13158800  Another one of those books with a reading guide.  Sheesh.  A reading guide.  Like a reader wouldn’t know what to make of this book without someone telling them what to think.   Well, pfffffft.  I know what to think about it.  I thought it was compelling, sad, and full of just the kinds of things people do, thinking at the time, “Yeah.  This’ll work.”

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 and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, 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.

I bet you can see where this is going already, right?   It is  moving story about what happens when good people make bad decisions.  What I found captivating was …. and maybe I am stretching the intentions of the author a bit here …  that the book is filled with people having made bad decisions and living with the consequences, not just our two main characters.

Maile Meloy (author) says:

It is a beautiful novel about isolation and courage in the face of enormous loss.  …. You stop hoping the characters will make different choices, and find you can only watch, transfixed, as every conceivable choice becomes an impossible one.

I always say that when people claim they have no other options, that what they are really saying is that they have no other options that they like.   This is a story of no other options that we like.

I don’t want to give the story away.  How about a couple of quotes that are examples of the lovely writing:

Forgiving is so much less exhausting.  You only have to forgive once.  To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.  You have to keep remembering all the bad things.   I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount.  That I did a very proper job of hating, too.


Like the wheat fields where more grain is sown than can ripen, God seemed to sprinkle extra children about, and harvest them according to some indecipherable, divine calendar.


The Addicotts lived in a house which but for a few yards of sea grass, would have been paddling its toes in the ocean.

And finally,

He thinks back to Janus, and the light he cared for there for so long, every one of its flashes still traveling somewhere into the darkness far out toward the universe’s edge.

Perhaps this story will stay with you, its message still traveling far out toward the universe’s edge.


One comment on “THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M. L. Stedman

  1. Phoghat says:

    I’m calling shennigans on this “reading guide” business. the purpose of a reading guide, as far as I know, is to guide a student to understand something in a book, usually a non=fiction book, or to understand an author’s meaning in a novel: the symbolism, etc.
    It seems to me, that including such a guide, in what is basically run of the mill literature smacks of elitism, at best

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