The Light Between Oceans book review

Hello, readers!

I’ve completed two novels and am currently halfway through my third book of 2015! I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging lately because I was studying for the GRE, took the GRE, and last Friday I sent in my application for Grad school… Keep your fingers crossed for me! You know, I think it is highly amusing when you’re watching a t.v. show and it seems as if the characters are going through the same thing you are. For example, I am three episodes away from finishing the last season of Gilmore Girls; I just watched the episode where Rory is anxious to hear back from a fellowship she applied for, while Paris gets accepted into every school she applied for. Rory didn’t get accepted for the fellowship… so I’m hoping and praying that my fate matches Paris’s instead of Rory’s.

Needless to say, I’ve been stressed out since December when it hit me that I’m actually about to start the application process and not just spending time studying quantitative problems that I will never use in my life.

Anyway, I’m finally able to take the time to write book reviews again. I also started another reading challenge for 2015. I have decided to focus on book series that I’ve been meaning to finish, like The Lord of The Rings trilogy and some YA series like Delirium and Matched.

Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman was an audio book that I purchased on my Audible account. I’m not a huge fan of audio books but I occasionally will get one if I’ve had enough of the radio. I’m so glad I picked up this novel.

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Below is the synopsis of The Light Between Oceans from Goodreads:

“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 and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, 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, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. 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 seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.
The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.”

I found this novel to be a fascinating read (or rather listen.) The writing style is very descriptive, but not as far as Tolkien descriptive, rather more classical writing than dialogue writing. The setting of the novel mainly exists at Janus Rock. Isolated, quiet, and a place of responsibility, Janus Rock- a tiny island near Australia- reminds me of the type of symbolic setting similar to the settings in Jane Eyre.

We meet Tom, the husband and protagonist #1, around the time that he returns from WWI. There is a scene where we are shown his first “good deed” after the war, and it is very important later on in the novel. A woman named Hannah is being harassed and Tom saves her. This is the first of many times that he does things with the mindset of doing good deeds, and he does so because he is trying to atone for the things he did during war. Deeply affected by the war (I suspect PTSD), Tom finds comfort and solitude when he becomes the new lighthouse keeper.

Protagonist #2, Isabel, is the wife of Tom and definitely the more imaginative and flighty of the two. She’s kind-hearted and adventurous, but has trouble feeling completely content with the isolation that Janus Rock offers.

We are led to believe that the main conflict of the story is Isabel’s struggle to have a baby, and how her miscarriages affect the marriage and bond between Tom and Isabel. In actuality, the main conflict is about what the RIGHT thing to do is in certain situations and the nature of people in their choices.
-Tom believes that no matter how much he loves Isabel and Lucy, the right thing to do is to come clean about everything and to set things right, no matter how devastating it would be to himself and Isabel.
-Isabel believes this is a prayer answered in an unusual way, and that even though it’s sad that they found out Lucy’s dad was dead in the boat and that her biological mother is alive, the right thing to do is to “move forward”. Let the breaks stay clean and give Lucy a second chance/give them a second chance.

There is also an underlying message about the aftermath of war (particularly on society) and how any race can be deemed unworthy or at any point a soldier can be seen from heroic to psychotic. The power of influence is strong but can easily be misguided. I found this message fascinating because of everything that has been and still is going on with conflict in the Middle East. In The Light Between Oceans, any German person was criticized and ostracized because of the war, and that includes Lucy’s biological father (but that’s all I’m saying on that subject.)

The last two chapters are tragically beautiful. Stedman paints a portrait of forgiveness, of resentment, of growth and of undying love. Circle. Lucy-Grace (you’ll have to read to see why her name changes!) visits Tom years later with her newborn and she tells him that she understands why they did what he and Isabel did. Compassion.

I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars! I inhaled heartache but exhaled unconditional love while reading this novel. If you like Jane Eyre or Girl with The Pearl Earring, this novel is for you.

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4 thoughts on “The Light Between Oceans book review

  1. Good luck with your applications! I actually apply to grad school the end of this summer… Definitely not looking forward to the application/testing process… But this seems like a great read, nice review!

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