Title: Light Between Oceans, The
Authors: Stedman, M L
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 343
Year: 2012
Publisher: Random House
Language: English
Description: Above all else, Isabel Sherbourne wants a baby. When in 1926 a dinghy washes ashore on the isolated West Australian island of Janus Rock where her husband Tom is the lighthouse keeper, it seems as if all their prayers are answered. That is, until four years later when baby Lucy is reunited with her mother requiring Tom and Isabel to face the devastating consequences of their actions.

With its exquisite descriptions of life on the island and its sensitively portrayed characters, this story engages the reader on all levels leaving them pondering the dilemmas of right and wrong and the power of forgiveness.

Comments from Groups:

Our whole group without exception enjoyed the book very much, and quite understand how it was voted top book across all groups in 2014. The detailed and descriptive passages , the believable characters and moving plot all make it a winner. We await her next book eagerly. Nelson 023

We all loved this book and many tears were shed! Definitely our favourite this year. Tauranga 036

Many thought it was a 'contrived plot', and wondered if the author's legal training led her to create an ethical dilemma, and then to construct a plot around it. Good discussion generally. Hurunui 001

This was probably the first book we've had that everyone in the group enjoyed. A well written and interesting story with lovely imagery - and Steadman created a moral dilemma that made it all but impossible to decide what was right and wrong. Christchurch 299

We enjoyed this book mostly because of the author's beautiful descriptions and use of language that conveyed the isolation so well. The plot, although predictable (that it would all turn to custard) was well constructed and held the reader's interest right till the end. Cromwell 003

This book ticked all the boxes for our group. Beautifully written, and a heart-breaking story with credible characters, all of whom were touched by the tragedy at its centre.... Dunedin 029

We all loved this book. A bit of a 'tear jerker' in the end. We all sympathised with the position they found themselves in, and understood both Isobel and Tom's different emotional positions. We liked Isobel's character less as the book progressed. Great read. Masterton 014

It made some of us cry. Some thought the ending was too tidy, and some found the book quite intense. But all found it an intriguing insight into history and a past way of life. Palmerston North 029

Great book, great read, enjoyed by all. Skilful, evocative writing, excellent plot, well planned and clever. We felt as if we knew and understood ALL characters' motivations, and felt for all of them, which is some achievement on the part of the author. Discussion covered motivations, moral decisions, emotional blackmail, effect on the child etc - a wide ranging discussion. Tauranga 009

This book won lots of plaudits from our group - it was praised for its language and its narrative. Some characters appealed more than others and that helped to generate an excellent discussion. If Margaret Steadman produces another book, we hope it would make its way into the BDS catalogue! Hamilton 003

This book was enjoyed by most of our group. A couple thought it over-melodramatic and didn't like the writing, while others thought it a bit of a page turner and found the issues it raised very interesting. A sad story in some ways, but the characters were motivated by love which clouded their judgement. The discussion centred on Tom's inability to go against what Isobel wanted, hence allowing events to overtake them with tragic consequences. The unusual setting (isolated island and lighthouse) and Tom's motivation for wanting to live and work there were interesting in that they helped us understand the characters' needs - Tom's to get away from the horrors of WW1, and Isobel's to find love. A good read. Auckland 037

We all enjoyed this book. The lyrical writing made up for the implausible elements of the story. As we are all mothers in our group, we had an interesting time exploring our views of the predicaments of Isobel and Hannah. Some felt that a re-telling of the story from Hannah's perspective would have been interesting. Auckland 107

Categories: Fiction, Grief/loss, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Australia, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups


[Please log in to write a review]
By: CHCH 480 2019-12-03 11:04:41
Thoroughly enjoyed by all members. Engaging, sad, thought provoking and "just life". Beautifully written. Descriptive writing did not get in the way of the flow of the story.

By: WHANG 023 2019-10-17 17:22:11
This is one that most of us finished but no-one raved about it. We all felt that the ending let it down badly. Equally split between 3 and 4 stars.

By: CHCH 423 2019-10-10 22:14:34
Tears were shed in our group. This book is as much about what is said as what is not said. Wonderful evocative and clear writing.

By: CHCH 449 2019-10-04 11:03:13
A challenging read... challenging because it stirred so many emotions, not because of the writing style. Was it all realistic? A couple of elements were debatable but there were so many different aspects to the story that the author presented amazingly well so we overlooked the questionable parts. Certainly everyone was pleased they had read this story and we had a lively discussion to follow.

By: AUCK 412 2019-06-08 20:07:00
Most of us truly loved this storyline. My absolute favourite.

By: FEILD 005 2019-04-16 22:23:12
Everyone really enjoyed this month's book. Great descriptive writing. A lengthy discussion took place.

By: NAP 021 2019-03-08 20:11:07
Our members collectively enjoyed this book - in 12 years of being together this is one of the very few books that we have agreed on. The writing was superb, and even though some of us had seen the movie, the narrative followed the film, or the film followed this book, whichever, it was very well done. We had a lengthy discussion about the subject of finding the baby and keeping it and agreed that the decision either way was so sad. Many of us shed a few tears throughout the reading. A good book.

By: CROMW 008 2018-11-26 14:47:29
Everyone enjoyed this read. Interestingly some people couldn't put the book down during the second half, whereas some people found it challenging to get through to the end. An emotional read.

By: AUCK 344 2018-11-26 14:42:36
'The Light Between Oceans' was loved by everyone in our group - not often that happens! M.L. Stedman's writing is beautiful. Some people wanted to buy the book and read it again. The book also generated great discussion too, about right and wrong, and what we would have done in the circumstances. A book that stays with you.

By: THAM 004 2018-11-26 14:35:42
Caused more discussion than any book to date. Raised issues of morality, compassion, miscarriage and mental health more than any other. Probably the first book read completely by all.

By: MATAM 001 2018-11-26 14:34:13
We all enjoyed this book for its descriptive writing evoking such a sense of place. A powerful story with a moral conundrum at its heart. The conflict between emotion and the law, and Tom's anguish over his feelings for Isabel and his sense of right. The writing was described as lyrical, and the story absorbing and very thought-provoking.

By: AUCK 306 2018-11-26 14:29:20
Our group loved this book, for its style of writing and also for the challenging moral dilemma posed in the story. The "right" thing to do upon discovering the baby wasn't carried out, but we could understand Isabel's decision given her situation of previous losses, and Tom's actions later. Beautiful and sad story.

By: CHCH 353 2018-11-26 14:25:49
The group enjoyed the book on the whole. It was well-written with great descriptions and had a plausible moral dilemma. Some members felt it was sad but nonetheless compelling.

By: WHITBY 005 2018-07-16 16:47:25
Overall, we really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to most people. Discussion topics included: the damaging effects of war on participants, the reasons for breaking "rules", the wide and often unexpected ramifications of rule-breaking, the pain of losing babies, or any loved ones, the effects of racial bias, and community intolerance. The strength and power of love is a theme of this book. The characters and environment are realistically portrayed, and easy to relate to, the writing is effective, and altogether it is a believable, well-constructed story.

The Book Discussion 
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