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The Alphabet of Light and Dark - Danielle Wood

The Alphabet of Light and Dark

By: Danielle Wood

Paperback | 1 August 2003 | Edition Number 1

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Melding personal, family and colonial history, Wood's evocative and lyrical prose explores the past and place, searching and belonging, love, loss and grief. The Alphabet of Light and Dark is more than an historical novel; it's a novel about history.

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

'Wood's writing is sinewy, physical and elemental. She is very good when it comes to the melding of family mythology, storytelling, and colonial history into something which serves a range of purposes. A novel about history rather than a historical novel.' Liam Davison

Awards

Nominated: 2005 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Winner 2004: Dobbie Literary Award for a first book by a woman writer. Commended 2004: Fellowship of Australian Writer's Christina Stead Award for Fiction. Shortlisted 2004: The Common

About the Author

Danielle Wood was born in Hobart in 1972. Danielle has an arts degree (with honours) from the University of Tasmania, and is completing a PhD through Edith Cowan University. She has worked as a journalist with newspapers in Hobart and Perth, as a producer with ABC Radio in Perth and Broome, and as a media officer for Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service. Highlights of her career include sailing on the tall ship Eye of the Wind and travelling to Macquarie Island with ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions). She lives in Hobart and The Alphabet of Light and Dark is her first novel.
Industry Reviews
"'Absorbing, subtle, impressive writing.' Debra Adelaide 'Wood's writing is sinewy, physical and elemental.' Liam Davison"

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