Check It Out Category: Historical Fiction

Book Discussion Questions: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Cover of The Light Between OceansTitle: 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.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2014 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

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?

Other Resources

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...

Cover of The OrchardistCover of The Lightkeeper's WifeCover of Latitudes of Melt

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Karen Viggers
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark

 

Save

Fiction: Six-Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas

Six Guns and Slay Bells book coverMost holiday stories seek to warm your heart, but those who would rather have their blood chilled needn’t feel left out. For merry-making that is somewhat off the beaten path, try a mix of seasonal paranormal stories set in the Old West. Six-Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas, presented by Western Fictioneers, plays with yuletide fear in selections such as “Christmas Wraiths” by Douglas Hirt and L. J. Washburn’s “A Creature Was Stirring”. Well-known authors Robert Randisi and James Reasoner raise the stakes with “Sheriff Santa and the Ghost of Two Gun Jim” and “Presents for One and All”. Hauntings, shootouts, monsters, and snake-oil salesmen combine to make this Christmas gathering one you won’t easily forget.

Fiction: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas book coverAs much as we enjoy our modern luxuries, there’s something about Jane Austen’s era that keeps us coming back for more. It seems a simpler, less harried, and more genteel time, and especially around the holidays that may truly appeal. What would the Christmas season have been like for the author herself? Stephanie Barron imagines exactly that in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, but she also throws in a dead body or two. No need to worry that our heroine will swoon; the very qualities that make her a keen observer of character also lend themselves to identifying motive, and she is no stranger to inquests, this being her twelfth mystery. Exquisite historical detail and hints of characters that will come to be make this a gift-wrapped read for any self-respecting Janeite.

Fiction: There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

There Is No Lovely End book coverIt all begins with Hester Garlan, a spitfire outlaw who sees the dead. After a mid-jailbreak encounter results in an inconvenient pregnancy, her sensitivity to rogue spirits is transferred to her child, a son she can’t abandon fast enough. When she discovers her second sight is gone, Hester sets off to trade the boy’s life for her gift’s restoration. Meanwhile, a young woman unsuited to expected society roles is thrown together with the founder of the Winchester rifle empire, and though there is a mutual attraction, happily-ever-after may not be in their tea leaves. There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton is a debut that drips with acid-tongued banter, tintype settings, and otherworldly imaginings. It’s a modern take on an old-fashioned tale, and you’ve never read anything quite like it.

Audiobook: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The Other Typist book coverCorruption, speakeasies, and flappers–oh, my! Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist, performed here by the charming actress Gretchen Mol, introduces us to an original narrator: a female transcriptionist in a police precinct during the Prohibition era. Rose is plain and punctilious, a woman in a man’s environment, and privy to the sordid stories and scandals of criminals. Enter Odalie, the gorgeous new “other typist,” a femme-fatale type who brings excitement into the office and Rose’s otherwise mundane life. Mystery surrounds Odalie, and as she and Rose become friends, we find neither woman is quite who she seems. Fun for fans of Jazz Age settings, strong female voices, and plots full of twists and turns.