“Bright and Distant Shores” by Dominic Smith – Book Review

It is rampaging voyages and buoyant fledglings that one actually gets to envision either a feather of illumination that puts ink to paper every night or the one that tastes the salt in the air to seek the Western winds. There isn’t much alteration in both to be honest, however, there isn’t much alteration among humanity at all. We depart from the same port, head towards the same destination, controlled by mostly the same rules and skid along in the same waters, go through the same storms and then see the same sun rising each morning. However, the difference emerges from how we all encounter the same waves and the faces we get to meet along the way and how we cherish them.

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Then again, life is more or less a series of unpredictable endings and beginnings, all amalgamation and merging together either in a writer’s dystopian mind or a caretaker’s eyes. It is this spontaneity which adds the colour needed in the whites, blacks and greys and adds the difference and which is the retrospection that we all need and fall back into it. Life won’t be the same without it, without any spontaneity or intricacy, it won’t be the same old fun or joy if it weren’t for the little things. However, it is the introspection of one that leads one to the greater finale of the all-encompassing elements.

The Author, Plot and More Information

Dominic Smith is the celebrated author of this novel and is regarded as a deeply revered storyteller. He is an Australian-American novelist and his works have been nominated for manifold awards as well.

Here is a list of his notable works:

  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
  • The Electric Hotel
  • Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
  • The Beautiful Miscellaneous
  • The Bird and the Elephant
Dominic Smith - Allen & Unwin - Australia
Dominic Smith – Picture Credits: www.allenandunwin.com

The main characters of the story include:

  1. Owen Graves
  2. Hale Gray
  3. Adelaide Cummings
  4. Jethro Gray
  5. Argus Niu

The story is set in the warning 19th Century in which, as one of the tallest skyscraper is built in Chicago by the business tycoon led by Hale Gray, he ends up funding a sea-faring voyage to the South Pacific Islands. This voyage was led by Owen Graves and accompanied by Hale Gray’s son, Jethro Gray along with Captain Terrapin and other seamen to trade tribal artifacts in the manifold South Pacific Islands with the cultural natives as each of the different characters amalgamate together to bear their own weighing pasts.

My Review and Experience Regarding The Book

With my experience of having read manifold books, I earlier came to realize that this wasn’t like many classic stories and even the storyline itself was something that caught me off guard, maybe because I had never ever quite read a story of this genre or in such a setting. Thus with its pretty unique storyline and unpredictable plot, you never know when and how one character with merge with the story of another one.


Along with impeccable character development, it feels more of a book that you are introspecting rather than just reading because you feel like an irreplaceable part of it. You can also clearly observe the division of two great, yet separate worlds falling into some sort of organized mutual symbiosis as the Westerners tend to trade their customs with that of the natives. Thus the creative influx in definitely visible and evident.

The novel isn’t vibrous and in fact has very detailed and intricate imagery which does take some time to get used to especially as you further get to understand the depth of the story and how the imagery is an element that definitely adds to its complexity and yet feels like an entire life that you’re living in reading. It is definitely a good read if you want tot get away from the classic stories.

My Favorite Lines From the Book

Here are a few lines from the book Bright and Distant Shores by Dominic Smith that has stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from Bright and Distant Shores and they are written by Dominic Smith, I was just too lazy to write it beside every line.)

  • “A building could be razed or felled and a child could be orphaned. Like an old house, life was waiting to topple.”
  • “His desire to think and pray, to float clouds of possibility in his mind felt like a weakness.”
  • “All were equalised, he said, by the demands of confined living and the whims of the sea herself.”
  • “Anything could be obtained, it was merely a matter of logistics.”
  • “A man so burdened by the past that he could speak only of the present, of meals and weather.”
  • “The sea was deep and filled with bags of sailors’ bones and there were sharks and whales with strands of human hair coiled inside their stomachs, this was something she would never understand.”
  • “Wasn’t character ultimately a question of action?”
  • “My heart is fighting with my ears.”
  • “Life did not come undone in stages, it came undone all at once.”


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