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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 Quinns' 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.
PRAISE FOR TEA COOPER
'Boasts strong female protagonists, an infectious fascination with the past, and the narrative skill to weave multiple timelines into a satisfying whole...smartly edited, cleanly written...easy to devour.' - Sydney Morning Herald on The Woman in the Green Dress
'Cooper is a welcome inclusion to the rising ranks of female-centred historical Australian novels.' - The Herald Sun on The Naturalist's Daughter
Buy The Girl In The Painting by Tea Cooper from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
Book DetailsISBN: 9781489270726
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Book Review: The Girl In The Painting by Tea Cooper - Reviewed by CloggieA (20 Oct 2019)
5 stars The Girl in the Painting is a historical fiction novel by best-selling Australian author, Téa Cooper. In Maitland Town in 1913, Jane Piper is still counting her blessings that Michael and Elizabeth Quinn chose her from the orphanage. Not to adopt, but to further her education and realise an undreamt-of career as an accountant. In her first interview, she told Michael: “I like numbers, sir. See, they don’t lie, sir. Not like people. There’s only right or wrong, no in-betweens” and that still holds true.
But one day, at the Technical College with Elizabeth to view an exhibition, her benefactor takes a turn. What can have reduced this unfailingly poised lady to a gibbering mess? Aunt Elizabeth wants to ignore the whole episode, to dismiss it, but Jane can’t let it go. Especially when it happens again. She will use her deductive powers to learn what has affected her beloved patroness so.
Fifty years earlier, a sweet blue-eyed four-year-old girl slipped her hand into young Michael Ó’Cuinn’s as they boarded a ship for their assisted passage to join parents Michael and Aileen Quinn in Sydney. The news that greeted them on arrival was a shock, however, and Michael had to leave Elizabeth with the Camerons while he sorted out a place to safely raise a child: the goldfields at Hill End wouldn’t fit the bill, but that’s where his Da was.
Several narrators tell the story over two timelines, and Cooper easily captures the era and the setting. Her characters are interesting and engaging and it’s utterly impossible not to fall in love with little Jane from the first chapter. Cooper gives the reader lots of historical tidbits mingled with a good dose of intrigue and a hint of romance, and wraps it all in wonderfully evocative prose. Marvellous Australian historical fiction! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley, Better Reading Preview and Harlequin Australia
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