I’m finally sitting down tonight to write up my thoughts on the first book featured in Harlequin Australia’s HERSTORY campaign! I really enjoyed Tea Cooper’s The Woman in the Green Dress when I read it last year (check out my review here), so I was excited to see whether I got along as well with her latest release – The Girl in the Painting. Spoiler alert – I totally did! Check out the synopsis and then we can talk more about it below!
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?
I thought this was a lovely read.
I find Cooper’s writing really easy to get into – in both of her books that I’ve read I have felt like I’ve fallen into the world of the characters really easily. I think this makes for a quick and comfortable read (even though not all of the issues discussed are necessarily comfortable).
I love the way that she writes strong female protagonists who are challenging the societal norms and what people expect of them, but still remain kind of gentle (or something?) – I think it feels quite authentic. I also really like that the women in this story aren’t in conventional family situations/roles -they aren’t mothers, or daughters to be sold off into marriage, AND romance wasn’t a strong theme throughout their stories (although there is a little bit of that). Both Elizabeth and Jane certainly fit with Harlequin’s HERSTORY theme of ‘Women who Rebel’.
The mystery aspect of the stories is something else I feel like Cooper does really well – I was quite charmed by trying to piece together Elizabeth’s mystery as Jane gathered information and clues.
Of course, I always love a book that weaves together two narratives from different times or places, and this was also done well in The Girl in the Painting.
I think this would be a great read for fans of Australian historical fiction centred around women – and certainly if, like me, you enjoyed The Woman in the Green Dress I think you’ll probably like this one too.
The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper
Release: Out now from Harlequin Books Australia (HarperCollins)
RRP: $32.99 Source: I received a copy of from HarperCollins Australia for review. All views are my own.
Category: Historical fiction, mystery, family