Publisher: Quercus (21 Nov 2013)
1901: Isabella Winterbourne has suffered the worst loss a woman can know, and can no longer bear her husband nor his oppressive upper-class family. On a voyage between London and Sydney to accompany a priceless gift to the Australian parliament, Isabella is the sole survivor of a shipwreck off the sun-drenched Queensland coast. But in this strange new place, she finds she cannot escape her past quite as easily as she’d hoped.
2011: A woman returns from Paris to her beachside hometown to reconcile with her sister. But she, too, has a past that is hard to escape, and her sister is not in a mood to forgive her. Strange noises at night and activity at the abandoned lighthouse raise her curiosity, and she finds herself investigating a century-old town mystery.
Beginning in 2011 we get to know more about Libby, her reasons for leaving Paris and her ambivalence in returning to her home of Lighthouse Bay. She has the deeds to what once used to be the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and this is where she makes her home.
In 1901 we’re with Isabella and husband Arthur on the baroque. Their arranged marriage is a total mis-match – Arthur is straight laced and ruled by routine while Isabella is quite fey. Isabella’s strength of character is clear in how she overcomes the depravations as a result of the shipwreck and finds a place in the town.
If you read my reviews you will know I really enjoy the structure of alternating timelines. In Lighthouse Bay, I loved the length of time we spend in each century. We leave after a major turning point, not knowing the consequences until we’re back in that time. This is such a page turner as I was quite desperate to find out what was happening! Each timeline has a different rhythm to the writing too which fits with the era.
I enjoyed the parallels of the two women coming to terms with emotional turmoil as a result of two very different experiences … and the building tensions in the story but for opposite reasons – escape and return.
I also loved that the priceless gift has a totally different beginning in 1901 to that of the treasure in 2011. I loved the symbol and all that it represented.
Despite being quite a lengthy story, my imagination was engaged at all times. Reading this during the school holidays allowed me to have quite long reading sessions and I didn’t have to wait too long to be able to pick it up again. A definite bonus!
This is the first book I’ve read from this author and have to admit that I’ve since purchased Wildflower Hill.
Lighthouse Bay is staying on my keeper’s shelf.
I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.