This is the second book I have read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge and I loved it.
This breathtaking novel travels more than a century between two love stories set in the Australian seaside town of Lighthouse Bay.
In 1901, a ship sinks off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The only survivor is Isabella Winterbourne, who clutches a priceless gift meant for the Australian Parliament. This gift could be her ticket to a new life, free from the bonds of her husband and his overbearing family. But whom can she trust in Lighthouse Bay?
Fast-forward to 2011: after losing her lover, Libby Slater leaves her life in Paris to return to her hometown of Lighthouse Bay, hoping to gain some perspective and grieve her recent loss. Libby also attempts to reconcile with her sister, Juliet, to whom she hasn’t spoken in twenty years. Libby did something so unforgivable, Juliet is unsure if she can ever trust her sister again.
In these two adventurous love stories, both Isabella and Libby must learn that letting go of the past is the only way to move into the future. The answers they seek lie in Lighthouse Bay.
I love to read historical fiction, especially if it is set in Australia, like Kimberley Freeman’s Lighthouse Bay. But this lovely story has a modern day story woven into it as well and you don’t quite know how the two will marry up until the end of the book. Beginning with Libby in the modern day, we learn that she has just lost her lover of 12 years and that she has decided to return home to Lighthouse Bay, the small Queensland coastal town where she grew up. She now own’s, thanks to her late lover, the old Lighthouse Keepers cottage. She has not been home for twenty years and in that time her father has died and she has become estranged from her sister Juliet. Add to that a mysterious man living in the now disused lighthouse, a greedy property developer and a 110 year old missing relic.
Skipping back to 1901 we meet Isabella, forced to travel to Australia with a husband she detests and still grieving for her baby who died at just 15 days of age, she is desperate to escape the callousness of her husband and have someone acknowledge the profound grief she still feels. A ship wreck in which she is the soul survivor, gives her just that opportunity. With the help of the lighthouse keeper at Lighthouse Bay she is able to recover from the ordeal of the shipwreck and start to build a new life for herself. But with her husband’s family searching for her, will she be able to escape their clutches and find happiness again?
This novel is beautifully written and explores the very real human emotions of grief and forgiveness. Until we forgive ourselves for things that happened in the past we cannot move in with our future.
I highly recommend you read Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman.
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