Book reviews

The Girl in the Painting is the first book I’ve read by best-selling Australian author Tea Cooper.

The story follows a young orphan, Jane Piper, who is a mathematical genius. Jane was educated and brought up by a rich brother and sister in Maitland, NSW in the early 1900s.

When Jane’s benefactor, Miss Elizabeth Quinn, had a mental breakdown at a local exhibition, Jane began investigating the cause of her reaction to a painting in the gallery.

The story flips back and forwards in time from around 1850, when Elizabeth sailed to Sydney with her brother Michael to meet their parents who had emigrated to Australia before them, to the present day story which is in 1913. Some of the scenes are set on the goldfields and others in newly settled towns. At the time Sydney was a rough and tumble place.

I was intrigued by Elizabeth’s early romance with a Chinese man, Jing, who worked for her brother. Michael separated Elizabeth and Jing very quickly when he realised they loved each other.

The characters were strong and the story-telling is good, but I felt as if the story was too long, possibly because historical sagas aren’t my preferred style of reading. I will however pass this book on to my mother and I expect she will enjoy it enormously. Mum loves books by Kate Morton and The Girl in the Painting had a similar feel about it to Morton’s books.

My purchase of The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper goes towards fulfilling my New Year’s resolution to buy a book by an Australian author during each month of 2020 (March)

Comments on: "The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper" (7)

  1. Sounds interesting even if a bit long. I always wonder if authors who write about geniuses have to be geniuses themselves… it must be quite hard to make the characters seem authentically brilliant if you don’t have a good undestanding of the subject they’re supposed to be a genius at…

  2. I would have enjoyed reading more about the Fibonacci Sequence and how the characters used an abacus etc, but no…. The story was okay but I won’t read another by this author.

  3. Nice review! Sounds like a good read but possibly not for me.

  4. Thank you! Although this book really wasn’t my thing and I can’t imagine it being to your taste either I know it will be popular with readers who enjoy her books.

  5. Haha, thanks for pointing me to this Rose. I’m impressed that you are keeping up your Aussie novel plan. As you suggested this would probably not be for me, as I’m not an historical saga type of gal, but I am interested in the Maitland setting!

  6. I’ve got much higher hopes for next month’s novel!

  7. You’re teaching me again!

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