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The Light between Oceans:

A Novel

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A New York Times Bestseller

A 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction Nominee

A Pop Sugar Pick for 9 Audiobooks to Listen to on Your Next Long Road Trip

A USA Today Bestseller

A Los Angeles Times Bestseller

An NPR Bestseller

A San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller

Selected for the August 2012 Indie Next List

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2012

A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2012

A Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Winner of the 2012 GoodReads Readers’ Choice for Historical Ficiton

A BookPage Best Book of 2012

Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, August 2012

In 1918, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the Western coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes only four times a year and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Three years later, after two miscarriages and one still birth, the grieving Isabel is tending the grave of her newly lost infant when she hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up on shore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the dead man and the infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim the child as their own and name her Lucy, but a rift begins to grow between them. When Lucy is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world—and one of them is desperate to find her lost baby.

In this mesmerizing, beautifully written novel, M. L. Stedman’s portrayal of time and place is exquisite. Her extraordinarily compelling characters, still trying to make sense of life in the wake of so much death in the war, are imperfect people seeking to find their north star in a world of incomprehensible complexity.

Editorial Reviews

“An extraordinary and heartrending book about good people, tragic decisions, and the beauty found in each of them.”

Markus Zusak, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book Thief

“M. L. Stedman, a spectacularly sure storyteller, swept me to a remote island nearly a century ago, where a lighthouse keeper and his wife make a choice that shatters many lives, including their own. This is a novel in which justice for one character means another’s tragic loss, and we care desperately for both. Reading The Light between Oceans is a total-immersion experience, extraordinarily moving.”

Monica Ali, New York Times bestselling author

“Irresistible…seductive…A high-concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page.”

O, The Oprah Magazine 

“M.L. Stedman’s The Light between Oceans is a beautiful novel about isolation and courage in the face of enormous loss. It gets into your heart stealthily, until you stop hoping the characters will make different choices and find you can only watch, transfixed, as every conceivable choice becomes an impossible one. I couldn’t look away from the page and then I couldn’t see it, through tears. It’s a stunning debut.”

Maile Meloy, award-winning author

“This heartbreaking debut from M. L. Stedman is a gem of a book that you’ll have trouble putting down.”

Good Housekeeping

“[Stedman sets] the stage beautifully to allow for a heart-wrenching moral dilemma to play out…Most impressive is the subtle yet profound maturation of Isabel and Tom as characters.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters and gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light between Oceans.”

Amazon.com, editorial review (Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012)

“Haunting…Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.”

Booklist (starred review)

“This fine, suspenseful debut explores desperation, morality, and loss, and considers the damaging ways in which we store our private sorrows, and the consequences of such terrible secrets.”

Martha Stewart Whole Living

“Moral dilemmas don’t come more exquisite than the one around which Australian novelist Stedman constructs her debut.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Author Biography

M. L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. Her debut novel, The Light between Oceans, was met with high critical acclaim.

Reader Biography

Noah Taylor is an English-born Australian actor known for his roles in Shine, Almost Famous, Laura Croft: Tomb Raider, Vanilla Sky and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He currently lives in Brighton, England, with his wife, Dionne Harris.

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  • Author Biography
  • Reader Biography
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