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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel Paperback – August 23, 2016
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom--whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I--begins to waver. M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters and gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light Between Oceans. --Malissa Kent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Irresistible...seductive...a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page."—Sara Nelson, O, the Oprah magazine
“An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them.”—Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief
“Haunting...Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.”—Booklist, starred review
“[Stedman sets] the stage beautifully to allow for a heart-wrenching moral dilemma to play out... Most impressive is the subtle yet profound maturation of Isabel and Tom as characters.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The miraculous arrival of a child in the life of a barren couple delivers profound love but also the seeds of destruction. Moral dilemmas don’t come more exquisite than the one around which Australian novelist Stedman constructs her debut.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This heartbreaking debut from M L Stedman is a gem of a book that you'll have trouble putting down”—Good Housekeeping
“Lyrical…Stedman’s debut signals a career certain to deliver future treasures.” (People)
“A beautifully delineated tale of love and loss, right and wrong, and what we will do for the happiness of those most dear.” (Tova Beiser The Boston Globe)
“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…the relationship between Tom and Isabel, in particular, is beautifully drawn.” (Elysa Gardner USA Today)
Told with the authoritative simplicity of a fable…Stedman’s intricate descriptions of the craggy Australian coastline and her easy mastery of an old-time provincial vernacular are engrossing. As the couple at the lighthouse are drawn into and increasingly tragic set of consequences, these remote, strange lives are rendered immediate and familiar.” (The New Yorker)
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last third of the book. This author does not pull punches and the heart-wrenching grief faced by all involved is explored from every angle.
I had heard so much about this book and from such a wide spectrum of people that I added to my book group's reading list and we selected it for August. While not everyone loved it as much as I did, it generated more in-depth discussion than many books we have previously read and that, to me, is the sign of a good book.
I think it will appeal to the following audiences: people who love historical fiction, a strong sense of place, great writing, and being able to follow how individual choices made along the way can add up to a huge choice that one may not have made if the conclusion were evident from the beginning. I think the book will not appeal to people who like a lot of action and movement, who are looking purely for escapism reading with an uplifting story (and nothing wrong with that, it just isn't this book), or who have a difficult time visualizing walking in someone else's shoes and see the world very black and white.
This isn't my favorite book of all time, but I enjoyed it quite a bit and think the writing is stellar. As the storyline slowly unfolded, I could have been impatient to see what was coming next but the author did such a masterful job that I slowly walked the journey with the characters and felt their anguish and pain right along with them.
The story puts the characters in unique situations of asking what the right thing to do is, and how it will effect those around them. Overall I enjoyed it, with one complaint: although the pros are beautiful, the author switched back and forth between past and present tense for no apparent reason. To me it felt like a confusing, unedited writing style which negated other great things about the story. However I still recommend it and will be thinking about it for some time to come.
The book was definitely a page turner, there were times I had to have some serious self discipline and not read ahead to find out what happened. Sometimes it seemed that it was because parts were a little slow, but usually because I was curious to know what was going to happen and just wanted to get to the answers. The descriptions of the island were beautiful, you felt like you were really there. But there still felt like there was something that didn’t quite wow me about the book. It was a beautiful and interesting read and having finished the book a month before this review, it still sits in my mind as a pleasant enjoyable read.