THE PEARLER’S WIFE

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - GARDEN -

Rox­ane Dhand BANTAM, $33 Sticky, hu­mid north­ern WA is a hot­bed of racism and cor­rup­tion in this his­tor­i­cal work set amid the pearl in­dus­try of the early 1900s. Buc­ca­neer Bay is the fic­ti­tious set­ting re­sem­bling boom­ing Broome of the same era. The town is home to wealthy white mer­chants, Asian pearl divers will­ing to risk their lives for mea­gre pay, and lowly paid indige­nous work­ers. Racial ten­sion is in­flamed when the gov­ern­ment de­clares white divers should be given pri­or­ity over cheaper Asian labour. Bri­tish navy diver Wil­liam Cooper ar­rives on the same ship as Maisie Porter, an English rose whose hand in mar­riage has been promised to her mer­chant cousin Mait­land. But both dis­cover all is not as promised, set­ting them up in con­flict with un­pre­dictable Mait­land and his cronies. De­spite a some­what rushed end­ing, the UK au­thor’s de­but novel, the prod­uct of a visit to Broome, is an ap­peal­ing tale of for­bid­den love and the per­ils of an un­fa­mil­iar land. CA­RINA BRUCE VER­DICT: En­gag­ing his­tory

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