Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Girl in the Painting

 This was the first work by Tea Cooper that I have read.  After reading this historic fiction set in Australia I intend to read more.  

This book features 2 main characters who are a brother and sister ,Michael and Elizabeth Quinn, who have come to Australia from Ireland via England.  The story features a dual timeline that alternates between their arrival and establishing themselves in Australia to a more modern time in the early 1900s where they have taken in a young orphan, Jane and mentored her to work in their business with them.  

The story does a marvelous job of interweaving Elizabeth's growth and independence in the 1800s when they arrived in Australia with the developing relationship with Jane and her growth into a young woman.  There is a bit of a mystery that comes to light a bit more than halfway through the story which balances quite well with the initial story focus on the characters and their relationships.  

All in all it is a wonderful work with strong characters and an interesting look at the Sydney region of Australia that is quite different from the metropolitan city it is today.  Having visited Sydney it is hard to imagine it as the up and coming city that is found in this novel.  

Cooper does intersperse some bits of her native country's cultural history and development into the story.  There is a bit of discussion and information on the immigrant aspect of the nation that highlights the mixing of cultures doesn't always go smoothly anywhere and is not unique to the US.  

An additional sub story that I found interesting was the Gold Rush that occurs around the initial arrival of Michael and Elizabeth and plays a factor in their development of their personal wealth.  I did learn about some of the gold found in Australia while visiting their Mint in Perth so this was a unique way to have the story have a personal connection.  

All in all I found this book quite enjoyable and I think most fans of historic fiction would like it as well.  I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt there was some information that could have been wrapped up regarding Jane's past so that left me feeling a bit unresolved.  

The Girl in the PaintingThe Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very enjoyable historical fiction set in late 1800s/ early 1900s Australia. I enjoyed the strong female characters and the depth of the relationships they had with male characters in the story
It was interesting to see how the different immigrant populations interacted in the early days of the country- the English, the Irish, the Chinese. The context of the Australian Gold Rush was a piece of their history I wasn't too familiar with. All in all this was a wonderful work of historic fiction that had a bit of a mystery interwoven into the story.

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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #66
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes-   Australia
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #73
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #86
  5. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #11
  6. BooklistQueen   # 30. Set in Australia
  7. Pick your Poison #18-1 A book with the word "picture" in the title

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