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.
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.
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!
W S Krauss, November 21, 2013 (view all comments by W S Krauss)
This is a heartbreaking story of love, forgiveness and redemption. Tom Sherbourne, recently returned from WWI in Europe, takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on the remote island of Janus, a hundred miles off the coast of Western Australia. Before he leaves the town of Partageuse, from which he will be taken to the island, he meets a young woman named Isabel Graysmark and they begin a relationship that cuminates in marriage. Ultimately, Isabel and Tom move to Janus together to begin their married lives. After a series of miscarriages, Isabel and Tom are grieving. One day, they find a boat that washes up on the shore of the island. A dead man and a living baby are found in the boat. The decisions that Tom and Isabel make on that day impact them, and others, for the rest of their lives.
I was very uncomfortable reading this book at times. I had grown to love these characters and yet was appalled by their choices. However, without giving too much away, I felt the book resolved some of these dilemmas by the conclusion. It is not a storybook ending, however, and it is a novel of difficult themes. I will say that it made me think a lot about the lengths we will go to for those we love, and the balance of right and wrong with what is in our hearts. I will not soon forget this story.
Scribner Book Company -
by Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief,
“An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them.”
by Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It,
“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.”
by Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane and Untold Story,
“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.”
by O, the Oprah magazine,
"Irresistible...seductive...a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page."
by Booklist, starred 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.”
“[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
by Kirkus Reviews, 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.”
by Good Housekeeping,
“This heartbreaking debut from M L Stedman is a gem of a book that you'll have trouble putting down”
by Martha Stewart Whole Living,
“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.”
by The Daily Mail,
“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.”
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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