I discovered Tea Cooper through a blog tour with one of my long time friends and book bloggers, Amy over at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and I fell in love with her book The Woman in the Green Dress! It was well written, beautiful and fun. So when this latest book from Cooper came up for review, it was an easy yes for me!
Cooper has written a number of other books but so far these are the only two that I have read and when I picked this one up, I expected the same polish and research that was in The Woman in the Green Dress. While I was not at all disappointed in this one, I have to admit I still love The Woman in the Green Dress the best, but I think that’s because it was my first ‘experience’ with her novels!
I love that her books are set in Australia. They have a distinct, exotic feel for me because of that element. So many historical fiction novels are set in England, France, or occasionally New York./East Coast of the US. But having this book set in Australia gave it a new, refreshing feel that I was craving!
Orphan Jane Piper is nine years old when philanthropist siblings Michael and Elizabeth Quinn take her into their home to further her schooling. The Quinns are no strangers to hardship. Having arrived in Australia as penniless immigrants, they now care for others as lost as they once were.
Despite Jane’s mysterious past, her remarkable aptitude for mathematics takes her far over the next seven years, and her relationship with Elizabeth and Michael flourishes as she plays an increasingly prominent part in their business.
But when Elizabeth reacts in terror to an exhibition at the local gallery, Jane realizes no one knows Elizabeth after all—not even Elizabeth herself. As the past and present converge and Elizabeth’s grasp on reality loosens, Jane sets out to unravel her story before it’s too late.
From the gritty reality of the Australian goldfields to the grand institutions of Sydney, this compelling novel presents a mystery that spans continents and decades as both women finally discover a place to call home. (summary from Goodreads)
This book was a bit mystery, a bit romance, and a whole lot of history. I liked how this story was told in two separate timelines but not the typical modern and historic timelines but rather two different historic time periods. That approach made this book particularly rich in history and I loved how the different historic times and events seemed unrelated but then came together to create this wonderful story. I remember from Cooper’s other book that the historical details and the attention to the landscape of Australia made it stand out and Cooper captures that once again in this one. I especially loved learning about the mining industry in Australia! So many wonderful historical details in this one!
But as I mentioned, I still loved The Woman in the Green Dress a little better and it took me a while to figure out exactly why. While I was reading this one, I think there were parts of the story that felt a little slow. For example, the painting for which this novel is named, doesn’t actually make an appearance until later in the book. Though it does play a larger role in the story, it just seemed that it could have come earlier in the novel. The story lagged in places at times but I don’t know that it was enough for me to give this book a rating lower than 4 stars.
There was enough within the story, historic details, and characters to keep me interested and invested in the novel until the end. The ending was a bit predictable but that didn’t bother me. I still enjoyed it and was happy with how things wrapped up. The way Cooper wrote the characters and brought them to life in a rich historical landscape was enough for me even if there were parts that were a bit slower or if the story was predictable at times.
Both the main characters, Elizabeth and Jane were strong female leads but neither overshadowed the other when it came to their stories or personalities. I felt invested in both of their stories equally and that doesn’t often happen for me in books with two female leads. I often find myself leaning toward one over the other but in this one, I felt invested in both of their stories without feeling that one character was more developed than the other. If you are a historical fiction fan you will likely love this one and the strong female characters make this one highly enjoyable!
Book Info and Rating
Format384 pages, Paperback
PublishedMarch 9, 2021 by Thomas Nelson
ISBN9780785240334 (ISBN10: 0785240330)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Thomas Nelson in partnership with HFVBT, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical fiction
Praise for The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper
“Deeply researched. Emotional. Atmospheric and alive. . . Tea Cooper transports the reader to a sweeping landscape of turn of the twentieth century Australia—from the raw realities of the Australian goldfields to the sophisticated institutions of Sydney—and does so with an expert pen. Combining characters that are wonderfully complex with a story spanning decades of their lives, The Girl in the Painting is a triumph of family, faith, and long-awaited forgiveness. I was swept away!” —Kristy Cambron, award-winning author of The Paris Dressmaker and the Hidden Masterpiece novels
About the Author
Tea is an award-winning Australian author of historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist, and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. She is the bestselling author of several novels, including The Horse Thief, The Cedar Cutter, The Currency Lass, The Naturalist’s Daughter, The Woman in the Green Dress, and The Girl in the Painting.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, March 9
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Wednesday, March 10
Review at Crystal’s Library
Friday, March 12
Review at Jessica Belmont
Monday, March 15
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Wednesday, March 17
Review at the.b00kreader
Monday, March 22
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks
Tuesday, March 23
Review at Heidi Reads
Wednesday, March 24
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Thursday, March 25
Review at Read Review Rejoice
Friday, March 26
Review at Hallie Reads
Saturday, March 27
Excerpt at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, March 30
Review at Rachelle Loves Books
Wednesday, March 31
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary
Enter to win a paperback copy of The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper!
The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.