The Alphabet of Light and Dark

The Alphabet of Light and Dark
A novel, winner of the 2002 Australian/Vogel Literary Prize and the 2004 Dobbie Award

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. Melding personal, family and colonial history, Wood's evocative and lyrical prose explores the past and place, searching and belonging, love, loss and grief.

What they said

“…a novel of vivid descriptions, sure sense of character, strongly written in plain, clear language that bites—never striking a false or sentimental note—and yet at the same time that grapples with the almost unsayable crises of identity from which we are made without quite realising it.”
Roger McDonald

“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

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