Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Lighthouse Bay

Lighthouse Bay
By Kimberley Freeman
Published: April 9, 2013

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.

My review:

I usually enjoy stories with dual narratives that are set in the past and in the present so I was pretty sure I would like Lighthouse Bay. I did find Isabella's story to be more compelling but I still liked the contemporary story because of the sibling relationship between Libby and Juliet and wanting to find out what happened to cause their estrangement. 

All three of the women are dealing with grief: Isabella is grieving the loss of her child, Libby is mourning for her dead lover, and Juliet also has a loss she has been dealing with for 20 years. Part of the story revolves around how they learn to cope. Isabella in particular has a difficult time partly because of her husband's cruel behavior. Perhaps this is why I found her story so interesting. She has a lot of growing and healing to do.

At first I wasn't sure that I would like the character of Isabella but I came to understand that some of her odd behavior was due to the twin blows of the death of her baby and the meanness of her husband and his family. They really controlled her and wouldn't allow her to grieve which I think led to almost madness. I think anyone who has experience such a deep and shocking loss and then wasn't able to mourn or show sadness might react in the same way. 

I enjoyed the setting and reading about the history of Lighthouse Bay. It seems to be a character of its own. The writing style is descriptive at times without bogging down the pacing. Even though the secrets weren't really hard to figure out, I still kept turning the pages because I wanted to know what would happen, especially with Isabella-would she escape the clutches of her husband's family? 

There is some romance for the characters too but it isn't the main focus of the book. Instead the book looks more at family relationships and dealing with loss and healing. I think this would be a good pick for fans of books like The Violets of March by Sarah Jio or The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff. Fans of Susanna Kearsley might also enjoy it though the book does not involve any time travel elements. Readers who enjoy historical fiction should also take note. 

Note: I received an e-ARC for review courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss


  1. I like historical fiction so the 1901 setting is catching my attention; also because you found it more compelling. I don't read much adult fiction but this might be one to try.

  2. Great review, Christina! I think this book sounds like something I'd enjoy, except it seems a little on the melancholy side. I wish there was some more romance. On the other hand, the setting sounds amazing. I'll have to keep my eye out for this book!


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