Title: Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter
Author: Lizzie Pook
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 3rd March 2022
1886, BANNIN BAY, AUSTRALIA.
The Brightwell family has sailed from England to make their new home in Western Australia. Ten-year-old Eliza knows little of what awaits them on these shores beyond shining pearls and shells like soup plates – the things her father has promised will make their fortune.
Ten years later and Charles Brightwell, now the bay’s most prolific pearler, goes missing from his ship while out at sea. Whispers from the townsfolk suggest mutiny and murder, but headstrong Eliza, convinced there is more to the story, refuses to believe her father is dead, and it falls to her to ask the questions no one else dares consider.
But in a town teeming with corruption, prejudice and blackmail, Eliza soon learns that the truth can cost more than pearls, and she must decide just how much she is willing to pay – and how far she is willing to go – to find it . . .
The first thing that drew me to Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is the stunning shimmering cover and pleasingly I can confirm that what’s inside the cover is just as beautiful. The story follows Eliza, whose family has made the long journey from England looking for prosperity in Western Australia in the business of pearl diving. The narrative has two strands, covering Eliza’s life in 1886 as a child growing up in Bannin Bay and as an adult, ten years later, when her father fails to return with his ship after a pearl diving trip. Despite what everyone around her claims, Eliza refuses to believe her father is dead and decides to uncover the truth.
One of the aspects that is so wonderful about this book is the lyrical and evocative prose. Pook is exceptionally good at writing about the vivid setting and nature in particular – both the beauty and brutality. I loved Eliza as a character, she is powerful in her way and her strength of conviction carries the novel in such an effective manner. I knew nothing about the historical pearl diving industry before reading Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter so it was a fascinating subject to learn more about and the book is filled with intriguing and impressive historical detail. This rich detail, when paired with the compelling mystery and the racial, gender, class and societal issues at play makes for a truly compelling and incredibly assured debut. Highly recommended.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
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