2022 Reviews · general

Book Review: The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby

Title: The Women of Pearl Island

Author: Polly Crosby

Published: September 29th 2021

Publisher: HQ Fiction – GB

Pages: 400

Genres:  Fiction, General

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 2.5 stars

A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield and Kiran Millwood Hargrave

’Like a surreal cabinet of curiosities – haunting, eerie, evocative’ Bridget Collins, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Binding
When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history.

Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape.

Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets.

As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past?

Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Women of Pearl Island is the captivating novel from the author of The Book of Hidden Wonders.


The author of the bestselling novel The Book of Wonders presents a new tale filled with imagination, speculation and deep emotion. An alluring dual timeline narrative, The Women of Pearl Island is a surreal and redolent tale, that will spark the interest of the right type of reader for this novel.

The Women of Pearl Island follows two main characters who are both tied to the mysterious island of Dohhalund, which is situated off the coast of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.  We meet Tartelin Brown, a woman who decides to take up a position at this untamed island kingdom with Marianne Stourbridge, a hermit of sorts. As she settles into her new role, Tartelin delves into the murky history of this wild place. One of the tasks that Tartelin is issued with is to search for butterflies that inhabit this island. But there are secrets to be uncovered about the butterflies that inhabit the island that captivates the curious Tartelin. As this story gentle unfurls, Marianne’s long history with the island is revealed and a shocking hidden truth is finally aired. Tartelin is part of this puzzle, working to piece fragments of the island’s past together in order to help Marianne move on from her haunting past.

Polly Crosby is not a new name to me and I’m guilty of having her previous novel sitting on my shelves unread for over a year now. I do hope to give The Book of Hidden Wonders a whirl sometime soon. Crosby’s latest release has also been gathering dust on my review shelves for a few months now and the school holiday break afforded me some vital time to catch up on some novels that I have been wanting to read for some time now. With such a majestic cover and an intriguing premise, I was really looking forward to escaping into Polly Crosby’s latest fictional world.

I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful cover of The Women of Pearl Island. I think it has to be one of my favourite cover designs of the year. I think I attached a lot of hope to this book and I did expect to love it a lot more than I actually did. It features a dual timeline narrative, with one storyline set in World War II, which is a favourite time period for me personally. The Women of Pearl Island also features a very atmospheric setting. It acquired a lot of early ticks of approval for me. However, not long after beginning the novel I noted its slow pace, meandering narrative with little progression or excitement. I struggled to connect with the characters who were quite curt and unlikeable. My mind drifted away from Polly Crosby’s idyllic Dohhalund island. There was some evocative and vivid prose attached to the location, but it wasn’t enough to carry to novel forward. Those who like dreamy, mystical and fantasy like locations will possibly enjoy this one more than I did.

I was left with some lingering questions and almost a level of misunderstanding when I closed off The Women of Pearl Island, so it was an unsatisfactory read for me. There are other glowing reviews for Polly Crosby’s second novel floating around so please do check them out if this book sparks some interest.

The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby was published on 29th September 2021 by HQ Fiction – GB. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Women of Pearl Island, Polly Crosby, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby

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