The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman Book Summary

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.

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The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman) Book Reviews

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- Story of life, love consequences.5 star

Beautiful written. Life giving & taking story about decisions made and consequences lived by good people with hearts, feeling, fallibility but most of all love.

- A real page turner5 star

Couldn't put it down. Very well written.

- Beautifully written5 star

This was a beautifully written page turner. Heartbreaking and captivating.

- Very sad1 star

Why would the author of this book have such a horrible ending? Not only did Isabel lose her daughter, but then she never got to see her again. There could've been a happier ending than that horrible ending!! Why why why would the author make that happen? I hate this book!

- No happiness1 star

This is definitely one of the saddest most depressing things I've ever read. I finished it because I paid for it but kind of wish I'd never bought it.

- Definitely a good read5 star

Make sure you grab tissues for the last parts of the book. I loved this book. I can understand both views of Isabel and Hannah.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

What an amazing plot. Enjoyed this book with its surprising twist and turn. Definitely well written.

- Good story but3 star

A very long drawn out ending

- Great book5 star

Couldn't put it down. Loved every minute of it.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

You are a much stronger person than I if you can bring yourself to put this down in the third act. The Light Between Oceans examines the power of love. We go through life thinking that love can never cause pain to others, that holding those we love closely as possible is always for the best, but that's not always so. In the most beautiful of descriptive settings, Ms Stedman illustrates the unintentional pain that love can bring. And the harsh reality that sometimes the best thing you can do for someone you love is to let them go. It's a bittersweet, poignant read. And one you will never regret.

- A must read5 star

Even though you can kinda guess the ending, doesn't mean it isn't heart wrenching! I have never cried over a book, but this ending will give you ugly cry face😭. But completely worth having ugly cry face!

- Outstanding5 star

The book is very beautifully written. I couldn't put it down and spent one whole day just reading it. The characters are so alive and real that one could think it is truly happening.

- Gripping5 star

Between the story line as well as the way the characters drew you in and made you feel for all of them, I could not put this book down. Compelling story that in some way would touch anybody who reads it.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

This is the best book I have ever read. Thank you

- MUST READ5 star

The best book I have ever ever ever read!!!!! Just grab some kleenex and keep them handy

- The Light Between Two Oceans5 star

This is the best book I have read in a long long time. This is a must read!!! I enjoyed every minute of it and could not put it down.

- Heart Wrenching5 star

Bravo! I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experience. I have a new love and appreciation for lighthouses. This story will rip your heart out and put it back together again. I fell in love with all the characters especially Tom!

- The first half was good...4 star

I really enjoyed the first half of this book, but it seemed to get a bit silly... It's worth a read but don't have high expectations

- Very emotional and touching ...loved it!5 star

This book was amazing, it was very very hard to put down. You will fall in love with Tom and Izzy immediately. This story is a classic.

- Tear jerker5 star

Wonderful story. Wish so much it would have had a happier ending. I just loved it.

- The Light Between Oceans4 star

I loved the book with all it's twisting events.

- Moving book5 star

Great book. So many truisms this author shared in a wonderful warm story.

- Amazing Read!5 star

Masterfully written; heart wrenching story! Bravo Ms. Stedman! Bravo!

- The light between oceans5 star

Beautifully heart wrenching story that will keep your attention from the first page to the last. Wonderful writing and storytelling. Wish the author had other books.

- Make it into a movie plzzzzzzz5 star

This book is so good it deserves to be in the big screen.

- So Good!5 star

The best book I've read in a really long time. A little slow at first, but so worth it!

- Wondeful5 star

An amazing, beautiful story - perfectly paced. One of the best books I have read.

- The light between oceans5 star

5 stars hand down the best read in a while loved it from start to finish.

- Enjoyed this book4 star

A little slow in the beginning but really liked this book.

- Wonderful5 star

What a heart warming story! It was hard to put down. Always wondering what was going to happen next! My heart was hurting for Tom and Isabel and Hannah too! Well written story! Love it!

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- Must read!5 star

Amazingly told story. I often wonder what I would have done in that situation.

- The Light from Oceans5 star

A most amazing story of love loss, betrayal and redemption; beautifully written as to bring vivid images to the mind. So hard to put down!

- Heart wrenching!5 star

Wow, never have I read a book that made me sob, heart wrenching sobs!! This book touched me like never before. Having a child same age as Lucy just made it all too real for me. Very well written, I could not put it down. It can be hard to read at times because it is so tragic but if you want a story that draws you right in, this is it!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

This book was an amazing read and had me feeling so many different emotions. I am a father to a beautiful little girl, which definitely played on my emotions. The story had me rooting for both sides and questioning what was best for baby Lucy. I can't wait for more releases from this author.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

5 stars in my opinion! It made me feel what the Characters in the book were feeling. Very well written.

- Beloved5 star

I loved loved loved this novel. It is beautifully written.

- Beautifully written5 star

The poignant story is unforgettable. Well crafted and believable characters. Compelling storyline. But it's that language that takes this beyond ordinary. This is one of the most beautifully written books I've come across in a long time. And to's a first novel! Looking forward to more from this author.

- Amazing book5 star

One of the best books I've read- ever. You name the emotion, it is felt in the pages of this story. I'm touched.

- The light in between oceans5 star

Loved it!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

My intent here is not to write a book review of ‘The Light Between Oceans’ but more so to capture and reflect on some of my personal thoughts while reading and enjoying this powerful novel by ML Stedman. · The author reminds us that our journey in this life and our choices of paths to take are often guided by our hearts and that we must be prepared to accept the consequences of these choices. · In reading the first section of this book, I reflected on my own Christian faith and values when Tom is struggling with his own anguish and desire to do the right thing. I could not help but to muse about my cradle of faith and the Catholic ‘guilt’ that I read on every page during Tom’s distress to keep the peace with Isabel. ML Stedman explores the grey, murky waters between the absolutes of right and wrong with remarkable sensitively. Decisions made with good intentions, with love, prove ultimately to have consequences that cause irreparable harm. This is a heartbreaking tale that has strong emotional impact I found myself equally torn as the story unfolds, my sympathies lay with all the protagonists, two grieving women and a man who wants to do right by both of them. · I have been trying to understand and learn more about the value of forgiveness: this book helped me a great deal in this search as Hannah reflects on her pain and remembers the words of her husband - “You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” Frank (Hannah’s late husband) reminds us that we do have a choice - “But how? How can you just get over these things, darling?...You've had so much strife but you're always happy. How do you do it?''I choose to...I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget. 'But it's not that easy. 'He smiled that Frank smile. 'Oh, but my treasure, it 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 proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No' - his voice became sober- 'we always have a choice. All of us.'" (p.323”) · This story reinforces our faith that working at doing the right thing can work out and knowing that even when we are surrounded by oceans of despair and darkness, the light will reappear.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

What a great book! I really enjoyed it. Tonight is our book club meeting and this is the book I chose to present to our group. I look forward to the discussion.

- Light between oceans4 star

When a book has me sobbing at the end, it was worth every second of reading. I loved the plot and the characters, their struggles and lives. Very realistic. The writing describes a different world than what I know but I found myself "there" as I read. I will recommend this book without a hesitation.

- Disappointed2 star

I found this book to be very predictable and sad. There are some sad books that I have read, loved, and recommended to others. This is Not one of them.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

What a fabulous novel.......beautiful story, well-crafted and unique. I enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end! Well done, Ms. Sfedman. I look forward to reading your next novel.

- Beautiful and painful5 star

A book that brought every emotion I could feel alive! Sadness, joy and anger all mixed together... The ending brought a sense of haunting peace!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

ML Stedman has constructed a literary masterpiece, in my estimation. The visual effect he brings to life with page after page of descriptive narrative is fantastic. Coupled with the emotional, and often gut-wrenching decisions almost all of the characters in this book have to make, at some point, makes this a very poignant and intensely compelling look into human nature, moral values, love, faith and empathy. This novel is easy to read and hard to put down-Stedman penned a winner here!

- Author5 star

How could you break our hearts so deeply and so tragically?

- The light Between Oceans5 star

A fantastic book! I was captivated from the beginning ... And by the end, my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest with angst but also of peace.... Loved every character and page of the book.

- The Light Between Two Oceans5 star

Very well written. The story is not predictable. I enjoyed the read as well as some valuable life lessons. I highly recommend this book.

- The Light Between oceans5 star

A wonderful story. This book is beautifully written. A definite must read.

- the light between oceans5 star

The moment I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down. The characters are well developed and take you into their world. I fought some tears in the end and loved the journey that this book took me on!

- Light between Oceans5 star

This book was amazing from start to finish. Characters were all wonderful and the story pulled at my emotions in many different directions. This is a must read. Loved it!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

This is the best book I have read in a very long time. So many best sellers I have stared and can not finish because of the stale story line or unnecessary fluff. This book, the moral dilemma, the love, the pain, the setting- I could not put it down. It is a classic with twists, turns and an ending with sage advice many of us should heed. Thanks for writing this book. I have recommended it to all of my friends searching for a great read and not just another formula best seller. This is the real thing!

- The light between oceans5 star


- The light between oceans5 star

This book moved me beyond words. It is at once both poetic and heartbreakingly tragic. As a mother myself, I could feel every nuance of pain that all concerned were feeling and was not clear, as I read it, how I wished it to end. Thank you for a great read!!!!!

- The Light between Oceans4 star

This is an excellent read. While the arc of the story unfolds, the characters begin to inhabit your skin. It's a paced drill down through layers and that becomes the sub text of reading this. You want to know the choices they make as much as the events they engender. Reminds me of a Margaret Atwood or an Alice Walker novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the pacing tempo articulating the rhythm of each character's place in the choir that makes this book sing.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

What a beautifully crafted story about another world and another era. I loved every page, and am telling all my friends about The Light Between Oceans

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- The light between oceans5 star

This story grabbed me at the very beginning and never let go. The characters are so real - all experiencing the best and worse life can throw at us and somehow they all survive. It is beautifully written with a beautiful ending.

- Great read4 star

An excellent book.

- The light between two oceans4 star

Very well written book that kept my interest. The descriptions were not overly wordy. Really liked the relationship that was developed with the characters and myself, though my imagination. Was sad when it ended. I would have liked it to go on a little longer. Not as I expected for the ending.

- In one word5 star


- Great book!5 star

I have never cried while reading a book until now. I couldn't put it down!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

Honestly, I didn't think I was going to like this book very much, but as I got about half way through it, I realized it was a great book that I couldn't put down. By the time I finished it yesterday, I found myself with tears in my eyes and in awe of how great of a book this is. As a divorced dad and a father of a 15 year old daughter who is not in my life at the moment. It put words to many of my hidden emotions and gave me hope for my family's future. The Light Between Oceans just moved to the top of my all-time favorite books. I am going to recommend it to all my friends and family!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

I was spellbound. Rarely do I find a book I cannot put down. Stedman's style of writing made it all come alive for me. Can't wait for her next book.

- Great5 star

I love this book

- Really?2 star

I can't deny this book is touching and grips you particularly towards the end. But as a mother, it was too painful to enjoy. I like to feel emotions when I read a book but I don't like to be overwhelmed with sadness, which at some points, feels like only for the sake of being sad.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

Beautifully written. Poignant. A story about humans for humans. We have within us the power to love, to live, to forgive. These are the things we must strive to do. Thank you, Ms. Stedman, for this experience. Please keep writing your stories. I will keep reading them. Jan Zovickian

- Mind-numbingly bad1 star

If you want to hopelessly waste your time, this is the book for it. Emotionless, detached, eloquently worded to no purpose, and completely lacking regard for proper character development, this book will only keeping you reading it out of morbid curiosity to find out what happens to an orphaned girl who is completely devoid of any personality that the reader might find endearing.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

Well written with an unusual story line.I'm waiting for the authors next novel.

- Slow to start3 star

Way too much background. The first 2/3 felt boring a

- Lyrical5 star

A stunning debut, lyrical in its pasages, full of emotion. I eagerly await more from this author.

- What a tangled web5 star

The title foreshadows this tale of being caught between. Lies and truth, forgiveness and hatred, loyalty and betrayal thread through this well written tale.

- The light between oceans5 star

Excellent read! Story line was great. Hated all the drama, but it was necessary to bring characters to life. Enjoyed this book quite a bit.

- Loved it5 star

Wonderful novel.

- The light between us5 star

One of the greatest books I have read since A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Spoke to my heart as a mother and made me hug my daughter a little tighter!

- Engrossingly sad4 star

Very sad story that pulls at your heart. Believable events. Wonderful descriptions of the lighthouse and the ocean. Sentimental story about children lost and found.

- Light between oceans5 star

Wonderful book written well and a great story

- Beautiful book5 star

This is one of the most beautifully written books I've read! The story is compelling with no easy solutions. The characters are interesting and generally good people trying to live good lives, without grand expectations. The main story is heart wrenching and holds one's attention throughout. I couldn't stop reading, wanting so badly to have things turn out well for all the good people! The imagery paints vivid pictures of life at the early part of the 20th Century in a very remote part of the world, without being obvious or intrusive to the story. I'm anxious to read more from this very talented writer.

- A good read with some tear jerking4 star

A good story that reveals the many layers that each one of us possess and the extremes we can go to. The book was a little predictable, but in a way that it was just enough to be comfortable. I liked it enough that I will be checking out what else this author has to offer.

- Light between the Oceans5 star

I loved this book. It was so well written and was mesmerizing from beginning to end. Such a sweet story.

- Good Read4 star

A little slow to start...but it all comes together beautifully in the end. Really enjoyed it.

- Absolutely wonderful5 star

I was intrigued with the title of this book because of my love of lighthouses and it did not disappoint. It made me laugh and cry. I highly recommend it and anxiously await the next one, Thank you for writing it!

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

Outstanding, compelling.

- The Light Between Oceans5 star

An unexpected, delightful surprise. Captivating. And the tears flowed despite my resolve to resist them.

- Good read5 star

Good book, well written, and very compelling. But a sad tale

- Loved this book!5 star

I absolutely fell in love with this book! I was attracted to the characters immediately. I felt as I was living their story. Throughout the book I laughed and cried. I would highly recommend this book!

- Totally Engrossing5 star

One of the best novels that I have read in a long time. The author created a world which was the backdrop for wonderful characters caught in a moral dilemma.

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