Published July 31st 2012/Hardcover, 343 pages
Book Club Selection for February, 2014
Publisher’s Description (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.
Book Club Wrap-up: Overall, our group agreed this was one of those books that just begged to be discussed. Talk about your moral dilemmas and shades of gray. Most of us were impressed with the great descriptive writing, but one of us was distracted by the frequency of inconsistent verb tenses and the feeling that many of the situations were too contrived. We each had something to say about all the main and several of the minor characters, and there was a wide variety of comments and strong feelings about each. Of course, the main discussion was around the character’s decisions and consequences. We didn’t each actually give the book a rating, but I am guessing that that would have varied from 2 to 5 stars. Just like the greater reading community, we had widely differing thoughts on this book. That definitely made for a lively and satisfying discussion.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars (For me, this book wasn’t as much about plot and characters as it was about the craft of writing. I just kept rereading certain sentences and passages because they were just so descriptive.)
Reading Guide – we used these questions from the publisher to guide our discussion.
- Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (samannelizabeth.wordpress.com)
- Book Club Dinner Menu for our Discussion of The Light Between Ocean was inspired by the ocean and Australian setting, Isabel’s garden, and baby Lucy
- Deep Blue Sea Martini
Baby Tarts (mini-phyllo shells with goat cheese)
Cheese Tray with Garden Vegetables