The Pearler’s Wife
Rating: 3 / 5
Roxane Dhand’s debut novel covers fascinating territory, and her research into the history of Broome’s pearl divers in the 19th century is illuminating. Described as a sweeping romance, The Pearler’s Wife follows the story of English rose Maisie, sent to the frontier country of Western Australia to marry a cousin she has never met.
But this is no fairytale—her cousin Maitland is unusual, to say the least, and Maisie needs to call on all her inner resilience to cope with her new life. It’s interesting to see her humane interactions with her First Nations servants and the local Asian doctor, at a time where the White Australia policy was being planned.
Eventually Maisie finds happiness, despite the obstacles she encounters. This is an interesting story but it meanders at times and risks becoming a potboiler romance, before Dhand eventually introduces much-needed dramatic tension that redeems the novel.