Book Advent – Day 3


This is day three of the Book Advent and phew this is some journey! Three continents and I have travelled some distance but that is the beauty of armchair travel since you can be as quick or take your time with your journey and never leave your seat. Aaah bliss

Well today we are off to another continent and we could not be further away from our last setting of Paris if we tried.



I admit to not having read  a lot of literature set in Australia but my love of ML Stedman’s book  –  The Light between Oceans has made me change my mind.

This is a fictional account of a fascinating and brutal period of Australian history


Story in a nutshell – 


Will is a young man  in London who is condemned to death for stealing and he is sent to New South Wales, the penal colony that England founded on the Australian continent.

With the first part of the book set in and around the Thames, we see how life is tough for Will and his family and begin to see how and why such a man should be sent over to a penal colony.

It is when the action moves to Australia that I am most fascinated by this book and the story contained within. Life gets better for will at this point as he starts making money and it seems to be a journey and at sometimes an unpleasant one as it draws us into the story of the settling of Australia and the problems that derive from taking land that has been occupied by natives-in this case the Aborigines.


This is the disturbing part of both the story and the book but it is worth reading as Grenville writes well and creates characters that you really see come off the page and stand up for themselves. She does not shirk from the realities of history and doesn’t let her characters either how ever much i wanted will and Sal to do things differently.

The family are set to inhibit and to try and conquer a new world, with a harsh hot climate and struggles with those who lived there before them.

New South Wales is a fascinating backdrop and although I have never been nor would I want to travel to it in this time period, it would be fascinating to learn more of its history by going to the places in the book and appreciating the story of its peoples.

It is the story of early Australia and is a fascinating journey

The Light Between Oceans – A Lighthouse, Australia


Why a booktrail?

The most heartbreaking story we’ve read in a long while. Set on a remote outpost of Australia, a lighthouse is the only thing Tom and Isabel know until one day a boat is washed up with a baby and a man inside. The man is dead but the baby is very much alive….

See the locations in the novel on our new site! The

Story in a nutshell

In the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s, a light house keeper (Tom) and his wife (Isabel) find a life boat with a dead man and live baby in it wash up on their beach.

Isabel has suffered several miscarriages. Life is tough and lonely on Janus Rock. A baby would change things. Who would know if they passed the baby off as their own?

“And the baby’s alive. Have a heart Tom”

The Light Between Oceans is a novel of anguish, joy, tears and all the other raw emotions you can think of.

It’s what happens when good people make bad decisions.

Place and setting

Augusta - and Cape Leeuwin - inspiration for Point Partageuse  and the lighthouse there?
Augusta – and Cape Leeuwin – inspiration for Point Partageuse and the lighthouse there?

The lighthouse of Point Partageuse may be fictional but it is the setting, the remote setting of the landscape, the landscape of their grief at not having a baby and the conflicted feelings they have which really shock and suprise. The day a boat containing a dead man washes ashore is one they will never forget-

“And the baby’s alive. Have a heart Tom”

“Something in her tone struck him, and instead of simply contradicting her, he paused and considered her plea. Perhaps she needed a bit of time with a baby. Perhaps he owed her that. There was a silence, and Isabel turned to him in wordless appeal” 

Alongside the main human characters, however, it was the lighthouse which was perhaps the main protagonist, so vivid in every scene. Before Tom and Isabel go and live together, Tom lives there on his own:

“On Janus there is no reason to speak. Tom can go for months and not hear his own voice. He knows some keepers who make a point of singing, just like turning over an engine to make  sure it still works. But Tom finds a freedom in the silence. He listens to the wind. He observes the tiny details of life on the island”

This was a story of everyone’s Janus Rock – that place that we all go to for solitude and the one place that gives us the quiet and loneliness that sometimes we welcome and other times can’t wait to flee. It’s the dark recesses of our mind and conscience.

The Author hails from SW Australia so this is also a port of call when trying to determine the locations even though she has said in an interview that the places just formed in her mind.

The book should ideally be read near a lighthouse set on craggy rocks to get the ultimate booktrail experience.

Reading The Light Between Oceans where the action takes place
Reading The Light Between Oceans where the action takes place
My Janus Rock
My Janus Rock
The view from Janus Rock
The view from Janus Rock – where the boat washes ashore
“On the lights you account for every single day” - page 79
“On the lights you account for every single day” – page 79
“In time, as the ghosts starts to dissolve in the pure Janus air” - page 79
“In time, as the ghosts starts to dissolve in the pure Janus air” – page 79

Bookish musings by Susan

The story itself will not only touch you but wrench out your heart and your moral compass in several places. ML Stedman creates some VERY difficult scenarios whilst making you feel as if although you might not agree with what they decide to do, you understand in some way.

Battling with your inner conflict is something that we all do at some point but on an issue as important as a child’s future, it takes on a whole new level.

Think of yourself as a 4 year old child when the whole world revolved around your mother and how things were so simple and uncomplicated. Next imagine that little child trapped at the centre of a moral whirlwind and her realisation of her position as she starts to grow up.

The Light Between Oceans made me cry. I had to read it in one day as after leaving my own version of the lighthouse setting, I returned home and read the rest in bed. I noticed it was midnight so I turned out the light.

Seconds later it went back on until I read the last page.

But I was still at that lighthouse on Janus Rock for a long time afterwards.