BOOK CLUB

the-light-between-the-oceans

The Light Between Oceans:
A suspenseful, heart-wrenching story

A lighthouse on the solitary island of Janus Rock at the western end of Australia is the setting for this fast-moving and riveting story. Tom Sherbourne, a World War I veteran, and his lovely wife, Isabel, begin their married lives on Janus Rock where Tom tends the lighthouse. The lighthouse guides ships through the treacherous waters where the Great Southern and the Indian oceans meet.

When Tom discovers a small boat washed ashore, his and his wife’s lives change. Slumped over in the boat are a dead man and a baby girl who is still alive. The actions of Tom and Isabel after finding the boat have far-reaching effects with moral dilemmas that affect their family, friends, and the other characters in the novel. The story is filled with love — particularly between Tom and Isabel, Tom and the lighthouse, and in general between mothers and their children.

First-time facilitator Bobbie Peters led an excellent discussion starting with a dialogue about the title. Members thought it epitomized the many pieces of the novel, including danger and safety, darkness and light, and truth and lies. The discussion continued about the detailed descriptions of the ocean, the sky, the landscape of Janus Rock, and the roles the island would play in the main characters’ lives.

The conversation soon turned to Tom, a man who lives by the rules since rules are what got him through the war. Club members talked about why Tom chose not to follow them when the boat washed ashore. A poll of members indicated they felt their own husbands would have bent the rules as Tom did under similar circumstances.

During our meeting, we also discussed Tom’s war experiences, Isabel’s state of mind, and the other characters:  Hannah, Lucy/Grace, Gwen, Septimus, Isabel’s parents, Ralph, and Bluey. They were very sympathetic to all the characters and the Catch-22 situations they faced.

Members remarked that they could not put the book down. It took them on an emotional rollercoaster, but the story did have a message of redemption. They thought the book was very well written and one of the best we had discussed this year. Everyone looks forward to another novel by Stedman.


The Next Meeting

The Bookworm Book Club will meet Nov. 19 to discuss 11/23/63 by Stephen King. Club chair Kathy Porter can be contacted by phone at 352.259.8196 or email at kathymporter@comcast.net.


About the Author

Author M.L. Stedman. Photo by Annette Porter

M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Australia and lives in London. This is her first novel. Stedman is rather closeted about her personal life. She prefers to have the readers focus on the book and their own experiences. She has given only two interviews and declines to answer questions about her age, schooling, family, and her work as a lawyer. She maintains that the book is not autobiographical. However, she does disclose that she was working as a lawyer in 1997 when she decided to take a creative writing course, which lead to the publication of a short story and three novellas. Indeed The Light Between Oceans began as a short story. First published in Britain, the novel was the center of a publisher battle for the manuscript. She received a huge six-figure advance in the U.S. Despite her success, Stedman still does not consider herself to be an author and has not disclosed her plans for another novel.

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