right thing, all while doing the right thing for his wife who wants to keep the baby. Surprisingly? shit happens!

k
kwsmith
Dec 23, 2018

Set on the lonely coast of Australia just after the end of the first World War, this is a character driven novel about the ethics of love. Stedman's writing is solid, but I completely hated her characters, and the plot wasn't deep enough to hold my interest. I won't include any spoilers, but there's one central plot device in this book and it gets very old after a few hundred pages. I can't shake the feeling that this book would have made a great short story.

d
DearJournal
Nov 18, 2018

This book starts out slowly but with purpose like a train now leaving the station. At the end of the book you are not the same person that began the book. It stimulate your thought process; it is impossible to be a passive reader. The story grabs you and draws you in..tightly and securely. It will make you ponder questions. It will teach you some life lessons. I stayed up way pass my usual bedtime because by the time I had read half the book I couldn't put it down because I wanted to know how will this end. This book is a good read.

d
Dream24
Aug 30, 2018

I picked this book up with high hopes, only to feel a little let down.

There is quite the dilemma here. Tom and Isabel have had like 3 miscarriages and 1 stillbirth (something like that). One day a row boat drifts to Janus carrying a dead man and a baby girl, so what do they do? Well Isabel is convinced it is a sign from God, and they must keep the baby girl (named Lucy). However.... when they return to civilization with young Lucy, they found out that Lucy might actually be Grace, the missing daughter of Hannah (a local resident who lost her husband and baby girl a few short years ago to an unknown fate). And what does Isabel do? She thinks it is best to keep things a secret so no one else gets hurt and the deception to continue on the guilty conscious of Tom.

On Janus, things are simple and filled with daily rituals. Is what Isabel and Tom did right? That is very conflicting. Yes Isabel may have suffered continued heartache over the children she could never have, but to have put her family and Hannah's family through all this horrible thing may not have seemed like the best choice. But then again with a mother so desperate for a baby/child to love, who was Tom to deny her that.

When the deception finally unravels, the story got a little boring and just dragged on and on. Poor little Lucy Grace is caught between the two worlds (her life on Janus and her original life with Hannah), with no idea what is going on and how to handle the sudden shock and change.

In all honesty, I could not and gave up trying to understand and relate to Isabel. She seems so selfish and depressed. Yes she has issues, but clearly forcing Tom to help her keep the secret is not a good way to deal with this issue. Tom is a good guy, he tries so hard to make things right now that the war is over, but he is too much of a doormat when going up against Isabel.

The ending. Meh. I could honestly take it or leave it, I really didn't care what happened to them in the end

o
orange_lobster_23
Apr 18, 2018

Newly-wed WWII veteran Tom Sherburne takes the position of lighthouse keeper on a remote coastal Australian island with his wife in order to regain a sense of peace and stability.
After wife Isabel suffers two miscarriages and a still-birth; the couple's life together is set in turmoil as Isabel discovers a yawl containing a dead man and a crying infant washed on shore after a gale. Moral and ethical decisions, individually, and as a couple, confront them as a decision is made to keep the baby as their own. They are faced with the implications of their choices upon returning to the main-land to visit family two years later and coming into contact with the infant's biological mother. This is a heart-breaking, soul-searching read in which the reader empathizes with all the main characters.

s
smiliesar
Nov 20, 2017

loved the beginning of this book but it was such a frustrating ending and so much heartache I wish I's never read it

d
dlh1
Oct 25, 2017

I found this book to be very thought provoking, regarding the choices we make in life. Sometimes our instincts lead us off the path of what is "right". The author chose to let the characters face the consequences and grow (from not keeping the secret any longer). Too bad that most people in real life wouldn't chose this path willingly.

k
kathybibus
Sep 11, 2017

My heart hurt and was joyful after reading this book. It was brilliant.

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eagle66
Dec 18, 2018

A heart wrenching story of love, loss and life

2
21221010665351
Jun 14, 2017

vortex,

y
yehafr
Aug 13, 2016

"She's a beauty all right" said Tom, taking in the giant lens, far taller than himself, atop the rotating pedestal: a palace of prisms like a beehive made from glass. It was the very heart of Janus, all light and clarity and silence."

b
becker
Nov 03, 2012

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.”

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LauraSteinert
Dec 03, 2015

LauraSteinert thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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