Review: The Pearler's Wife by Roxane Dhand

It is 1912, and Maisie Porter stands on the dock of the SS Oceanic as England fades from view. Her destination is Buccaneer Bay in Australia's far north-west. Her purpose: marriage to her cousin Maitland, a wealthy pearling magnate - and a man she has never met.

Also on board is William Cooper, the Royal Navy's top man. Following a directive from the Australian government, he and eleven other 'white' divers have been hired to replace the predominantly Asian pearling crews. However, Maitland and his fellow merchants have no intention of employing the costly Englishmen for long. . .

Maisie arrives in her new country to a surprisingly cool reception. Already confused by her hastily arranged marriage, she is shocked at Maitland's callous behaviour towards her - while finding herself increasingly drawn to the intriguing Cooper.

But Maisie's new husband is harbouring secrets - deadly secrets. And when Cooper and the divers sail out to harvest the pearl shell, they are in great danger - and not just from the unpredictable and perilous ocean. . .

My Rating: 3/5

As much a mystery as it is a romance, the story of Maisie takes place in the great Australian landscape, which included a couple of fumbles by the Author and made me wonder whether they had ever actually visited the area that they were describing. 

The description of the Western Australian coastline as 'grey' grated on me somewhat, and granted, some of the coastline may be. But the soil and cliffs of our great north-west are not grey, but red, due to the rich iron-ore deposits found within. And, I don't know whether Fremantle and its harbour have ever been known as 'Port Fremantle'.  A little online research has revealed that the author is British, and not Australian as I had originally assumed when I picked the book up. But, she has visited Broome, the town which Buccaneer Bay takes its inspiration from. But, I digress.

Maisie arrives in the pearling town of Buccaneer Bay at a fractious time. Racial tensions are simmering beneath the surface. And she shocked when her prospective husband seems to resent that she is there - even though he was the one that requested her hand in marriage from her parents. Both of whom seemed only too pleased to be rid of her.

The Pearler's Wife is a story of deep deception, resentment and redemption. It is a story of racial tension. And it is a story that reflects a time in Australia's history that isn't often taught or talked about.

This book contains a homosexual sex scene and I do not recommend it to readers under the age of 18.

This is Roxane Dhand's debut novel.

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 2018
RRP: $32.99 AUD

I purchased this book for my own collection and was not required to give a review.

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