Moonlight and Pearler’s Daughter

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Eliza Brightwell’s mother is dead and her father, one of the most successful pearlers in Bannin Bay in 19th century Western Australia, is missing at sea. Her brother won’t reveal what happened—Did their father drown? Was he killed aboard ship?—and so many people want to take advantage of her father’s absence that Eliza has no choice but to determine the truth herself in Lizzie Pook’s debut novel, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter.

The premise of the book is very strong; headstrong Eliza navigates the seedy underbelly of the pearling industry with her intelligence, bravery, help from a local older woman, and the assistance of a prostitute who is truly Eliza’s only friend. She must deal with her opium-addicted brother Thomas along the way as well as a growing infatuation, the first of her life as she views herself wildly plain and unlikely to find romantic love, with Axel Kramer. As their relationship grows and they set out on the boat Moonlight, Eliza must choose her heart’s truest path: loyalty to her family, or a future with this new man.

Pook’s book has lovely moments, but it desperately needs an editor with a sharp pencil to cut through all the dense vegetation of over-explanation and irrelevant side plots. The prostitute’s story, another character’s illegitimate son, and Eliza’s own low self-esteem take up too much room in the story of the search for one of Bannin Bay’s most prominent citizens. Had the book begun with more action, perhaps the lagging pace leading to the actual search wouldn’t have felt like such a slog.

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Author Lizzie Pook
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 288 pages
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publish Date 14-Jun-2022
ISBN 9781982180492 Buy this Book
Issue September 2022
Category Popular Fiction