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And as the waves take her apart, piece by piece, she watches the message of the lighthouse spelling itself out on the surface of the water. Its message is composed in the alphabet of light and dark. Flash, eclipse, flash, eclipse. If we see only the light, we are blinded; only the dark and we will never find our way.

A tiny coin found inside a Cloudy Bay oyster, a postcard of a white-haired child leaning against a beached dinghy and a coconut peeled and carved once upon a time on the Batavian coast. These trinkets, found in a sea chest, and the fragmented memories of her grandfather's tall tales are all Essie Lewis has left of her family history.

After her grandfather's death, Essie returns to Bruny Island, Tasmania and to the lighthouse where her great-great-grandfather kept watch for nearly 40 years. Beneath the lighthouse, she begins to write the stories of her ancestors. But the island is also home to Pete Shelverton, a sculptor who hunts feral cats to make his own peace with the past. And as Essie writes, she finds that Pete is a part of the history she can never escape.

'Absorbing, subtle, impressive writing.' - Debra Adelaide

'Wood's writing is sinewy, physical and elemental.' - Liam Davison

'Its lyrical probing of several dimensions of Australian/Tasmanian experience make it a fitting recipient for this award. Wood's achievement in her sustained evocation of the bleak Bruny Island landscape and the surrounding seascape is tremendously potent and effective.' - Stella Clarke

'The author has that special quality which just jumps off the page. The voice is strong and the sense of place so powerful.' - James Bradley

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