Publication Date 03 03 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.
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 . . .
Five Star Review
An incredible and fascinating debut.
From the very first page Lizzie's prose conjures up the smells. sounds and sights of a nineteenth century harbour. And just like ten year old Eliza I was mesmerised by all the little details such as the foul smelling fish guts and "the land that looks so very much like blood." What a magnificent and intense entrance to Bannin Bay. Immediately I knew where I was even though I couldn't possibly have travelled there. So rich was the detail and imagery.
That exquisite prose continues throughout the narrative creating vivid scenes and a real sense of place and time. I could almost feel the humid heat and hear the scurrying of the roaches and when she described the dust as tangerine instead of orange - it confirmed for me that I was in the presence of an extraordinary storyteller.
Eliza herself is an enchanting character and her storyline is both enthralling and poignant. Such a brave, strong and independent female especially in the midst of the male dominated world of 19th century Western Australia. I adored her tiny observations and applauded the bold decisions she made. At times scared for her amongst the treachery and deception surrounding her father's murder, her determination to find out what happened to him kept me captivated.
The plotting is excellent and unravels gently across the pages. The themes of love and loss are sensitively and beautifully conveyed. The writing of this book must have taken a huge amount of research because Lizzie retells such an authentic story. The narrative surrounding pearl diving and all its dangers not only in the sea, but on land too, is compelling.
Feminist. Adventurous. Powerful and Breath taking. Moonlight and The Pearler's Daughter is a stunning debut novel. You will become immersed in Eliza's world.