For readers of The Light Between Oceans and The Island of Sea Women, a “sensitive and compassionate” (The New York Times Book Review) feminist adventure story set against the backdrop of the dangerous pearl diving industry in 19th-century Western Australia, about a young English woman who sets off to uncover the truth about the disappearance of her eccentric father.
Western Australia, 1886. After months at sea, a slow boat makes its passage from London to the shores of Bannin Bay. From the deck, young Eliza Brightwell and her family eye their strange, new home. Here is an unforgiving land where fortune sits patiently at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to be claimed by those brave enough to venture into its depths. An ocean where pearl shells bloom to the size of soup plates, where men are coaxed into unthinkable places and unspeakable acts by the promise of unimaginable riches.
Then years later, the pearl-diving boat captained by Eliza’s eccentric father returns after months at sea—without Eliza’s father on it. Whispers from townsfolk point to mutiny or murder. Headstrong Eliza knows it’s up to her to discover who, or what, is really responsible.
As she searches for the truth, Eliza discovers that beneath the glamourous veneer of the pearling industry, lies a dark underbelly of sweltering, stinking decay. The sun-scorched streets of Bannin Bay, a place she once thought she knew so well, are teeming with corruption, prejudice, and blackmail. Just how far is Eliza willing to push herself in order to solve the mystery of her missing father? And what family secrets will come to haunt her along the way?
An “extraordinarily vivid” (Kelly Rimmer, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Orphan) feminist adventure story based on Lizzie Pook’s deep research into the pearling industry and the era of British colonial rule in Australia, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is ultimately about the lengths one woman will travel to save her family.
In Pook's lush debut, a young woman investigates her father's disappearance in late-19th-century western Australia. After Charles Brightwell goes missing from his pearler ship, his 20-year-old headstrong daughter, Eliza, who has already lost her mother and younger brother, refuses to believe he's dead. When she learns that Balarri, Charles's right-hand man, has been arrested on suspicion of murder, she launches her own investigation. A diary left behind by Charles provides helpful clues that lead Eliza through dangerous areas dominated by the criminal Brotherhood of the Waning Moon and cutthroat business rivals. Eliza receives assistance from Axel Kramer, an attractive German entrepreneur, and a local priest who lends Eliza and Axel his boat so they can resume the search on the small islands that dot the western coast. This final, most dangerous leg of Eliza's journey tests her physical endurance, bravery, and faith in the belief she can save her father. Though the revelations about Charles's disappearance feel a bit lackluster after all the adventure, the author offers plenty of sensory details and satisfying character development for Eliza. Overall, Pook casts an intoxicating spell.