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Light Between Oceans - M L Steadman

(21 Posts)
Craftycat Wed 04-Jan-17 15:28:39

I have just finished writing the discussion points on this book for my Reading Group & would like to recommend it wholeheartedly.
I did not see the film deliberately & now I don't think I want to as this is such a beautifully written book with so many facets to it that a film could not do it justice.
It is perfect for a reading group & I expect a lively discussion.
It is set after WW1 in Australia where a young girl meets a war veteran & moves to a remote island with him as he is the lighthouse keeper.A boat is washed up on their shore with a dead man & a live baby in it.
I am saying no more but this is a very good read & it has stayed with me since I finished it.
It certainly makes you think. A cracking good read.
Spoiler alert below-

You may need tissues - I did!!

shysal Wed 04-Jan-17 15:58:35

I loved this book too, I read it some time ago. I was unable to put it down until it reached a conclusion. I don't think I would want to see the film either. My best read in a long time!

chelseababy Wed 04-Jan-17 16:08:13

I've got the book but not started it yet. Am coming down with a cold so this could be the ideal opportunity!

Luckygirl Wed 04-Jan-17 16:12:27

I too enjoyed this book and have not seen the film - but can see that it would make a good film. This was the review of it that I wrote for local magazine:

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

M.L.Stedman was born in Western Australia, but now lives in London where she worked as a lawyer. As far as I can see The Light Between Oceans is her only book.

Set in the months after the First World War, the novel traces the life of Tom Sherbourne, a much decorated young veteran who chooses to find work as a lighthouse keeper on the uninhabited island of Janus, where he hopes the solitude and strict routine will help him to come to terms with his harrowing memories. Essentially an upright honest man he struggles to reconcile the dilemmas of war, where evil actions result in praise and admiration.

On leave on the mainland he meets and quickly marries Isabel – the headstrong charming and loving daughter of the local school headmaster. Their life on the island is in many ways idyllic – they thrive on the proximity of nature, and settle happily into their strange isolated existence. But this idyll is marred by a series of miscarriages and a stillbirth. Whilst grieving for their lost children they are one day faced with the arrival of a boat washed up on shore and containing a dead man and a live baby. Isabel immediately takes this child to her breast and persuades Tom not to report what happened. Lucy, as they name the baby, rapidly steals her way into both their hearts and she grows up happily on the island with Tom and Isobel as her father and mother. The remote environment of the island, both physically and morally, makes it possible for Isabel to justify their actions, but Tom suffers a daily battle with his conscience, in spite of his deep love for the child and his joy at seeing Isabel thrive as a mother.

Stedman's writing is seductive – we are drawn into agreeing with actions that we know to be unwise and immoral; and faced with conflicting sympathies. It is a story of what happens when good people make bad decisions.

One of the most interesting characters is someone we never meet: a young German man who is persecuted by the Australian locals but is determined not to let this make him bitter:

"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."

This is an exquisite and moving book – I cannot recommend it too highly.

Grannyknot Wed 04-Jan-17 16:18:31

I also enjoyed this engrossing book, great storytelling. I found it interesting how my sympathies with the character Isabel waxed and waned.

It was great that a location map was included in the front of the book, which gave me a sense of the isolation of the lighthouse on Janus island. (This bit from memory, I read the book a while ago).

I shall look forward to the film, I think it would be a great film to see with my daughter.

eGJ Wed 04-Jan-17 16:27:22

Read a review, but never got round to it before. Re-read the reviews and have now ordered it. Sounds a good Book Group choic - will let you know how I get on Craftycat!

mumofmadboys Wed 04-Jan-17 18:31:40

I bought it yesterday and started it today!

merlotgran Wed 04-Jan-17 18:39:27

It's next on my kindle list after When The Children Came Home by Julie Summers which I have just started.

I love having plenty to read during the winter. Curling up with a good book is simply the best.

matson Wed 04-Jan-17 19:23:37

It is a beautiful book which has been turned into a wonderful film.

rosesarered Wed 04-Jan-17 19:36:24

It's an amazing book, very well written.I found my sympathy changing as the book went on, first wanting her to keep the child, then wanting the natural Mother to keep her.
So sad.

gillybob Wed 04-Jan-17 23:00:49

I have just finished reading this book Craftycat and I am so glad I did not see it at the cinema as I would have probably made a complete fool of myself and burst out crying. I loved the book though and can't believe that this is a first novel.

I live very close to a lighthouse and often at night we see the light flashing across the bedroom. I was intrigued by Janus and the "light". I loved the character of Tom he seemed like such a lovely, strong man but went in between loving and disliking Isobel. I can't believe she even considered not telling the truth (re the babies father being already dead). Would highly recommend this book to anyone.

Greenfinch Sat 14-Jan-17 18:11:14

I have not read the book but saw the film yesterday so cannot compare except to say it was the best film I have seen in a long time and DH agreed.It was beautifully done and the acting was superb. Rachel Weiss was very good as Hannah and Lucy Grace was delightful as a child and so well acted. The use of flashbacks was subtle and the geographic wildness was very atmospheric.It was possible to empathise with every character with Isabel being the most difficult possibly.If only that boat had travelled from farther afield !

Rinouchka Sat 14-Jan-17 18:53:13

Thank you for this recommendation. It is on my shelf waiting for me to finish "Golden Hill" by Francis Spufford, winner of the 2016 Costa First Novel Award.

Anya Mon 16-Jan-17 08:20:09

Read this book some time ago. Would recommend.

Cornishgirl777 Mon 16-Jan-17 10:54:22

I wouldn't have chosen to read this book myself,but it was my book group. HOWEVER,I was enthralled by the story. Saw the film recently and it's one of the few times I felt a film version was better than the novel. I think it was the way it captured the sense of space,isolation and rugged beauty.

gillybob Mon 16-Jan-17 11:04:18

I just bought "Golden Hill" with a gift voucher I got for Christmas Rinouchka I can't wait to start it. smile

Reading "The Tobacconist" at the minute. Which I chose because I liked the cover.

I am going to wait for the film to come out DVD Cornishgirl777 as having read the book I just know I would make a complete idiot of myself in the cinema and the crying will start my cough off too.

Cornishgirl777 Mon 16-Jan-17 11:11:06

gillybob......I went on my own and cried...and then I realised I wasn't the only one! No one left quickly at the end,we were trying to compose ourselves!

gillybob Mon 16-Jan-17 11:21:10

I can't wait to see it now Cornishgirl777 as I do love a good weep. (preferably in private). I hope the landscape and the characters look as I imagined when reading the book.

Rosannie Fri 20-Jan-17 11:44:14

I read this book nearly 2 years ago and recommended it to my book club and without exception every one of us thought it was a brilliant read. We're now planning to watch the film version and we hope it lives up to expectations!

NanaandGrampy Fri 20-Jan-17 12:01:44

I'm just reading this book now, it's one I bought my daughter at her request for Christmas. I'm enjoying it immensely and have avoided all spoilers smile

Eloethan Mon 06-Feb-17 17:51:09

I saw the film in December and thought it was very good. I was watching it on a plane, which was embarrassing because although I tried to hold back the tears I just couldn't stop them.