Skip to Main Content

Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter

A Novel


About The Book

A young Englishwoman searches for the truth about the disappearance of her eccentric father in this rich historical adventure novel set in the perilous world of the pearl diving industry in 19th-century Western Australia.

Everything has a price. And the truth may cost more than pearls...

As the pearling ships return to Bannin Bay after a long diving season, twenty-year-old Eliza Brightwell awaits the arrival of her father’s boat. But when his lugger finally limps in, it brings a tale of tragedy: Charles Brightwell, master pearler, has gone missing at sea.

Whispers from the townsfolk point to mutiny or murder. Headstrong Eliza knows it is up to her to find out who—or what—is responsible for her father’s disappearance. Searching for the truth, she delves beneath the glamorous veneer of the south sea pearling trade only to discover that the sun-scorched streets of Bannin Bay, a town she once thought she knew so well, are teeming with corruption, prejudice, and blackmail.

How far is Eliza willing to go to save the ones she loves? And what family secrets will come to haunt her along the way?

Set in a mesmerizing yet unforgiving place where both profit and peril lie deep beneath the ocean’s surface, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is an exquisite debut about a young woman’s quest to bring her father home.

About The Author

Magdalena Smolarska

Lizzie Pook is a London-based travel writer and journalist whose work has taken her to some of the farthest-flung parts of the planet, from the trans-Himalayas—in search of elusive snow leopards—to the vast, uninhabited east coast of Greenland. She has written for The GuardianThe TelegraphThe Times (London), The Evening Standard, and StylistMoonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is her first novel.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 7, 2022)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982181956

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

“Pook’s meticulous research delivers an extraordinarily vivid tale in Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter. Readers will fall in love with the characters in this book, especially the courageous, stubborn Eliza, and will find themselves transported to Bannin Bay in the late 1800s. I could not put this book down. Lizzie Pook is an author to watch!”
— KELLY RIMMER, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Orphan

“A jewel of a book by a uniquely compelling new voice in historical mystery.”
— SUSANNA KEARSLEY, New York Times bestselling author of The Firebird and The Vanished Days

“In her atmospheric novel, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, Pook draws the reader into life in 1890s Western Australia in all its gritty reality, with her mesmerizing, poetic language—a vibrant page-turner not to be missed.”
— LESLIE HOWARD, bestselling author of The Brideship Wife

“Gritty, lyrical, breathtaking. I couldn’t put it down, drawn in by its vividly drawn characters and wealth of historical detail.”
— FIONA VALPY, bestselling author of The Dressmaker’s Gift

“This is a stunning debut. From the very first line, this novel drew me fully into its gritty yet captivating world. Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter paints a memorable picture of ambition, sacrifice, and corruption while exploring personal loss as driving force. I will never look at a string of pearls in quite the same way.”
— CHARMAINE WILKERSON, New York Times bestselling author of Black Cake

“A sensitive and compassionate book, admirable in its engaging synthesis of multiple strands of history. It is alive to the complexity of how things must have been, and its consideration of race, gender and sexuality invigorates the era with a freshness that feels organic. . . . At its heart, this is a story about family—whether it can survive in an inhospitable environment—and whether it is possible to be a good person in a corrupted world.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“A gorgeous debut. Both a breathtaking adventure story and a moving testimony to the lengths we go to for the people we love, it swept me away from the first page . . . A gleaming achievement.”
— EMMA STONEX, internationally bestselling author of The Lamplighters

“[The] atmospheric, evocative descriptions of the Western Australian landscape are an absolute masterclass in place—as well as being a proper, page-turning adventure.”
— ELLERY LLOYD, bestselling author of the Reese Book Club pick The Club

“With the spirited Eliza at its heart, Pook’s evocative debut novel spins a tale of intrigue and deception with a deft combination of gripping pacing and emotional restraint. Travel writer and journalist Pook’s heightened observational skills are well employed in this lavish tableau showcasing Australia’s vast and exotic natural treasures and fraught history.”
 Booklist (Starred Review)

“Beautifully evocative prose describing landscape and people intertwine in this bittersweet story of love, family, and courage. The small cast of characters, each wonderfully fleshed out, and Eliza’s quest are what propel the story. . . . Readers will delight in the descriptive language that the author employs, so much so that they themselves will hear the sea and feel the desiccation of the heat and loneliness of the land.”
— Library Journal

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images