Destination: Queensland, Australia, near Brisbane
Book: Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman
What a perfect beach read. A sunken ship, buried treasure, a home on the beach by the lighthouse, sister relationships, adventure, and romance. Lighthouse Bay packs a lot into its two-pronged story.
The two story lines swing between an unhappy young wife sailing from England to Australia in 1901, and a 40-year-old artist returning to her native Australia from work in Paris in 2011. Isabella Winterbourne escapes the shipwreck without her husband but with a priceless mace created by the Winterbourne jewelers as a gift from the Queen. In her story, we follow her shipwreck survival story and her adventures trying to find a way to get to American to be with her sister. Along the way she reveals her secrets to the lighthouse keeper who helps her.
Libby Slater has a fraught relationship with her sister, who now runs a bed and breakfast in their home town of Lighthouse Bay. Libby left Paris when her long-time (married) lover died. Also from the Winterbourne jeweler family, he had conveniently left Libby a home near the lighthouse, so she has a place to live. His widow, oblivious about the affair, contracts with Libby to continue work with their jewelry firm. In Australia Libby meets a handsome and charming man who may become the new love interest in her life, but may just be trying to buy and develop her property.
The two stories of this beach read appropriately merge on a beach when a younger man who is camped out in the lighthouse helps Libby dig into the history of the mysterious cargo of the 1901 shipwreck, and they discover part of the story of Isabella.
As you can see from the brief summary, there is plenty going on here, and even though I predicted most of the outcomes as I read, the book tugged me all the way through. I wanted to follow the stories of the two appealing lead characters. My complaint is that despite the hardships and problems they face, their survival always seems to depend on some incredible coincidence that makes the story seem less, well, credible.
As a traveler, it is interesting to have a beach read that nicely describes life in a small beach town near Brisbane, Australia. As a reader, it is nice to discover an Australian author, since Australian literature (even the lightweight beach read) unfortunately doesn’t often make it all the way across the Pacific to America.
So, have you discovered some Australian literature that we should add to a traveler’s library?
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