IN THE midst of preparations for Broome’s inaugural literary festival, the sudden appearance in town of a neighbour from her high school years in Sydney catches bookshop owner Jacqui Bouchard by surprise. What could Cameron North – a big-city east-coast lawyer – possibly be doing in the Kimberley?
At the same time, Jacqui is counting down to the scheduled arrival of her teenage son Jean-Luc from France, where he lives year-round with her former husband. Jean-Luc’s summers in Broome are an annual highlight for Jacqui, whose own parents are on the opposite side of the continent.
When her path crosses briefly with a visiting cameraman from Perth, Damien Sanderson, Jacqui’s personal life takes an interesting turn. Damien is the first man to have caught Jacqui’s attention since the dissolution of her marriage. Yet, being based in Perth he is not exactly the ideal partner for a businesswoman tethered firmly to the north-west corner of the country’s biggest state.
Distracting lonely Jacqui from her budding relationship with her fly-in fly-out date, Broome learns that a billionaire miner has plans for the region that quickly divide the isolated community into distinct ‘for’ and ‘against’ camps. While Indigenous leaders debate the financial and cultural merit of the proposal to mine a vast inland area and set up a bulk mineral port that has the potential to overshadow the famous Cable Beach, members of Broome’s multicultural population see either opportunity or loss, depending on their individual circumstances.
With disharmony and bitter divisions building, the looming festival is the one point of unity holding the fractured town together.
In The Red Coast Di Morrissey revisits a part of Australia first explored in two earlier novels, Tears of the Moon and Kimberley Sun, reawakening the story of Lily Barton and her highly successful pearl farm and rekindling interest in the extended Barton family.