The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Book Review)


Publisher: Pocket Books
Page Count
: 408

This is only my second book this month, because I thought I’d stay with adult fiction while I am at it … but it takes forever? It doesn’t even really have something to do with the stories. I don’t feel like the writing is THAT much different either, but still, it takes me about three times as long to finish those books.

Starting this book, I knew exactly what I was getting into. I might have even expected for it to be MORE tragic than it was. The blurb says it all, there is no good solution as to how Tom and Izzy could have handled this, unless, of course, they hadn’t gotten into the mess in the first place. I had a lot of doubts and questions about them when they kept the baby. Why wouldn’t they report it and then adopt the kid if there was no mother? Why didn’t they consider adopting in general? But as soon as those thoughts came to mind, they were answered with some semblance of reason. I want to say straight up that I do not condone what they did at all, but by the end of the book, you kind of understand them?

The Light Between Oceans has a quiet yet impacting way of telling this particular story. Years pass at a time, nothing happens at all, while everything monumental is happening. I know that sounds contradictory, but so much of everything went on inside people, while they carried on (or at least tried to as best as they could) their regular lives. You get so many perspectives, you hear everyone’s side and it’s a terrifying dilemma. My main problem with the book was that I did not like any of the characters. However, that didn’t stop me from feeling for them. My heart was torn in several directions, because I wouldn’t know what to do either. Some things can’t be fixed and people just have to live with the consequences of their actions.

The whole thing is set in Australia of the 1920s and that was an interesting era to choose. It makes sense of course, everything is heightened with the lack of communication, the remoteness, the slow passing of time. I never knew how much importance and trust was put upon lightkeepers, somehow lighthouses just always had a much more romantic place in my heart rather than their actual purposeful one. Somehow the book just started to click for me when the backstory of the baby’s biological father was a bit more explored. The man was from Austria, but generally perceived as a German (feel ya there man) and at that time, that was one of the worst things to be. People humiliated and excluded him at every turn, simply for having that heritage. (They wouldn’t even let him buy books!!! Because German poems were the devil’s work of course …) They blamed him for the war, never mind that he was neither part of it nor present at that time. All through that he stayed polite and optimistic … So, I guess I related the most to the one person that played the smallest role in the book. Maybe the rest of the story and the positions were a bit too grown up for me to fully connect with, even though my mind could rationally see why it was heartbreaking. But being a person who gets asked if her grandparents were Nazis and then having to carry on a normal conversation as if that hadn’t just been one of the rudest things to ask, I guess that just made me relate to him the most.

Anyway, to conclude this review, I just want to say that the movie came out this year, starring Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in the leading roles. They are two of my favourite actors, so I would like to give the movie a try, hoping they’ll make the characters more likable.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I had trouble liking the characters, but I could still feel with them in their dilemma.


Have you read this book? Have you seen the movie? Let me know your thoughts!

17 thoughts on “The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Book Review)

  1. Lovely review, Kat! I am glad to hear that despite not falling for the characters, you managed to feel a little bit for them and their dilemma. The setting of the book also sounds quite interesting. I’m not much of a fan of historical books, but I’d be intrigued about that one I think 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you. I am not much of a fan of historical books either. Victorian settings in Fantasy books I can sort of roll with, but mostly I prefer the here and now. This time it worked alright though. It enhanced the story.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I actually don’t like them, it makes the story drag a bit more than necessary for me, but I was glad I could take something away from it. For a long time I was worried I would never finish the book.


  2. I read this in September and have to say I liked it more than I thought I would. I didn’t agree with the characters motivations but understood them. I also really enjoyed the setting. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been meaning to check this novel out, and the movie made me want to get myself a copy even faster (I mean.. Fassbender and Vikander????? Count me in.++ they’re in a IRL relationship since that movie). Great review, and man.. I do feel bad that people are so rude towards you regarding your background. Didn’t even think they’d have the balls to ask such things.

    – Lashaan


    • Oh, I KNOW they are dating! They are one of my favourite couples, favourite people, favourite everything!
      I honestly didn’t expect people to ask something like that either. Especially not randomly in conversation. What was I even supposed to answer to that? That person explained it was just a thing of curiosity, but it still hurt. All of it has happened 3 generations ago, why do I have to be defined by it now?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope you get around to seeing the movie because they do a stella job of it! I’m sad for you that you didn’t really click with any of the characters (although, Isabel is hard to do so with) because UGH I love this story so much! But I’m probably biased seeing as I’m from WA haha.

    I do think what makes it such an interesting read is how compelling it is to read the story through even though you’re like, gee I’d never do that. There’s certain points in the book, for me at least, where I think Stedman successfully makes the reader go, hm, yes okay I see why you made X decision. Bless Tom though, such a conflicted but beautiful character!


    • If you have a connection to the place, I can see how that would also connect you to the story more! Tom … I think he was a good person at heart, way too understand of his wife, but also a coward when he knew something was wrong and didn’t act. I got why they did the things they did in the end, but sometimes I was really just shaking my head at them.

      Liked by 1 person

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