The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman


Publication Date: 31 July 2012

Publisher: Scribner

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction 

Pages: 343

Rating: screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-9-39-17-pm

The Light Between Oceans is a touching and compelling read, and flows just how a literary fiction novel should. What made me want to read this book was the premise, as it is very intriguing.

Tom finds work on an island in Western Australia as a lighthouse keeper, which renders him very lonely. After meeting Isabel in town away from the island, the two get married, and grow to love their easy life on Janus Rock. One day, Tom spots a boat washed ashore with a dead man and a baby, and Isabel persuades Tom to let them keep the child. As the years go on, Tom’s guilt over taking another woman’s baby becomes more evident within him, and he eventually meets the very woman who his choice affected the most.

‘The isolation spins its mysterious cocoon, focussing the mind on one place, one time, one rhythm – the turning of the light. The island knows no other human voices, no other footprints.’

This novel is so gripping and intimate, and I really felt the emotions of the characters. Whenever they had a decision to make, I wondered what I would do in their position. Tom is more likeable than Isabel, yet I could see where she was coming from and felt sorrow for what she was going through. I felt grief for all of the characters.

The detail that was added to the story was thought out, resulting in a good amount of background to a premise that otherwise seems unbelievable.

Something surprising that came out of the book was the sweet romance between Tom and Isabel. I was not expecting the story to be so highly devoted around their romance, but, as they were alone on an island for much of the novel, Isabel and Tom grew to have a great fondness for each other. Tom was a very loving and sweet husband.

The writing is exceptional and consistent, transitioning over time in a structured way. The novel made me question the difference between right and wrong, and the words that Isabel said to Tom persuaded me into thinking their actions were right. Although, I knew what they did was immoral, but considering what they faced as a couple their actions were somewhat justifiable.

I watched the 2016 film after I read the novel, and found the novel to be easier to follow. The film progressed quickly, and I preferred the novel because it was less confusing. Also, it may be difficult to understand the intentions of the characters in the film because not as much information is given, but I still found the film to be well-done.

The Light Between Oceans is quite sad and as a reader you will likely suffer on the characters behalf. I recommend this book to those who may be intrigued by the story and can put up with literary fiction.


  • Have you read The Light Between Oceans or seen the film?



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