Monday, January 28, 2013

Audio Book Review: The Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Stedman

A unique premise, unique setting, and vivid characterizations all make reading The Light Between Oceans a wonderful experience. Or, maybe I should say "listening to," since I did listen to most of the book.

I think if there's a criticism of The Light Between Oceans, it will be the slow pacing, especially at the beginning. I'm very patient when I listen to audio books, so I enjoyed all the descriptions of the main character, Tom, his involvement in WWI, and his eventual employment at a light house off the coast of Australia. Being a "keeper of the light" in the early 1900s was certainly a difficult, but interesting career. Talk about lonely! These guys received supplies every three months or so, and got shore leave only every three years! It takes a unique person to sign up for this, and  that is why Tom, with his horrible experiences in the war, was well suited.

The story of how he meets his eventual wife, Izzy, is heartwarming, and their life together on the island is near perfect. All except for the fact that Lizzy has three miscarriages, which brings us to the heart of the story. When a small boat washes ashore with a dead man and a little crying baby, Tom and Izzy's lives change. Against Tom's better judgement and overshadowed by Lizzy's heartbreak over recently losing her third baby, they decide to keep this child and raise it as their own.

They are great parents, and Lucy, as they name the baby, lives a happy childhood. But as readers, we know this is a situation that simply cannot end well. And it really doesn't. And my heart just broke for everyone involved. For much of The Light Between Oceans I just couldn't figure out how ANYONE was ever going to be happy, and I didn't feel that any of them deserved to be punished, even though crimes were committed.

The resolution is as hopeful as it can be, and the ending brought lots of tears to my eyes (and I don't cry easily.) The journey to that resolution is filled with twists and turns, and Stedman does a great job of keeping you guessing at the outcome.

I had some difficulty with my download of the CDs so I had to request the printed form of The Light Between Oceans so I could read part of it. Then, at the end, I couldn't WAIT to find out what was going to happen, so I read the last 70 pages. My point is, the reading experience was just as fulfilling as listening, so I can recommend either way to enjoy The Light Between Oceans.

The narrator, Noah Taylor, does lovely accents for the characters, and for the most part I enjoyed the audio. However, he has such a dynamic range that the quiet parts were too soft. I had to turn it way up, and still paired with the accent, I sometimes couldn't catch what he was saying. I tried different equalizer settings, but nothing seemed to help.

I would highly recommend The Light Between Oceans to adult readers. I think mature teens might be interested too, although I would hand pick who I offer this to.

Published by Scribner, July 31, 2012
Copy obtained from the library (both audio and print)
343 pages

Rating: 5/5

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  1. Great review, Annette! I've been eyeing this one for my next adult read as it's been popular at my library. Thanks for the heads up on the slow moving first half of the book. I may have to see if my library owns an audiobook copy of it.

  2. Wow, great review! I am sufficiently intrigued. Can't wait to check this one out.

  3. Hey Annette! I actually just finished this one on Saturday for my book club! I listened to the audio version on my phone via so I was able to slow down the narrator speed to a level that allowed me to understand him and still enjoy the story.
    We all felt that the pacing was slower in the beginning but we also thought that it served the story because when they are out on the island everything stops for them. That isolation would have been harder to understand if there was always something happening.
    Personally, I did not like Izzy. I thought she was so creepy. I did feel bad for her but I couldn't help it. She just gave me chills!
    Loved your review!

    1. I actually agree about the slow pace, I think it was deliberate and served a purpose. But I just wanted to warn that some people will not be happy with that part. I've never lost a baby like Izzy, let alone three, but I've had family members go through this, and I have a lot of sympathy for her -- especially being all alone during that time.

  4. I work for Blue Willow Bookshop and everyone at the store loved this one! I even had it at some point but I gave it away before I could read it. Maybe I'll get the audio for a long road trip. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  5. This was amongst my very favourite reads of last year. So glad that you enjoyed it too.


  6. Love you review of this one. And you captured my thoughts exactly - "My heart broke for everyone involved". I cried so hard when I read this one-for Lucy, for Tom and Isabelle, for Lucy's birth parents, for Lucy's grandparents. One of my favorite books from 2012 and definitely a bitter sweet one.

  7. I have been meaning to read this since it first came out in Australia which was months ago. Must try to fit it into the reading schedule!

    Marlene Detierro (Gun Parts)


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