In M.L. Stedman's debut novel, the miraculous arrival of a child into the life of a barren couple, former WWI soldier Tom Sherbourne and his young wife Isabel, delivers profound love but also the seeds of destruction to their isolated lighthouse.
In The Light Between Oceans, a stoic, fiercely principled, rather solitary man, recently returned from serving in World War I, meets an effervescent young woman who desperately wants to be a mother ... She has just buried their dead child when another baby literally washes up on their shore, accompanied by her lifeless father ...is at once elegantly rendered and emotionally manipulative. Following the involved parties — including the baby girl, who grows into a precocious toddler — through a string of tormenting and sometimes predictable twists, you may suspect that the author practices heart-wrenching as a kind of craft ... The relationship between Tom and Isabel, in particular, is beautifully drawn ... By letting neither her readers nor her characters off the hook easily, Stedman creates a bond that makes her book tough to shake off.
The Light Between Oceans is a story about guilt, honesty, justice, and terrible secrets. And a good man’s inability to keep those secrets. Tom Sherbourne is driven by honor and duty, and he is willing to sacrifice himself for his wife’s choices ...story line vacillates like the tides; we float along with Tom and Isabel as they experience the euphoria and despair of each pregnancy and ensuing loss ...feeling swept away by the story, too-convenient plot twists jarred me back to my here-and-now ... Her writing is sound, if sometimes uninspiring, but every so often she throws out a gorgeous line that you have to stop and read twice to appreciate... First-time novelist Stedman did what all good writers should do: She got her readers emotionally invested in her story.
One well-meaning lie begets another so many times in The Light Between Oceans that right and wrong become hopelessly confused ... But for a shore leave that happens every two years and occasional supply boats, Tom and Isabel Sherbourne are utterly disconnected from the cloth of community life ... The Sherbournes deal with the kind of seclusion it should be difficult to imagine. But Stedman brings this couple and their lives nearly 100 years ago to life so vividly that it's as if you're walking the stairs of the lighthouse with them ... Following what happens is sort of like watching a particularly beautiful train wreck. You won't be able to stop reading all the way to the heartbreaking, ultimately satisfying conclusion.