Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

NaBloPoMo 4: The Light Between Oceans: Book Review

NaBloPoMo_November_smallREAding Two challenges with one entry!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans

I posted about oceans a bit ago, and that post has gotten a lot of attention: Two Oceans Meet in Gulf of Alaska. Not! So when a friend gave me Stedman’s book recently, and it talks about two oceans meeting in the southern part of our world.

The story’s beginnings…001

A lighthouse keeper and his wife live on a square-mile island, Janus Rock, barely a dot on the map in the shoals a hundred miles off the southwest coast of Western Australia. The nearest land community is the remote Point Partageuse on the coast between Perth and Albany, at a spot where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern (Antarctic) Ocean.

As far as lighthouse posts go, this one is very unpopular and considered to be a hardship post. It’s only link to Point Partageuse is the Windward Spirit, a store boat that brings provisions four times a year. Otherwise, Janus Rock “dangled off the edge of the cloth like a loose button that might easily plummet to Antarctica,” a day-long boat trip away from the mainland.

“From this side of the island, there was only vastness, all the way to Africa. Here, the Indian Ocean washed into the Great Southern Ocean and together they stretched like an edgeless carpet below the cliffs. On days like this it seemed so solid she had the impression she could walk to Madagascar in a journey of blue upon blue.”

Map of Australia from the book The Light Between Oceans, a novel by M.L. Stedman. Look in the southwest corner for the (fictional) Point Partageuse.

Map of Australia from the book The Light Between Oceans, a novel by M.L. Stedman. Look in the southwest corner for the (fictional) Point Partageuse.

“The other side of the island looked back, fretful, toward the Australian mainland nearly a hundred miles away not quite belonging to the land, yet not quite free of it, the highest of a string of under-sea mountains that rose from the ocean floor like teeth along a jagged jaw bone, waiting to devour any innocent ships in their final dash for harbor.”

“The Southern Ocean is treacherous enough on the surface, let alone having that under-sea ridge.”

Lighthouse at Tasmania

Lighthouse at Tasmania (with an example of the undersea ridge with its jagged teeth waiting to devour innocent ships that wander too close)

It is this ocean setting that forms the stage for M. L. Stedman’s novel, The Light Between Oceans. 

1926. Isabel Sherwood, the grieving lighthouse keeper’s wife, tends the tiny grave of her recently miscarried child. She prays the Lord’s Prayer as she works  “…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”   She hears unexpected sounds in the vast emptiness of her rocky island.

“For just a moment, her mind tricked her into hearing an infant’s cry.
She heard the cry again, louder this time on the early-morning breeze. Impossible.”

From the lighthouse, Tom Sherwood sees a dinghy beached in the cove. Both Tom and Isabel race to the cover only to find the dingy, a dead man, and a crying baby wrapped in a lavender sweater sheltered in bow of the boat.

Tom knows his responsibilities and gets ready to send a message to the mainland authorities to report the arrival of the dead man and a baby. But temptation lingers in the air.

“‘Not yet!’ Isabel said as she touched the baby’s fingers.”

What follows is a tragic tale of right and wrong decisions and their long-term consequences.  It’s a tale of human emotional suffering that outweighs a lifetime of moral responsibility. This book is gripping and heartbreaking. Once you start reading it, you will not want to put it down. You will have many questions when you finish, but you will like the book and its author.

You can read comments on The LIght Between Oceans here: Goodreads.com.

About the location… Some reviewers have suggested that the Stedman’s lighthouse in the book, The LIght Between Oceans, is really the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse on the Western Australia mainland coast.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Augusta Margaret River Tourist Association

Tourists who have visited Cape Leeuwin LIghthouse describe the winds and rough oceans, (www.TripAdvisor.com) but no distinguishing marks to actually indicate where the two oceans meet. In reality, they meet at an imaginary line drawn on maps by cartographers.

Stedman says this about the ocean:

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean, not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.”

In the end, it is the ocean and the light from the lighthouse that remain constant. The Sherwood’s lives exist only in memory, their story an “unvisited headstone.”

The Last Meow.

Wow, those oceans look a bit rough for me. I’ll just hang out at the beach, if you don’t mind.

Photo credit: Travel Times Magazine

Photo credit: Travel Times Magazine

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

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6 thoughts on “NaBloPoMo 4: The Light Between Oceans: Book Review

  1. Pingback: Two Oceans Meet in Gulf of Alaska? Not! | JaniceHeck

  2. Thanks for stopping by my little blog. I read your lighthouse story. Very good!
    I see you are part of NaBloPoMo…so am I. Keeps me blogging!


  3. Great review, I’ll have to look out for that book. I’d love to visit the lighthouse.

    • The book gave me a new respect for lighthouse keepers. We have several lighthouses in our South Jersey area, and now I am more interested in visiting them. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  4. Pingback: NaBloPoMo 8: WANAFriday: What Would I Do? | JaniceHeck

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