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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »

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Light Between Oceans

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Light Between Oceans Cover

ISBN13: 9781451681758
ISBN10: 1451681755
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel is both heartbreaking and transcendent, “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 an increasingly tragic set of consequences, these remote, strange lives are rendered immediate and familiar” (The New Yorker).

Review:

“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

Review:

“M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans is a beautiful novel about isolation and courage in the face of enormous loss. It gets into your heart stealthily, until you stop hoping the characters will make different choices and find you can only watch, transfixed, as every conceivable choice becomes an impossible one. I couldn’t look away from the page and then I couldn’t see it, through tears. It’s a stunning debut.” Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

Review:

“M.L. Stedman, a spectacularly sure storyteller, swept me to a remote island nearly a century ago, where a lighthouse keeper and his wife make a choice that shatters many lives, including their own. This is a novel in which justice for one character means another’s tragic loss, and we care desperately for both. Reading The Light Between Oceans is a total-immersion experience, extraordinarily moving.” Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane and Untold Story

Review:

"Irresistible...seductive...a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page." O, the Oprah magazine

Review:

“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

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

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

Review:

“This heartbreaking debut from M L Stedman is a gem of a book that you'll have trouble putting down” Good Housekeeping

Review:

“This fine, suspenseful debut explores desperation, morality, and loss, and considers the damaging ways in which we store our private sorrows, and the consequences of such terrible secrets.” Martha Stewart Whole Living

Review:

“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.” The Daily Mail

Synopsis:

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 days 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.

About the Author

M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

Melinda Ott, June 25, 2014 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
Again, I'm probably one of the last people--or at least one of the last book bloggers--to read this. I have no excuse--especially since this has been sitting on my beside table since my mother gave it to me 6 months ago. But, man, I wish I'd read this earlier.

This is another one of those (rare) instances where a book actually lives up to all the hype surrounding it. This was apparently an Oprah book--which doesn't necessarily make me think I will like it. Slightly more often than not, I do not enjoy her picks. But this one had me all in.

I think part of my reaction to this book had to do with the fact that I am a mother. I haven't read many of the other reviews on it yet (I usually don't check out reviews until after I've written my own review), so I don't know if someone who is not a parent would have a different experience of this book. But, as a mother, this story cut right to my soul.

The entire plot hinges on a decision made by Tom and Isabel. Did they make the "right" decision? Probably not. However, I can't say that I wouldn't make the same decision if I found myself in the same circumstances. That's the thing...none of these characters are "bad" or "good," they are just human. I can't say I rooted for or against any of them and, while there were times that Isabel infuriated me, there was never a time that I couldn't relate to her.

I truly adored everything about this book--the plot, the characters, the writing--and even found myself tearing up (okay, sobbing) at the end. Really, if you haven't read this, just do it. Now.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Denise Wright-Ianni, June 22, 2014 (view all comments by Denise Wright-Ianni)
A man rowed out to sea to escape prejudice from his fellow townsmen with his newborn daughter on April 25, 1926. He was German and treated badly by the small town dwellers. He washed up at the lighthouse off the coast of the town dead probably not long after. Of course the baby survived and became Lucy the novel's focus.

The novel twists and turns slowly weaving the reader into the post WWI time in a far away place and time - Australia. It winds down a road of choices and personalities. Tom is torn between right and wrong and his marriage vows (thick and thin) but Isabel can only think of her own needs and desires/losses - 3 miscarriages!

This novel is all about exploring prejudice and stereotypes including gender roles (married women not criminally responsible).  Very clever!

Late in the story Tom starts to think about his life and its many phases/transformations.  I particularly like the line "Like Russian dolls, these lives sit within him". So true - we are all shaped by our experiences but come out as something new on the other side; transformed for better or worse.

Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Joanne Haley, May 8, 2014 (view all comments by Joanne Haley)
This is one of the best books I have read!!!! It is beautifully written - each sentence I felt like savoring!!! The emotions it touches on and the "human-ness" it reveals is amazing. It's a love story, a heartbreaking story, an uplifting story - all in one!!!! I will remember this book for many years to come. It's about a lighthouse keeper & his wife who have a boat wash up on the rocks of the island they live on with something that will change not only their lives but many others as well. This is the author's debut novel - I am hoping her next is soon to follow!
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View all 9 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781451681758
Author:
Stedman, M.L.
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Author:
Stedman, ML
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8 x 5.25 in

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Light Between Oceans Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9781451681758 Reviews:
"Review" by , “An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them.”
"Review" by , “M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans is a beautiful novel about isolation and courage in the face of enormous loss. It gets into your heart stealthily, until you stop hoping the characters will make different choices and find you can only watch, transfixed, as every conceivable choice becomes an impossible one. I couldn’t look away from the page and then I couldn’t see it, through tears. It’s a stunning debut.”
"Review" by , “M.L. Stedman, a spectacularly sure storyteller, swept me to a remote island nearly a century ago, where a lighthouse keeper and his wife make a choice that shatters many lives, including their own. This is a novel in which justice for one character means another’s tragic loss, and we care desperately for both. Reading The Light Between Oceans is a total-immersion experience, extraordinarily moving.”
"Review" by , "Irresistible...seductive...a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page."
"Review" by , “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.”
"Review" by , “[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
"Review" by , “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.”
"Review" by , “This heartbreaking debut from M L Stedman is a gem of a book that you'll have trouble putting down”
"Review" by , “This fine, suspenseful debut explores desperation, morality, and loss, and considers the damaging ways in which we store our private sorrows, and the consequences of such terrible secrets.”
"Review" by , “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.”
"Synopsis" by , 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 days 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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