Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman
Page Count: 345 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Haunting, Melancholy
Excerpted summary from publisher:
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. Who was wronged in the book? Whose story would you say this is?
2. Are any of the characters “bad?” If so, who? What makes a person warrant the description “bad?”
3. How would you describe Tom? Why does he enjoy his lightkeeper duties?
4. Why does Isabel want to marry Tom? Why does he agree? What are his hesitations?
5. Did you find Tom and Isabel’s courtship convincing? Do you understand their attraction to one another and their decision to marry?
6. What are some of the signs and hints of Isabel’s manipulative nature early on in the book?
7. Which character were you rooting for more than the others?
8. Was there a character you identified with more? If so, did this change as you read the book?
9. Was there any one character that frustrated you more than others?
10. How does Tom’s quietness play a role in the story? What about Isabel’s quietness?
11. Are Tom and Isabel a mystery to each other?
12. As the reader, are Tom and Isabel mysteries to you as well? Do you feel you know Tom better or Isabel better?
13. How does Tom’s experience in the war affect his relationship with Isabel, being a lightkeeper, and response to the baby arriving?
14. Do you think the pregnancy and childbirth losses they went through affect the right or wrong of keeping the baby? Does knowing what they went through affect your judgment of their choices?
15. Tom and Isabel live a solitary life. How would their response to baby arriving been different if they weren’t isolated on island? How would their marriage have been different?
16. How did you respond to the focus on various characters in town in Part 3? Do you like the variety or is the book better when focused on Tom and Isabel?
17. What does it mean to be an “outsider” and how does that affect one’s perception?
An interview with M.L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans Reading Group Guide
One Book One City Resources
Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Reflection on a Light Between Oceans book discussion
If you liked The Light Between Oceans, try...
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Karen Viggers
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark