The To-Read Pile

There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…

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

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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

I picked up a proof copy of The Light Between Oceans while visiting a branch that had more than one. It came out in paperback recently which made me feel bad for the way it had just been sitting on the to-read pile waiting to be looked at. There’s nothing to make you feel terrible about not reading things like seeing them come into paperback when you’ve had them since before the hardback release!

The Light Between Oceans is set just off the coast of Australia in the late 1920s, when a lighthouse keeper and his wife find a baby washed ashore in a boat with the body of dead man. The choice they make after that, to raise the baby as their own, has consequences that they could not possibly have foreseen. The Light Between Oceans is really a story about difficult choices and about how, sometimes, no matter what you do, someone is going to get hurt.

What I liked:

There was something really beautiful about how this book was written. I particularly loved the way that Tom was written. There’s a paragraph in chapter four describing how he feels about being a lighthouse keeper that I especially loved.

M.L. Stedman does a really good job showing the moral complexity of decisions that seem fairly simple and obvious when they are made and that sometimes there just is no good choice.

The author also really captures the isolation and distance of living on a lighthouse. I could picture it quite clearly in my mind.

What I disliked:

The writing was, in most places, lyrical and beautiful but there were a few places where it just didn’t work and the sentences read as a little bit clunky. This was mostly a problem with dialogue.

I really, really didn’t like Tom’s wife, Isabel. It’s not that she wasn’t portrayed sympathetically – she was. I just found her unforgivably selfish. I could understand her selfishness but I still found it unpleasant to read about.


This was a book that left me with a lump in my throat and an aching heart. I wanted to put my copy into the hands of the next person I saw and insist that they read it. When I first finished it, I thought it was really, really good but, as time passed, I began to think about its flaws. It wasn’t perfect but I definitely recommend this book.


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This entry was posted on July 1, 2013 by in Reviews and tagged , , , .
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