The Girl in the Painting
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers Australia
Publication date: 16th December 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading
Maitland 1913. Miss Elizabeth Quinn is something of an institution in Maitland Town. For longer than anyone could remember she and her brother, businessman Michael, have lived in the impressive two-storey stone house next to the church. When she is discovered cowering in the corner of the exhibition gallery at the Technical College the entire town knows something strange has come to pass.
Was it the prehistoric remains or perhaps the taxidermy exhibition that had reduced the whale-boned encased pillar of society to a quivering mess? Or is there something odd about a striking painting on loan from the National Gallery?
Mathematical savant Jane Piper is determined to find out. Deposited on the doorstep of the local orphanage as a baby, she owes her life and education to the Quinn's philanthropic ventures and Elizabeth has no one else to turn to.
As the past and the present converge, Elizabeth's grip on reality loosens. Can Jane, with her logical brain and penchant for puzzles, unravel Elizabeth's story before it is too late?
Ranging from the gritty reality of the Australian goldfields to the grand institutions of Sydney, the bucolic English countryside to the charm of Maitland Town, this compelling historical mystery in the company of an eccentric and original heroine is rich with atmosphere and detail.
As soon as I heard of The Girl in the Painting I was expecting to love it. Dual time line Historical Fiction set in colonial Australia; it already featured a few of my favourite themes. And I’m happy to say Tea Cooper didn’t disappoint. The Girl in the Painting is totally immersive. I was hooked right from the beginning. William and Elizabeth Quinn are immediately likeable and young Jane Piper’s character is quirky and endearing.
The Girl in the Painting is set in the New South Wales towns of Maitland in the early 1900’s and Hill End during the gold rush years of 1860’s.
Cooper uses true historical events to set the story solidly in its time and place. I do enjoy a strong female character and both Elizabeth and Jane are characters that are independent and intelligent. Elizabeth instills in Jane independence and the knowledge that women should and can look after their own business affairs.
The Girl in the Painting is an engrossing story featuring a compelling mystery that will keep you turning the pages.
My rating 5/5
This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge
and book #36 in the Australian Women Writers challenge
Tea Cooper is an established Australian author of contemporary and 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 and The Woman in the Green Dress.