Detail Page Book Jacket

The Light Between Oceans

M. L. Stedman

Average Rating:


A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man and a crying baby.

Buy the Book
Buy the eBook

Book Synopsis

A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.


Richard's Review

What an opener from this Australian writer. First-time novels don’t come much more assured, readable, and utterly compelling in their storyline than this one.

M L Stedman has created an extraordinarily intense world of foaming, crashing sea and diamond-bright light, be it from the eponymous lighthouse that glows and pulses where two great oceans meet, or the sub-tropical skies above them.

quoteassured, readable, and utterly compellingquote

The themes of this irresistible tale are as fundamental as the elements themselves. The sometimes paper-thin difference between right and wrong; how tragedy and grief can lead to temptation - in particular, the temptation to see a redeeming stroke of fate as something more; something meant... perhaps even a miracle.

Stedman’s tale begins in April 1926. It is not spring, though, but autumn. The Light Between Oceans is set in the southern hemisphere, off the coast of south-west Australia.

Janus Rock is a lonely speck of land far out to sea. And it lies in treacherous waters; dangerous rocks lurk just below the surface. Which is why the tiny island is home to a magnificent lighthouse, built in the 19th century after a series of fatal wrecks.

Ninety years ago, lighthouses were far from being the automatic, high-tech installations of today. They had to be continuously manned and maintained. Janus Rock is seen as a hard posting, its keeper marooned there for months at a time.

It will be First World War hero Tom Sherbourne’s new home; he is the next keeper of the light.

The young man doesn’t know it, but his decision to go there will have devastating consequences – and not just for him.

Follow Richard on Twitter


Judy's Review

Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia from the horrors of the trenches in France. He is a reluctant hero, desperately searching for some kind of peace and tranquillity after his gruesome ordeal on the other side of the world.

quotea reluctant hero, desperately searching for some kind of peacequote

He joins the lighthouse service, and after short-lived postings he sees the opportunity for solitude and loneliness that his soul craves – the job of full-time keeper on Janus Rock. The island was the last piece of Australia Tom saw when his troopship sailed for Europe; he has a powerful sense that it is his destiny to return there.

But while waiting impatiently in the port of Partageuse for transport to the island, Tom meets Isobel Graysmark, beautiful young daughter of the town’s headmaster. The couple are strongly attracted, and write increasingly affectionate letters to each other when Tom finally makes it to his island.

Inevitably the couple marry during Tom’s shore leave and an enthusiastic Isobel – ‘Izzy’ – insists on embarking on a new life on Janus Rock with her husband. She loves the wild beauty of the place and the couple are idyllically happy there, especially when Izzy falls pregnant.

She loses the baby. Grief and despair follow... until the April morning when a boat washes ashore on Janus. Inside is the body of a dead man – and a mewling baby.

Tom tells Izzy that he must report the matter at once. But she begs him not to; Tom can see that nursing the tiny child is washing away his wife’s grief and brings her a radiant happiness.

For now. Tom and Izzy have followed their hearts – but rules have been broken. A terrible price must be paid.

  • Sarah

    I loved, loved, loved this book. I saw a review of it in a magazine months ago and had been watching out for it ever since and it more than lived up to my hopes. A
    wonderful book. Two wonderfully formed
    characters in Tom and Isobel, who are so ordinarily good and kind and only
    want the best for their family, that it impossilbe not to feel sorry for them
    when their lies are in danger of being exposed. Read this book in just 2 sittings. Beautifully written, believable, and a
    final chapter that had me in tears

    • Kimba2013

      I agree with Sarah, and Richard and Judy are right, this book is beautifully written. I thought
      the plot was quite original, I certainly haven’t read anything similar
      before. The way the author describes the setting is fantastic and the
      tension really builds and builds until you know something awful is going
      to happen. I’ve always been a fan of books about the after-effects of
      war and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Great choice Richard and

  • http://beckywilloughby.blogspot.com LakesSingleMum

    this sounds like an amazing book I must have a look

  • http://www.facebook.com/janet.lambert.beady Janet Lambert

    I also loved this book – here’s my review I wrote when I finished it: Wow – WOW and did I mention WOWWW, it’s quite a while since a book blew me away quite as much as this emotional and stunningly beautiful book did it was gorgeous and I loved it
    I finished it last night to floods of tears, I actually had to put it to one side when I began reading it on my recent holidays as tear reddened, puffed up eyes aren’t really the look you want when you wake up on a morning and I found some of it emotionally harrowing -in parts I’d just suddenly hiccup and find I was blubbing like a baby

    It is however the most beautifully written story about love and loss and the consequences of taking a wrong or right decision.

    It tells the story of Tom, war veteran and lighthouse keeper, how he meets the love of his life Isabel and takes her to live in possibly the remotest and wildest location possible for a newly married couple to set up new home together. At first they enjoy their isolation but when Izzy’s longing to give Tom the child which would complete their little family is denied her, their relationship is put under some strain.

    Until one day a boat washes up carrying a dead body and a surviving baby and a decision is made which shapes lives and alters the course of events in unforeseen ways.

    The setting in a lighthouse of the coast of Australia in the 1930s was unique and fascinating, the characters immaculately constructed and the prose evocative, poignant and delicious. So good I can’t recommend it highly enough and would happily give it 6/5 were that possible.

    • Jane Lawson

      Thank you for your generous marking! I’ll let M L Stedman know, and she’ll be very pleased! The author prefers not to go online, so i’m here in her stead, but she is reading everything you write and i’m happy to pass on any comments.

      • Sarah

        Please please please tell M L Steadman what an inspiring and exceptionally beautiful story I thought this was. I am sure they have heard it often since this book was published and i have NEVER contacted any author before after a good book. But this story after reading it could not go unremarked upon. It was the best book I have read and moved me so much. The author has an amazing gift.

        • Jane Lawson

          Thx for posting up! I’ll certainly let the author (Margot) know how touched you were by her book, and that you haven’t actually ever contacted an author about their book. She’ll be very touched, too. Keep spreading the light!

      • mary

        I am an avid reader and came across this by chance, I must say tis is one of the best books I have ever read, could not put it down, cried like a babe at the end, have recommeded it to friends and family, even the library are putting it out now as one of thier top books abeautiful and inspirng story, please let us have more.

  • Stacey

    After reading the synopsis this is next on my list!!

  • A Parker

    This is such a wonderful story and so stunningly read I so so enjoyed it and the use of language and prose was so lovely. It will stay with me for a long time. Would highly recommend this book to others

  • Helen Prisley

    Can’t wait to read this but anticipating a heart squeezer.love books that look at grey areas..right wrong.how grief can change us and our own needs can overcome others.looking forward to it and sea sisters

    • Jane Lawson

      A heart-squeezer is a brilliant expression! May i use that from now on with my colleagues here at the publishing house?? They will all know exactly what i mean when i am describing a book!

  • Faysie

    Loved this book read it on holiday in Pefkos. Got sunburnt couldn’t put it down!

    • Jane Lawson

      Ouch! But sun burn in a good cause! :)

  • Kate

    This was one of the best written books I have read recently, there was a real beauty and romanticism to the language and prose. The book had me hooked not because of the fast pace story telling but more for the emotional connection I had made with the characters. I didn’t always agree with decisions made by some if the characters but unusually I didn’t care. I was also pleased that the ending was not cliche but still contained some of the sadness and heartache which is fundamental to the book. The writer makes you ponder circumstance and perspective beautifully. I will never look at a lighthouse the same way. Shall be recomending this book to all. Thanks Richard and Judy this book was a delight one I feel richer for reading.

  • Kayjay

    I could not put this book down, intelligently written and a gripping storyline.

  • Emma Thompson

    Easily one of the most compelling and heart-breaking books I have ever read. Steadman really captured my heart and the book touched my soul! I finished this book two weeks ago and still havent moved on to another as i just cant leave the world of Janus behind.

  • Kris

    This was a cleverly crafted story – I was gripped from the beginning – the story is credible, believable and achingly sad, but I couldn’t put the book down as the reader is swept along with the characters. A truly memorable book – to be highly recommended for such overwhelming emotions brought out in the reader.

  • Carol powe

    Enjoyed this book very much, definitely worth reading

  • Sue Hall

    I also loved this book ,I’m not really a reader but when I do find a good book I cannot put it down ,I down loaded it on my kindle for my holidays but I read it before I went,I’m glad I did because I just sobbed like a little baby at the end, A lovely book and an easy read . I definitely recommend it ….

  • Peta

    One of my year 9 male students told me about it. Loved it to pieces, was forming pictures in my mind as I read it every step of the way. Thank you, congratulations and looking on the shelves regularly for the next book. What a great author…laughter and tears all in one volume. Had to finish in two sessions but did’t want it to end.

    • Peta

      Didn’t is the correct spelling sorry !

  • Christine

    What a fantastic book! Having spent 10 long years wishing for a baby, and suffering an eptopic pregnancy and many dissapointments , I felt Isoble’s pain almost personally. I completely understood her actions and even agreed with her. The author had me keep changing my mind about what was right and what was wrong. The story is beautifully told, and although I was actually crying in public ! , it was never sentimental. At times I wanted Izzy to have the baby, then I wanted her to do the right thing. Then I understood Tom and then I was angry with him. The story was written so richly that it is easy to forget that it is in fact not real! The best book I read in a decade

  • Janki

    I`ve just turned the last page of this book and am feeling lost and bereft. I usually read before I go to sleep but I found myself reading The Light Between Oceans at every possible opportunity. It is such a sad story, poor Isabel, poor Lucy, poor Hannah and poor poor Tom struggling to tell right from wrong in the middle of it all, but there are moments of joy and richness too. But I would have preferred a different conclusion, I so wanted, if only for Lucy`s sake, that Izzy and Tom could have become family friends to Hannah making the little girl`s passage so much easier, and soothing Izzy`s breaking heart, but then I love a happy ending and I don`t think that`s being too unrealistic. Thank you ML Stedman for an emotional and sensitive story.

  • Sarah

    This is one of the most beautiful stories I have truely ever read. I was on holiday in France when reading it and literally felt emotionally changed after reading this. The author has a true gift for creating lives and characters. I have recommended this book to everyone who appreciates good writing. I sobbed during the start, middle and end. I felt I could see the perspective of all the characters which is hard for an author to get their reader to do. This story will stay with me a long time.

  • Sarah

    OMG … i have just finished this book on holiday having not not been able to put it down – what an amazingly sad story – i loved Tom, Isabel and Lucy and found their story soooo sad, i blubbered my way through the last few pages , a definite summer read. It will not disappoint and is definitely a “heart squeezer’!!

  • Isabel

    What a wonderful story! I was so emotionally connected to the characters in this book and couldn’t help crying as I read the last chapter. Congratulations to ML Stedman on her first book, the first of many, I hope!
    I live in Western Australia and could picture in my mind all of the places mentioned, from the imaginary to the real. I will thoroughly recommend this book to my family and friends, one of the best that I have read in a long time. Thank you.

  • Christine

    What a story! I truly found it difficult to put down. It tested so many emotions and I too was pleased that the ending was not predictable,still sad though.
    I look forward to your next novel. Well done!!

  • Melissa Embleton

    I have also just finished this amazing book. I used to set my alarm for 6am just so I could get an hour of reading in in the morning before work. I don’t know what I am going to do without it, I can quite see it would be a great film the descriptions were so clear and vivid I had a clear picture in my mind of all the people and places.
    Beautifully written and a fascinating exploration into an unusual moral dilemma.
    Please tell the author to hurry up with her next book we are desperate out here… !

  • mayceegreene

    Great review! I have this book here on my shelves to read, and will hopefully get to it soon. All the positive reviews are making me keen to read it sooner rather than later:)

    Maycee (Rogue River Fishing)


    Hi, just to say I have read The light between the oceans. It is a very moving story. You do get caught up in the lives of the lighthouse keeper and his wife, thankyou for such a great story. one of the best books I have read.


    Great Read!! I do think the author would like to know about a small error I found: She has named Ralph’s wife Hilda yet Ralph says,
    “It took all Freda’s charms to persuade him to come, and my wife doesn’t use her charms freely!” (page 77/location 1140)

  • helen

    haunting. loved the way the theme of the sea was threaded through the book and almost became one of the characters. How many of us would have handed over that baby had we gone through the experiences of Tom and Isabel?

  • Mary

    Mawkish is the word I’d use for this book, and contrived.
    Pick all the heart churning things you can think of and then find a magical setting, put it all together and churn.
    It would have been even more effective if maybe the child had some sort of disability…
    An appealing rather than an ugly one.
    It saddens me that so many people have fallen for this manipulative rubbish.

  • Carolmgw

    Only a reader knows the grief of a good book almost finished. This was a beautiful book with all the flaws of real life. Raw and emotional I don’t remember the last time a book took me to real tears. Thankyou.

  • Sue Broomhead

    By far the best book I have read in a very long time and would place it next to my all time favourite read Alone in Berlin. Amazing does not even touch this book. A first novel too…..hope it’s not e last but actually……..how on earth to you follow that!!! But please do try!!

  • Melissa Christensen

    I read this for a book club I am part of for the summer. I have to admit, the beginning was slow for me. I couldn’t get past some of the descriptions..seemed a little contrived. However, when the story developed, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. I enjoy books that challenge ethics and morality because it allows you to reflect on your own personal values. I know people will say “Oh you don’t understand, you don’t have kids, you don’t how it feels” but I am sorry. Isabel was out of her mind and I could not fathom actually meeting the birth mother and DOING NOTHING to put things right. There were parts of the book where I would literally talk out loud to the characters, furious at their dialogue and their actions. How could Isabel even THINK about blaming it on Tom and calling it a betrayal?? I mean, this is the person you love and he was trying to do the right thing from day one. I was so mad at that part, how she was so quick to throw him under the bus and keep up the facade that she was her mother and even go as far as to refer to Grace as her daughter– even in the supermarket when she met up with Hannah and Grace. I mean, what is wrong with this woman??? The book was certainly emotionally gripping and I was very satisfied with the ending. I know there wouldn’t be a story if things were different but I would hope that if this happened in real life, people would check with the mainlands and then go about the adoption process if the baby was an orphan. I could just never do that to another woman–I don’t care how much I loved that little baby. Purposely keeping a mother from her child when you see the anguish with your own two eyes is selfish and cruel. And Isabel loved to use those words to describe Tom which was really a kicker. Overall, I thought the book was very good and I am excited to discuss in book club tomorrow.

  • Jane

    I have just finished this book while on holiday and I was in tears on the sunbed. It’s an original dilemma and its interesting to see how the characters defend their decisions. I read at the beginning of the book that dream works has the rights to turn this into a film and I was wondering if this was going to be the case?

  • Simone

    Hello to all of you, I was wondering whether TLBO is based on a true story. Does anyone know if there are true elements involved? My final exam is about TLBO and right know I am in the middle of my preparations.
    kind regards, Simone

  • Sarah

    Have just finished the book and have held off looking for any info on here until then. I loved the story and wonder if there is any element of truth in there? Has something similar ever happened or did Margot Stedman make up the whole thing?