Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

In my semi-regular wanderings through the crowded shelves of bookstores, I’d noticed this book many times, but for some curious reason I never bothered to take a closer look. All that changed recently when a friend recommended I read ‘The Light Between Oceans’ – Β yet another case of better late than never (and friends having excellent taste).

The Light Between Oceans

From the outset I knew this would be an emotionally charged story. I mean it’s right there in the book’s blurb, ‘They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours’Β … so I knew what I was getting into (and if I’m being completely honest, I’m kind of a sucker for a tragic tale).

The Light Between Oceans includes a small cast of characters based in Western Australia and focusses on the story of Tom Sherbourne – a young lighthouse-keeper who is employed on the remote island of Janus Rock. Even during the early chapters of the book where happiness and love abounds, there is a subtle sense of foreboding which suggests that these good times may not last forever.

When a boat carrying a crying infant washes ashore on Janus Rock and disturbs the isolated existence of Tom and his wife Isabel, they ask themselves a life-changing question – what should they do with this unexpected arrival? Their answer has repercussions which reach far beyond the boundaries of their island home. While the right choice is initially clear, life in a private universe of two introduces a unique alternative – an option which is especially tempting for people like Tom and Isabel who have a great capacity for love and are struggling to overcome recent tragedies. Could this child offer them a new beginning?

M.L. Stedman’s writing is elegant and beautiful, and as a debut novel it’s an absolute stunner. I must admit that I do have a weakness for tales set near the ocean, and as I grow older I find myself increasingly drawn to stories based in Australia. But even given those concessions, The Light Between Oceans is a confident story that moves at brisk pace through happiness and heartbreak towards a clear destination. The characters are realistic, interesting and likeable – I found it impossible not to be drawn into their lives.

This book offers an eloquent reminder of the complexities and consequences associated with even the most well-intentioned of choices. It is a highly recommended read which does indeed tug at the heart, but the beauty of the story far outweighs any sadness (just don’t make my mistake and read the last few chapters while commuting on public transport … save the ending for home).

If you’ve read The Light Between Oceans I’d love to know what you think, or otherwise I’m always looking for more reading recommendations … so feel free to suggest one of your favourites.


  1. Teresa

    No, I haven’t read ‘The Light Betweeen Oceans’ but your review makes it sound wonderful. I shall add it to my (ever increasing!) list. πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Teresa – Oh it’s so hard to stay on top of the ‘to read’ list, isn’t it? Mine seems to increase ever more day by day. πŸ™‚

  2. Pati Mo

    I am always looking for books to read so thanks for the review! I am reading right now the Casual Vacancy, have you read it? I’m liking it a lot so far. x

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Pati Mo – Glad you liked the review … I’m always looking for new books to read too. I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy … yet, but I hope to get to it one of these days. πŸ™‚

  3. Erika Lee Sears

    I will have to add this one to my book list πŸ™‚ Hope your having a wonderful day Tracey.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Erika – Thanks for dropping by. If you do get to read The Light Between Oceans one of these days, I’d love to know what you think. πŸ™‚

  4. Debby

    Sounds fascinating. I’m reading The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler and really enjoying her work. It was written in the eighties so it’s not new. I picked it up after Hannah read it, not her choice, but on a uni reading list. I’ve discovered that I love Tyler’s observation of her characters little idiosyncrasies.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Debby – I’ve never read any of Anne Tyler’s books before, but with your recommendation I shall have to track down one of her stories. I’m a big fan of writers who have that wonderful skill of creating and describing those little character quirks. πŸ™‚

  5. Linda from Heartfire At Home

    I read this book at the recommendation of a friend about 6 months ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was moved by it on many fronts. The ending made me cry too….. I just wish it had turned out slightly differently for some characters at the final important part (trying not to give things away). It’s hard to know what our choices would be when put in the situations this book delves into. I’m sure here and now I know what mine would be, but who knows how that might change if I were really faced with certain happenings and circumstances.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Linda – So glad to hear your thoughts about reading The Light Between Oceans echo my own. πŸ™‚

      I know what you mean about wishing for a different ending for some of the characters. It was such an emotional read and I found myself changing my mind about which characters to support as the story unfolded.

      The characters were so real and many of them so likeable that it was easy to get caught up in the story and wonder how you’d face the situations they find themselves in. Full credit to the author for creating such a tense and emotionally complex tale.

  6. bobbi

    I already added this book on my goodreads list, because I saw it on your page! You know I’m always int he hunt for good books. right now I’m in a buthan and mongolia moment…but when this mania will be over this is probably the bool I’ll read.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Bobbi – That’s the great thing about goodreads … we can pick up book tips from each other (I’ve discovered so many great reads this way). The only trouble is the number we have to choose from (and finding enough hours in the day to do as much reading as we’d like to). πŸ™‚

  7. tinyWOOLF

    it’s a good tip, cheers, a title i’ve jotted down. an ocean can always tempt me too.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi TinyWOOLF – The ocean often calls … I really should make plans to visit it in reality more often than I do. xx

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