Culture Street

Books

Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

On October 28, 2012

By Sophia Whitfield

Kimberley Freeman carved out a name for herself as a writer of fantasy, under the name Kim Wilkins, before successfully switching genres to commercial fiction.

Lighthouse Bay is commercial fiction at its best. Freeman adeptly switches in time from 1901 to 2011, as she tells the stories of two women, Isabella Winterbourne and Libby Slater, whose lives become intertwined through an association with place.

Set on the east coast of Australia, the lighthouse, a beacon of light, plays a pivotal role in both stories.

In 1901, the Aurora was lost in a hurricane off the east coast of Australia. It was believed that all twenty-two on board perished. Mr Arthur Winterbourne, the renowned London jeweller, and his wife Isabella, were accompanying a gift of mace, a ceremonial club made of gold and precious gems. The gift was to the Australian parliament from HRH Queen Victoria. All was thought to be lost at sea.

In 2011 Libby Slater returns from Paris to Lighthouse Bay, her childhood home, after the sudden death of Mark, her partner of twelve years. She was last home over twenty years ago and must now address her demons as she returns to the familiar setting of Lighthouse Bay with the lighthouse gleaming its welcome. Her childhood home has now been turned into a B & B by her sister Juliet, but Mark had bought her a home in Lighthouse Bay six years ago, a home which, until now, has remained empty. Juliet and Libby have not seen each other or had any contact since Libby’s abrupt departure. They must try to heal old wounds so they can move on with their lives.

Their relationship is fractured. Sleepless nights, strange happenings and the constant view of the lighthouse awaken Libby’s interest in the past. As she researches the history, discovering old lighthouse journals, she begins to unravel the secrets of the past.

Isabella Winterbourne was in a loveless marriage. Three years before the Aurora departed she had lost her beloved son Daniel. She was still grieving, unable to get past her son’s cruel fate. Her husband offered no sympathy, instead berating her for her inability to leave the past behind. The Aurora’s fate allows Isabella to escape the Winterbourne family, but her journey is dangerous. Percy Winterbourne, brother of Arthur, is on her heels, believing that she has stolen the mace from his family in an attempt to conjure a new life for herself.

As Libby struggles with her own grief she becomes embroiled in Isabella’s. Both women must rediscover a new life for themselves as they search for a glimmer of light on the horizon. Forgiveness and understanding permeate the underbelly of this novel.

Freeman shifts easily between the two time frames. Both women, worlds apart, appear vulnerable, swept up in destructive relationships as they try to piece together their lives, after enduring the trauma of grief.

The reader will walk each step with Isabella as she yearns for her freedom and a life away from the arrogance and hatred of the Winterbourne family.

Freeman brings her characters to life in this engaging story. You will not be able to walk away until the final resolution unfolds.

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