Book vs. Movie: The Light Between Oceans

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Movie is a feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing book to movie adaptations.


Book vs. Movie: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is a movie that does not compare to the book. The book by M.L. Stedman is an incredible story and contains characters that will stay with you long after reading It and will break your heart into a million pieces. . Albeit, the movie adaptation is one that truly has beautiful cinematography and wonderful acting,  it just does not live up to the original book.

Book vs. Movie: The Light Between OceansTitle: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman
Publisher: Scribner
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Screenplay: Derek Cianfrance
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Rating: three-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia - the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.

Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take 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 and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, 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.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman's mesmerizing, beautifully written debut novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel's decision to keep this "gift from God." And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another's tragic loss.


❀ The book makes you question your values

There are so many moments in the novel, The Light Between Oceans, that will make readers question their own values and whether good people can become desperate enough to go against their own. I was definitely torn up and changed my opinion multiple times throughout this book. M.L. Stedman also writes with such descriptiveness that we really get a sense of life in a small Australian town in the early 1900s and the wonderful characters that live there. While the focus is on Tom and Isabel, even the most minor of characters are so well developed. Readers will get a feeling for how the events and decisions made affect so many in this beautiful novel.

❀ The Movie Has Impeccable Acting

I was very worried that this movie would not live up to such a well written and heart-wrenching story. The acting is impeccable and I really think that the casting was perfect for the main characters. Little Lucy/Grace is cute as a button and exactly as I had imagined her. Also, the gorgeous setting of Australia is so visually stunning and I would recommend watching this movie just for the scenery. One would think that this sounds as though the film is off to a great start, but there were small details and characters that were omitted from the film. I admit that this is understandable, as the entire novel is squished into a two hour movie. This is where my positivity towards the film ends, however.

❀ The Big Difference in the mOvie is the Portrayal of Tom

What I had a hard time understanding was the altering of the plot and the portrayal of Tom. Without spoiling the book and the film, I will just say that my feelings toward Tom were not as harsh as he is made to appear. Also, an event that completely turns the plot around was added to the movie that just made me shake my head. I left the theatre quite annoyed about this, actually.

❀ The Movie Will Disappoint Fans of the Book

Perhaps had I not read the book and gone to see this film without prior conceptions, I would not judge it so severely. There are some wonderful aspects about the movie that can’t be overlooked. As a reader and fan of the novel, however I am disappointed. So, in my opinion, this is a book that should not be judged by its movie.

About M.L. Stedman

M.L. Stedman

M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.


About Lori

Avid reader. Contributor to The Candid Cover. Educator.

13 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: The Light Between Oceans

  1. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy says:

    I’m interested in watching this because of the Fassbender, but I haven’t read the book and was actually a little bit unclear about the plot. After reading your review I think I’ll try to watch the movie first just so I can maximize my enjoyment of it. 🙂 So cool that you got to see a free screening of this!

    • Candid Cover says:

      I think that this is a great idea, Charlene! I have a feeling that anyone who has not read the book first will really enjoy this film. Sometimes I wonder why I punish myself because it is very rare that a book is translated well to the screen. I hope that you enjoy it! 🙂

  2. Jaime Lynn says:

    The movie looks beautiful and heartbreaking. Maybe it is a good thing that I haven’t read the book. Gives me a slightly higher chance of loving the movie, then I can read the book and love it as a separate thing. We will see! Either way, the story is haunting even without reading it. I can’t even imagine!

  3. techeditor says:

    That’s what I’m afraid of, that I won’t like the movie because I read the book. But the book wasn’t unputdownable until Part 3, when Tom and Isabel deal with consequences.

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