The Light Between Oceans

Thoughts tlbobymls The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, Scribner 2012, 362 pages

For Theta* Book Club

This heart-wrenching story is about love and choices and consequences.

“Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes; so tangled up that you can’t tell which is which  until you’ve shot ’em both, and then it’s too late.”  p.194

A young man who survives WWI finds solace in managing the most remote and isolated lighthouse off the southwest corner of Australia. He does not intend to fall in love and share his isolation but a girl he meets convinces him he can have love and a beautiful future. However. When fate brings them a baby in an atypical fashion, the decisions they make in order to be a family wreak havoc as much as any crazy storm tempest on a remote outpost.

Extremely well-written and thought-provoking. Themes of marriage and commitment, mother-child love, horrors of war, and moral conflict are all explored from many angles.

“The baby stayed at his prayers, locked in some secret conversation with God.”

Want to know more?  Check out these EXCELLENT reviews:  Lisa’s mom’s review at Lit & LifeTi’s review at Book Chatter; and Caribou’s Mom recommends this for readers who like complex characters driven by internal conflict. For many more, try:  Results – Fyrefly’s Book Blogger Review Search Engine.

RATING: Four slices and an extra bite or two of orange chiffon pie.


“Mamma says there’ll be oranges, does she? Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed.” -p.173

wordwedWORDS (Kathy at hosts this meme; just click on the button.)

stodge p.16  “Nor were his lungs turned to glue or his brains to stodge by the gas.” – n. heavy and filling (and usually starchy) food.

toff p.19  “…, some toff’s daughter traveling on her own.” – n. a member of the upper class.

stoush p.25 “… the men who’d come back a bit too fond of a drink or a stoush” – n. fight or argument.

jarrah p.27  “The long, think jetty at Point Partaguese was made from the same jarrah that rattled along it in rail carriages to be hauled onto ships.” – n. A eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus marginata) native to western Australia, yielding durable timber.

astragal p.38  “the light room was interrupted only by the crisscrossing of astragals that kept the panes in place.” – n. a convex molding or wooden strip across a surface or separating panels, typically semicircular in cross-section.

nous p.39  “All you need is patience and a bit of nous.” – n. the mind or intellect.

skua p.44  “as smoothly as a skua gliding on currents of air.” – n. a large brownish predatory seabird related to the gulls.

plimsolls p.69  “and goes without shoes whenever she can, but on the cliffs she endures plimsolls to protect her soles from the granite.” – n. BRIT. a light rubber-soled canvas shoe, worn esp. for sports.
scion p.113  “The simple fact was that, sure as a graft will take and fuse on a a rosebush, the root stock of Isabel’s motherhood – her every drive and instinct, left raw and exposed by the recent stillbirth – had grafted seamlessly to the scion, the baby which needed mothering.” – n. a young shoot or twig of a plant.
effluction p.122  “as though the Lights were not impressed by something as prosaic as the mere effluction of time.”  NOT FOUND as spelled, but did find EFFLUXION – passing of time, legal term.

cadged p.155  “said his prayers, and cadged reading and writing lessons from the Paster’s wife on Saturdays.” – n. BRIT, ask for or obtain something to which one is not strictly entitled.

dugite p.155  “his cherished wife was bitten just above the ankle of her pale kid boot by a dugite” – n. a common name for the highly venomous snake, Pseudonaja affinis, an Australian species.

goanna p.249  “The ones you need to worry about least are the fast-mover, who survive by disappearing:  the racehorse goanna, the parrots they call “twenty-eights”, the brush-tailed possum.”  – n. Australian term for monitor or iguana.

furphy p.274   “All the stories about being from Sydney – that could all be a furphy.” – n. A furphy, also commonly spelled furfie, is Australian slang for a rumour, or an erroneous or improbable story.

gobbets p.289  “Townsfolk read the newspapers to extract what gobbets they could, but things had gone quiet of late.” – n. a piece or lump of flesh, food or other matter.

Coolgardie p.320  “Fathers allow themselves a beer from the Coolgardie safe” – n.  cupboard with wetted hessian walls for keeping food cool: used especially in Australia.

cark p.336  “they get a bit dark with us if the prisoners cark it before trial.” – v. to die. Of course, I guessed that but I always like to look up words and it wasn’t in the Kindle dictionary. Sure enough, the term is considered Australian slang.



* KAΘ Providence Alumnae Chapter


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32 thoughts on “The Light Between Oceans

  1. That’s a lot of vocabulary words! ;) The holds list for this book (and the audio) at the library is still ginormous. Almost broke down and bought the audio, but then thought of the several I’ve bought and haven’t listened to yet. I will definitely get to this one eventually!

    1. I know that many of the words were easy to ‘know’ by context but it is always interesting when the dictionary says ‘not available’ – then I assume it is a cultural/country thing.

  2. I thought this was a wonderful book…heart-wrenching and heart-warming. It’s one of the few books I couldn’t put down but at times had difficulty continuing to read at times.
    I loved this post of yours!

  3. I didn’t realize vocab words were at the end of your post…a wondrous list of words…fantastic! It’s a tough decision but I think my favorites are furphy and toff!

    By the way ~ I’ve never had orange chiffon pie, is it good? I like pie!

    1. I don’t always add vocab to my reviews but I do like to keep track. EBooks make it so easy to do; sometimes I make status updates in goodreads with new-to-me words.

  4. Although I know that plimsolls are a kind of shoe, I have never broken myself of the habit of thinking they are a kind of umbrella. They sound like an umbrella!

    1. It’s the little things, right? I have been known to pick up a book for odd reasons. Like a comic that was endorsed by JennysBooks because it has a lot of purple in it.

  5. I love your words (I originally read this on my phone, for a communication tool it really doesn’t like writing comments! Anyway…) Coolgardie is a gold-mining town in Western Australia. It’s been overshadowed by its neighbour Kalgoorlie (which also swallowed up the town of Boulder). Coolgardie was bigger than Kal in the day – the streets are incredibly wide! Have been there a few times.

    We had a dugite in our house once – in surburban Perth, Australia! Father killed it with a fire poker. As for racehorse goannas, they like Cheezels (do you have them? Like Cheetos, but ring shaped) – they do run fast! We have twenty-eights around Perth too, there are several different races in Australia, but the most well known in the Port Lincoln Ringneck (strangely enough, found in Port Lincoln).

    As for jarrah, well it’s pretty popular as furniture here (but bloody heavy – four men for the parents’ dining room table!)

    Here ends the Aussie lesson. Can you tell I love my country lol?

    I had better read this book, but not when I’m away for fear I’ll get homesick!

    1. LOVE IT! I appreciate you adding the Australian spin to my definitions – makes it come even more alive. and no, I don’t think we do have Cheezels.
      Where are you? you are getting homesick, that means you are off the continent?

  6. I’ve had this on my radar for a while – it sounds like a very emotional story and for some reason the cover and the title make me think that it must be written in very pretty language (not sure how the two of those project lyricism, but they do).

    1. Oh, I wouldn’t quite put it in the pretty-prose category but you aren’t really asking the right person for that, I don’t think. The writing is good, descriptive but not overly.

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