I can never understand why there’s tonnes of fuss around some silly books (you know the one I’m talking about!) while other—more worthy novels—barely rate a mention. I’ve just finished reading one of the best books I’ve read all year: Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman. I guess you’d call it a romance, but it seems so much more than that. The storyline is gripping, the characters are strong and forthright, and the writing is just so effortless. Best of all, the novel is set on the Sunshine Coast, so it feels wonderfully familiar and local.
Freeman deals with some extremely delicate subjects (the death of an infant child, for example) and does it with a brave and realistic sensitivity. Personally, I always find it difficult when uncomfortable issues crop up in books as some kind of convenient plot device, but Freeman writes differently, as though speaking from experience rather than just speculation. Her sense of gravity makes it easy to sympathise and engage with her characters.
The story itself is about two women from two different eras (1901 and 2011) who have several defining similarities, not least the fact that they are somehow attached to the coastal Queensland town of Lighthouse Bay (a fictional Peregian Beach). Both women are victims of circumstance who are searching for a way out of their respective predicaments, learning about love and relationships in the process. While the 2011 material is contemporary and relevant, the 1901 storyline provides a brilliant insight into the transport, language, cultural, and social history of turn-of-the-century Queensland.
I loved this book and would highly recommend it. Most of all I loved that the female characters are so realistic and edgy, and that the book has an unmistakeable “Queensland” feel. Lighthouse Bay has just been selected as one of the 2012 Get Reading: Fifty Books You Can’t Put Down so I guess I’m not the only one who thinks it is pretty awesome! Read it for yourself then let me know what you think. This is one book I can’t wait to discuss.