The Light Between Oceans: A Novel (Paperback)
Set post WWI, decorated war hero Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to be a lighthouse keeper, but before heading out to Janus Rock, he meets and falls in love with Isabelle. They marry and live an idyllic life except that Isabelle keeps on miscarrying. One day, three weeks after her third pregnancy has ended with a stillborn birth, Isabelle hears a baby's cry while Tom finds a boat washed ashore with a three month old baby who is alive and the baby's father who has died. Against Tom's better judgment, they decide to keep the baby and claim her as their own. Though Tom is apprehensive, Isabelle is deliriously happy for the the next two years until Tom, Isabelle, and Lucy make a trip back to mainland Australia and discover that Lucy's biological mother is still trying to find her lost husband and child. Tom and Isabelle's marriage is put to the test as they agonize about what they should do. An emotional read that grabs your heart and does not let go. Book clubs will love discussing the moral dilemma and ethical questions that arise. I loved this book!— Martha
August 2012 Indie Next List
“World War I is over and Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia as a lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. His young bride, Isabel, joins him, and they love their isolated life on Janus. Sadness descends however, as they try unsuccessfully to start a family. A small boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a beautiful, healthy baby girl whom they make their own, living happily until they go back to the mainland and begin to realize the consequences of their actions. With incredibly visual prose evocative of the time and place, compelling characters, themes of forgiveness and redemption, and a riveting plot that won't let you put the book down, this is a great debut novel.”
— Judy Crosby, Island Books, Middletown, RI
The years-long New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Best Historical Novel that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine)—soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks starring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
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, 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, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and 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.
“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…beautifully drawn” (USA TODAY), The Light Between Oceans is a gorgeous debut novel, not soon to be forgotten.
About the Author
M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.
"Irresistible...seductive...a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page."—Sara Nelson, O, the Oprah magazine
“An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them.”—Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief
“Haunting...Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.”—Booklist, starred review
“[Stedman sets] the stage beautifully to allow for a heart-wrenching moral dilemma to play out... Most impressive is the subtle yet profound maturation of Isabel and Tom as characters.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The miraculous arrival of a child in the life of a barren couple delivers profound love but also the seeds of destruction. Moral dilemmas don’t come more exquisite than the one around which Australian novelist Stedman constructs her debut.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This heartbreaking debut from M L Stedman is a gem of a book that you'll have trouble putting down”—Good Housekeeping
“Lyrical…Stedman’s debut signals a career certain to deliver future treasures.”
“A beautifully delineated tale of love and loss, right and wrong, and what we will do for the happiness of those most dear.”
— Tova Beiser
“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…the relationship between Tom and Isabel, in particular, is beautifully drawn.”
— Elysa Gardner
Told with the authoritative simplicity of a fable…Stedman’s intricate descriptions of the craggy Australian coastline and her easy mastery of an old-time provincial vernacular are engrossing. As the couple at the lighthouse are drawn into and increasingly tragic set of consequences, these remote, strange lives are rendered immediate and familiar.”
— The New Yorker