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.
Lizzie Pook is a London-based travel writer and journalist whose work has taken her to some of the farthest-flung parts of the planet, from the trans-Himalayas—in search of elusive snow leopards—to the vast, uninhabited east coast of Greenland. She has written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times (London), Lonely Planet, and Condé Nast Traveler. Lizzie is the author of Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge and Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter. Visit her at LizziePook.com or connect with her on Twitter @LizziePook.
“I’m not someone who frequently falls for historical fiction, but when I do fall, I fall hard. The works of historical fiction I love most share some common DNA: they prioritize character and voice as much as worldbuilding, they explore timeless themes of human love, longing, and loss, and they feature badass female protagonists. Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter checks all of these boxes and more. It features a gutsy young woman who bucks tradition and adventures into the dangerous mangroves and seas of Western Australia to find the truth behind her father’s disappearance. Lizzie Pook brings the natural world to vivid life on the page, but she gives equal weight to the politics of British colonialism and the way they turned Western Australia into a land of profit (for themselves) and peril.”
—Carina G., Senior Editor, on Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter