Title: Lighthouse Bay
Author: Kimberley Freeman
Source: Borrowed (ARC)
From the author of Wildflower Hill, 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.
(This review originally appeared on my blog Winter Distractions on May 8, 2013)
There’s something sweeping saga stories that really appeals to me. I love a good historical book that either starts in the past and brings me up to the present, or one that starts in the present but takes me back to the past, or some kind of combination of the two. I love reading contemporary stories, but there’s something abou the historical that is just so fascinating to me.
I was very lucky to get this book in my mailbox from a co-worker who read it and loved it, who knew that it would be a book I would also love. I will admit that I was automatically in love based on the cover — I mean, beaches? Lighthouses? Sign me up! To me, lighthouses mean mystery, so I knew there had to be some great mystery to the story.
One thing I loved about this story was how it started. It really pulled me in with just a small blurb from the past, something to just whet my appetite for learning more about the mysterious tidbit. Then we’re thrust into the present, with Libby, who is going through a major life change and decides that she needs to leave Paris, her current city, to go back to Australia. It’s the place she grew up and, coincidentally, the place where her and her lover had bought a cottage at.
This story had me intrigued from page one and I just wanted to sit back and read the whole thing cover to cover. Not only to we have Libby’s story — her lover, her estrangement from her sister due to something that happened in her past — but we also have Isabella, the lone survivor on the Aurora, a ship that crashed just off the coast of Australia. She also has mystery about her, not only with her situation cut off as the ship crashes, but also the sadness of her past.
I loved both of the stories that were given to me. Isabella’s story took up the bulk of the book, but there was so much we had to know about her character. I loved seeing her find her way in a new land, meeting new people and trying to make a life for herself away from her controlling family-in-law. It was also interesting to see how Libby tries to make a life for herself, in a place that’s familiar but new at the same time. I was so interested to see how these two stories fit together and I have to admit that the way they both came together in the end was absolutely perfect.
The characters were wonderful in this story. They were so raw and so human, especially the relationship between Libby and Juliet. I kind of wished that we were given more of their story because I definitely loved their characters. Isabella was also a great character, so strong and determined! I found myself hating Arthur, as well as some of the people Isabella came into contact with once she made it to Australia, but also falling in love with some of the characters she met along the way.
I think my only complaint about the story was that we weren’t give more of the present-day story. I loved that the whole story came together in the end, but I found myself wanting a little more from the present. There were also LARGE chunks of story told about Isabella that took up great portions of the book — part of me kind of wished it had been told in alternating chapters from the present to the past. But really, this is all just me being nitpicky.
I’m so happy that I got to read this story. I’m betting that I wouldn’t have even noticed it had my co-worker not slipped it in my mailbox, so I have to thank her for not only introducing me to a wonderful story, but also a new author. I look forward to checking out more of Kimberley Freeman’s work!