Friday, November 6, 2015

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I firmly believe that the goal of the FLICKS Book and Movie Club (aka Rogue) this year is to find books that make me dissolve into a puddle of tears.  I finished The Light Between Oceans in a puddle of tears late one night before bed.  My husband looked at me with confusion, but after years of seeing me in this state after reading a sad book, thought it was better to ask later.

Tom Sherbourne is a decorated WWI hero who has returned to Australia a man shaped by his experiences.  He becomes a lighthouse keeper.  After being assigned to a new position on the isolated island of Janus Rock, Tom meets two important people on his journey there. He rescues one young woman from a brutal attack, and then meets another unique and joyous woman feeding birds. The second woman he would meet again and would eventually become his wife, Isabel.  Together the two live on Janus Rock alone guarding the lighthouse with the only time away coming every three years.  Isabel longs for a baby, but after two miscarriages and a stillbirth, she has stopped being the joyous young bride.  She is a sad woman, until the day she hears a baby cry.  A boat has washed ashore holding only a baby and the body of a dead man.  Tom and Isabel make a series of decisions that will change their lives and the lives of the baby and her family forever.

I LOVED this book.  After finishing it, I’ve looked around online and have noticed that people seem to either love or hate this book.  The characters do make questionable decisions, but I liked that they were flawed, and the decisions that were made after having just lost a baby, made sense to me as a mother.  In fact I was sympathetic the most to the baby who grows up to be a young girl, Lucy, which is my daughter’s age.  I can’t say more without giving away the story, but I sympathized with all parties involved and thought the dynamic was interesting, and very, very sad.

I liked the back story of each of the main characters, in particular Tom.  His flashbacks to the dreadful war, and the sad upbringing he had make you really understand him behind his quiet and meticulous exterior.  I also loved all of the details of being a lighthouse keeper.  I love to visit lighthouses around here in the Great Lakes area and I have always found the stories of the lighthouse keeper and his family to be fascinating.

This book would be an excellent book to discuss at book club.  Sadly, it was the September pick and I was gone at a conference.  I’m a bit behind, but now that I’ve read it, I think I need to have a side decision next week at our next meeting.  It would be interesting to talk about what other mothers thought about the story.

Overall, The Light Between Oceans was an excellent novel with a great setting and fascinating flawed characters.  I highly recommend it, especially as book to discuss in a book club.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library


  1. Laura, this book would probably have the same effect on me. Your review is sensitive and wonderful. I will keep this book in mind.

  2. Thank-you. It was a great book. We just discussed it at book club again last week and it did have a profound effect on all those that read it!