Monday 16 July 2012

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman

'Tom Sherbourne, released from the horrors of the First World War, is now a lighthouse keeper, cocooned on a remote Australian island with his young wife Izzy, who is content in everything but her failure to have a child. 

One April morning, a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man - and a crying baby. Safe from the real world, Tom and Izzy break the rules and follow their hearts. 

It is a decision with devastating consequences.'

Literary fiction novel The Light Between Oceans is the first book I've read as part of the AWW2012 Challenge. I was intrigued by the book's tagline - 'This is a story about right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same'. This blurring of right and wrong is the strong theme throughout the novel. Tom and Isabel make their decision based on love and with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, their actions take something precious away from another and for this a price must be paid. 

This may be M.L Stedman's debut novel, but she is a very accomplished writer. The language is exquisite at times. For example I adored this sentence - "the stars, too, illuminate the clear air, and the Milky Way rubs a bright smudge across the darkness." I found the writing to be very lyrical.

At the beginning, it did take me a little time to really get caught up in the story. But once Isabel and Tom had made their fateful decision, I was desperate to see how the truth would be discovered and what the 'devastating consequences' would be. As the story progresses the writing is broken up into shorter sections. I liked this because it kept up a quick pace which I thought mirrored the urgency I felt - I wanted to know how it would all be resolved.  

Descriptions of the setting are wonderful  - I could really feel the remote island of Janus and how isolating yet beautiful it was. Australia itself is a strong force in the novel, which I liked. Character development was very good. I came to really care for the characters and I could understand everyone's motivations, whether they were 'right' or 'wrong'.

What I loved most was the exploration of what it means to be a mother. Who is really someone's mother - the woman who gives birth to you or the one who nurtures and raises you?

The Light Between Oceans is a thought-provoking, touching and sad story which focusses a lot on a person's moral compass. I enjoyed reading the book and the story kept me enthralled. Highly recommended.


  1. Thanks for your review, Erin. I definitely want to read this book.

  2. Lovely review Erin, I thought this was wonderful as well