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THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is a delicate, beautifully written love story and very difficult to imagine that it is M.L. Stedman’s debut novel.   This story is a fine tuned piece of literature.  It has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for an extended period of time and is one of the big books on Oprah’s book club schedule.

I am sharing this book from a recent book group discussion, because our group just enjoyed this book from start to finish even though there was a great deal of sadness in the telling of the tale.  The premise of the story is unusual and after reaching the last page the book lingers with one for a number of days and comes back to mind often.  All 12 participants thought the book a marvelous read, even with all the different thoughts about it; there was really no correct answer to the dilemma.

The author “poses an impossible dilemma and makes us question the judgments of all involved.” Lianne Koliren: Daily Express (UK)

The location of the story is significant and it takes place out on a rocky island which has a light house and a keeper who are stationed there for a year at a time.  The light is in an area of heavy currents between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific and is 100 miles from the point of land that is home base.  The men are coming home from France and the war, attempting to adjust to their lives and find work.  There are rough passages to navigate all round.

The member of our group who chose this book had journeyed to Tasmania and while there had visited a lighthouse and saw a tiny grave for a baby on the bluff beside the light. She was curious.  She set her search on finding a book or story about just such an experience listing Australia, baby, and lighthouse as her search words and that is how she found this story for us to read.

As one begins reading and then is taken through the back stories of the characters, it is amazing how fragile this group is and how they found each other.  They all had such hopes and yet had to proceed in new directions; maybe one could say they needed to recover from their individual hopes in order to find themselves – live forward.

How can we right the wrongs of father’s sins and mother’s silence?  How can we protect those we love and make amends for those who were lost in war?  What is the right choice or the moral choice?  How does the context of a life change its progression?  We are all searching for love, are we able to find it?

The writing is not frenzied or hurried, it is a waltz surrounded in our own arms and thoughts. The brassy, glass housing lights the beyond and not the below, it is for others and not for the self no matter the storm or wind.

This is a book from my own collection because I have just read three other books for review and I do not wish to tell you about any of them.  THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is a good read and I agree that it is worthwhile literature.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site link, I will receive a few blossoms in my bouquet.  I can purchase more books to review! Donations also welcomed

Related Reading:
In the Land of the Living
Letters from Skye
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
In the Garden of Stone

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  1. Talon Says:

    My daughter has been to Tasmania. Just reading your review, Patricia, I can tell this is a book I want to read…I think it’s the type of book that will linger.

    Patricia Reply:

    A stunning read. It does linger and it is sad too

  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “The location of the story is significant and it takes place out on a rocky island which has a light house and a keeper who are stationed there for a year at a time.”

    This sentence alone did the trick! Thank you, as always, for another engaging book review.

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Laurie – I am sure you will like it

  3. Sara Says:


    I think is one of the most beautiful book reviews you’ve written. I loved this line: “The writing is not frenzied or hurried, it is a waltz surrounded in our own arms and thoughts.”

    And then these words, “maybe one could say they needed to recover from their individual hopes in order to find themselves – live forward.”

    These are a gorgeous use of words.

    The book sounds sad, but interesting and if an entire book club can agree on the book being so readable…that’s always a good recommendation:~)

    Hope your day is going well, Patricia:~)
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    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you for you lovely words about my words. They mean a great deal to me.

    The book is sad
    The writing is beautiful

  4. Deschutes River Fly Fishing Says:

    The first part of the book was enjoyable to read, but as the plot begins to thicken and the characters lives unravel, it becomes utterly dark and depressing. I was waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel, but it didn’t really arrive there. It leaves the reader in a tragic state of hopelessness at the end, with even the main character admitting that the story will soon be forgotten by everyone and life will go on.

    Patricia Reply:

    Deschutes River Fly Fishing.
    Welcome and I am glad you read the book to the end – yes I think the sadness of a poor but loving decision did not have great rewards but it made for a very interesting story.

    As the parent of adopted children, they could have done the right thing in the first place and then applied for baby of their own – Why the baby’s grandfather was fostered – quite an example….but then we all can be blinded by what we think is love.

    I quite often do not read Oprah’s book suggestions just because they are always so dark and sad.

    The rest of my book group was quite able to just move on to the next book.
    Thank you for your insightful comment

  5. Sam Juliano Says:

    Sounds like the discussion group really took this novel and flew with it, in large measure for the alluring other-side-of-the-world setting and including the participation of one who has traveled close to the actual location. Apparently your stellar review has much support online as well.

    Patricia Reply:

    Yes lots of good words about this book –
    This particular book group has truly enjoyed several of our recent reads – including the history read THE LEMON TREE.

    Although we have several working lighthouses on our bay – most are run by satellites now and that was an interesting concept to discuss also – how our lives have changed.

    We have cars that park themselves now – and some the blind can drive!

    The lifestyle descriptions were romantic though a bit lonely – lots of sad in this story
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