A lonely windswept lighthouse island in Bass Strait hides a dangerous secret hundreds of years in the making …
‘Secrets and sabotage keep readers guessing in the new novel from Kaye Dobbie.’
We have an excerpt for you plus a few words from multi-published author, Kaye Dobbie!
Laura Webster and her father are the stalwart keepers of Benevolence Island Lighthouse, a desolate place stranded in the turbulent Bass Strait. When a raging storm wrecks a schooner just offshore, the few survivors take shelter with the Websters, awaiting rescue from the mainland. But some of the passengers have secrets that lead to dreadful consequences, the ripples of which echo far into the future …
Nina and her team of volunteers arrive on Benevolence to work on repairs, with plans to open up the island to tourists. Also on the expedition, for reason of his own, is Jude Rawlins, a man Nina once loved. A man who once destroyed her.
But the idyllic location soon turns into a nightmare as random acts of sabotage leave them with no communication to the mainland and the sense of someone on the island who shouldn’t be there.
The fingers of those secrets from the passengers lost long ago are reaching into the present, and Nina will never be the same again …
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A few words from Kaye Dobbie
As you can see from the excerpt of The Keepers of the Lighthouse, this book is set on an island in Bass Strait. A shipwreck starts the 1882 story. In the modern story a group of people arrive on the same island to prepare it for tourists. The two stories are interlinked. And for those animal lovers like myself, Edmund’s dog is fine!
I love lighthouses, there is something so brave and yet solitary about them. I have visited a few in my time, although not nearly enough. The lighthouse in my book is based on Deal Island, which is part of the Kent Group of Islands, in Northern Bass Strait. The island is now in a national park.
Writing about places like this is a pleasure. I can fulfill my wanderlust and let my creative mind roam free. I have visited many, many places during my writing career and although it was only via research and in my mind, it feels as if I know them well.
How many of you have been to a lighthouse, climbed those steep stairs and stared out through the glass at the endless sea? And I hope, imagined yourself as a lighthouse keeper of long ago!
Excerpt from The Keepers of the Lighthouse
by Kaye Dobbie
17 May 1882, Benevolence Island Lighthouse, Bass Strait between Tasmania and Victoria
‘There!’ Her father pointed.
Three dark shapes, moving. Survivors fighting their way through the choppy waves as they waded towards the beach.
As Laura hurried forward, she saw that two of them were supporting the third, who hung slumped between them. As the trio reached the shallows, Laura noted that one of the helpers wore a skirt. A rogue wave hit them as Laura and her father approached, sending the injured man face first into the water. Voices were raised against the wind and rain, and one of the two began to tug the limp body towards firmer ground. The other, the woman, began heading out to sea again.
Quickly, Leo put down the lamp and ran to help support the injured man. At the same time, Laura ran past him to reach the woman, who was by now almost waist deep in the water. Laura caught her, and then grappled with her as the woman tried to force her back.
‘Albert!’ the woman sobbed, struggling to be free. ‘I need to find Albert!’
‘Albert will find you,’ Laura said breathlessly, the first words that came to mind. ‘Now come with me before we both drown.’
The woman’s hands were icy and her teeth were chattering. Her dark hair hung heavy about her face and shoulders, while her sodden clothes clung to her. The coat she was wearing was heavy with water and pulling her down. She looked at Laura with wild eyes just as another wave washed hard against them, and they only just managed to stay upright. She seemed to give up then, and she and Laura fought their way out of the waves to stumble up the beach.
Laura grimaced. Her boots were filled, sloshing, and her wet trousers clung to her legs. She loved swimming, loved the sea, but this was not the weather to be out in it. By now, her father and the other survivor had lain the injured man down onto the sand.
Her father was kneeling beside him, trying to reason with him, while the stranger sought to hold the man down as he twisted and groaned, clearly not in his right senses. Eventually he quietened, and Leo ran his hands over limbs and torso, and then carefully examined the fellow’s head.
The injured man was muttering to himself, but at least now he lay still. The stranger who had been holding him down fell back upon the sand. He lay there for a moment as if too weary to move, and then with a groan he sat up and began to pull off his boots. He tipped the water out of them one at a time, frowning as he did so. Unlike Laura’s boots, they seemed expensive, and were probably more for show than of any real practical use. His clothes, though wet and stuck with sand, looked equally expensive. He could have passed for one of the gentlemen in the books or illustrated papers she kept in her room.
As if he had felt her watching, the man glanced up, and she saw he was young, about her own age. The wet hair he pushed back appeared black in the light of the lamp, his eyes just as dark. He was clean-shaven, unlike most of the men she encountered with their beards and moustaches, and as she continued to stare his mouth quirked at one corner.
Embarrassed, Laura looked away, but his voice, very English, drew her back. As well as dressing like a gentleman, he sounded like one, too.
‘Where are we?’
‘Benevolence Island,’ Laura told him.
‘Not the State of Victoria, then?’
‘No. We are halfway between Victoria and Tasmania.’
As he examined her, she became aware of her drowned-rat appearance, not to mention her male attire. She tugged her waterproof jacket tighter with a shiver. The water had been cold.
‘What is your name?’ he asked, still watching her.
‘Edmund Bailey.’ He held out his hand to her. It was probably automatic, something he did all the time, but in these circumstances polite introductions seemed incongruous. He gave a huff of laughter as if he realised it, and dropped his hand just as she was about to take it. The moment felt awkward.
‘Were you alone on board, Mr Bailey?’ she asked, remembering her role. People were drowning and there was no time for silliness.
‘Yes,’ he began, and then frowned again. ‘That is, my dog …’ She saw grief in his eyes, and he opened his mouth as if to say more, but instead bent to tug his boots back on.
Multi-Published, RuBY Award Finalist Author
Captivating historical and contemporary family sagas
Read more about Kaye Dobbie and her books
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