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This stunning debut is a compelling piece of historical fiction, set at the turn of the century, among the pearl merchants making their fortune in the ports of Western Australia.

From the high seas to the deep seabed, from the latticed verandahs of Buccaneer Bay to the gambling dens in Asia Place, The Pearler’s Wife is a stunning debut, inspired by a small yet pivotal moment in Australian history.

A distant land. A dangerous husband. A forbidden love.

It is 1912, and Maisie Porter stands on the deck 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 . . .

'An appealing tale of forbidden love and the perils of an unfamiliar land' Herald Sun
'Dhand's compelling debut explores racism, homosexuality and social class, with a hefty dose of romance thrown in' Sunday Times, Perth

Reviews

An appealing tale of forbidden love and the perils of an unfamiliar land.

Herald Sun

Dhand's compelling debut explores racism, homosexuality and social class, with a hefty dose of romance thrown in.

Sunday Times, Perth

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780143789642

    February 26, 2018

    Bantam Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Audio Download

    9780143792352

    March 1, 2018

    Penguin Random House Australia Audio

    RRP $26.99

    Online retailers

    • Audible
    • Google Play
  • EBook

    9780143789659

    February 26, 2018

    Random House Australia

    400 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Extract

Chapter 1

From the deck of the SS Oceanic, Maisie Porter looked down on the wharf. The bugle sounded, signalling that all guests should curtail their farewells and go ashore. Her father had already averted his face and was walking away.

This is it, then, she thought. As she watched him vanish in the distance she could not say if he would miss her. She hoped so but in her heart she doubted it. Over the week before setting sail, Maisie had felt she was being edged towards a precipice, that her days with her family were counting down like the number of nights until Christmas Day. And now here she was, off to Australia. The bugle sounded again, and the ship slid into the stream.

Her mother hadn’t bothered to see her off. Up until the last moment she had wondered if her mother might have made the effort, if only for the pleasure of seeing her go, to give the final shove that propelled her over the cliff edge, permanently out of view.

A few weeks ago, Maisie hadn’t even known her cousin Maitland existed. Now she was on her way to marry him.

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Article
Researching The Pearler’s Wife

Roxane Dhand on discovering the rocky history of Broome’s pearl-fishing industry.