Title: The Girl in the Painting
Author: Tea Cooper
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publish Date: March 9, 2021
Source: TLC Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Australia, 1906
Orphan Jane Piper is nine years old when philanthropist siblings Michael and Elizabeth Quinn take her into their home to further her schooling. The Quinns are no strangers to hardship. Having arrived in Australia as penniless immigrants, they now care for others as lost as they once were.
Despite Jane’s mysterious past, her remarkable aptitude for mathematics takes her far over the next seven years, and her relationship with Elizabeth and Michael flourishes as she plays an increasingly prominent part in their business.
But when Elizabeth reacts in terror to an exhibition at the local gallery, Jane realizes no one knows Elizabeth after all—not even Elizabeth herself. As the past and present converge and Elizabeth’s grasp on reality loosens, Jane sets out to unravel her story before it’s too late."
My Two Cents:
In the late 1800s, Michael and Elizabeth go to Australia to reunite with their family. What they find is that the family they thought they were reuniting with is no more. So they are forced to build a new life in a new country that is often difficult to find footing in. Fast forward to the early 1900s, Elizabeth and Michael are older now and established. They pluck Jane out of an orphanage. She has a head for a numbers and easily slides into Michael and Elizabeth's lives, becoming more than just a partner in her business. In each other, they each find the family that they never had before and have been yearning for. Jane is happy with her new station in life so when Elizabeth begins to face a lot of different troubles that seem to affect both her physical and mental well-being, Jane is especially concerned about unraveling how Elizabeth's past continues to shape her present. This is a great historical fiction with a brush of mystery!
I loved the characters. The author does a great job of showing what motivates Michael, Elizabeth, and Jane. Each of them has so much tragedy in their backgrounds that drive them to do whatever it takes to prevent tragedy from striking again. Jane was especially interesting to me. We get to see less of her background but the way she finds herself involved with Michael and Elizabeth was fascinating. Jane speaks before she thinks things through but she has a gift for numbers. Although she doesn't show it, she really cares for Michael and Elizabeth and the way she dives in to uncover Elizabeth's past when she starts to have seemingly unexplained mental episodes was really endearing.
I loved the mystery at the center of this book so between that and the wonderful setting, I was hooked! I have read so little historical fiction set in Australia. I loved reading about what it was like both when Michael and Elizabeth first arrived and when Jane meets both of them in the 1900s. The author does a wonderful job of bringing Australia to life, a place where so many people with such different life stories and from so many different places came together. The detail was rich and I loved how vividly everything was described. You can see the streets, you can smell the air - this really was a treat!
Historical fiction lovers who like great settings and secrets will enjoy this book!