Cover Image: The Girl in the Painting

The Girl in the Painting

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

What makes a family?  Can repressed memory clear up issues in our past?  Does true love always win?  These questions and many more confront the characters in The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper.  When Michael and Elisabeth Quinn leave London for their journey to Australia, they have not idea what lies ahead.  They soon found prosperity, happiness and a sense of community in their new country.  When Jane joins their small family, everything seems complete.  Then an innocent painting at an exhibition in their home town begins to bring up memories and questions about everything they have come to cherish.  Their lives begin to unravel.  As new and confusing facts become known, we learn how the decisions that each of these individuals made in the past have come back to impact and change their future.   Through the desire to learn the truth and to find true love, each find the answers to their questions and future.
Was this review helpful?
I LOVED Tea Cooper’s “The Girl in the Painting.” This is my first time reading a novel by this author and now I’ll look for more of her work. I’m a huge historical fiction fan and enjoy books with dual time lines so this was a perfect fit for me, and that aspect was well-handled. It had just the right amount of mystery that kept me guessing and turning pages. I liked that it’s set in Australia in a location I knew nothing about and a time period that, for Australian history, was new for me.

The author did an excellent job weaving together the two different timelines in a way that wasn’t confusing and was easy to follow, even though some of the characters exist in both timelines. The story is complex and entertaining. There were some good twists in the plot. I liked all the characters and thought they were well drawn and consistent. I especially loved the way the author described Australia during that time and the specific locations she chose.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for a good historical fiction/mystery novel with great characters and atmosphere, just enough suspense to keep you wondering, and bit of romance as well.
Was this review helpful?
I so enjoyed Tea Cooper's the girl in the painting. I listened to it as an audio book and I loved the strong characters, the mystery and the historical setting. 
Was this review helpful?
I was quickly caught up in this story. Jumping from multiple time periods and different narrators could have been tricky but I think they were carried off quite well. The characters were able to really flesh out and feel real. I loved trying to figure out how all the characters fit in the story line and watching the mystery unfold. This book was labeled a mystery/ romance. But I think it is more historical fiction/mystery. The romance is only touched upon and not much of the plot at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be looking at other stories by this Author.

I received an ARC via Netgalley but ended up finding the Audiobook on my Library's Hoopla app and listened instead of read. The narrator did a fairly good job giving voice to all the characters and their different accents.
Was this review helpful?
The Girl in the Painting is an enjoyable historical fiction novel set in Australia in the late 1800s during the Gold rush, with a dual timeline alternating with the early 1900s. Usually, I enjoy one timeline more than the other but in this case, I was equally interested in both and they come together beautifully by the end of the story.

This is both Jane's story as it is brother-and-sister duo Michael and Elizabeth's story. Jane is an orphan who is discovered to be a prodigy in math. She is taken under the wings of Michael and Elizabeth who further her schooling. As she grows into a young woman, Jane begins working alongside them in their business. When Elizabeth begins to have strange reactions to the art in an exhibit, and her mental health deteriorates, Jane's quick mind tries to gather the clues to try to discover what exactly happened to Elizabeth as a child and what mysterious past the duo has kept secret.

This was a good slow-burn mystery story with characters that are well-developed and a setting that taught me some Australian history. Jane was my favorite character and she propels the mystery forward. This is also an immigrant story brought to life when a young Michael and his little sister boarded a ship to go meet their parents in Hill's End, the rough Gold rush town filled with eager prospectors and Chinese immigrants. 

I particularly enjoyed how the author explored the psychological beliefs of certain behaviors, not yet understood at the time by the medical community. Well-written, with suspense and mystery, this historical novel is a good read.
Was this review helpful?
This was an entertaining story with interesting characters.  I haven't read many stories set it Australia and certainly not historical set there, so that made it stand out as well.
Was this review helpful?
I fell in love with these characters instantly! The storytelling is rich and nuanced, and I felt immersed in the setting. Although Michael, Elizabeth, and Jane each have their flaws, they are strong individuals who have endured and overcome their circumstances to thrive in the lives they have built for themselves. I'm not the biggest fan of dual timeline stories, but this was done so well, I felt like the past and present intertwining throughout the book enhanced my reading experience. I think what I loved about it was that the narrative of Michael and Elizabeth's early days in Australia didn't feel like is was being told as the past, it felt very much the present, as much as Jane's perspective which is set 30 or so years later. There is a compelling drive to the narrative that keeps a steady pace, even though the mysterious nature of Elizabeth's past doesn't emerge until the later part of the book. I enjoyed the cast of characters that brought depth to the relationships of Michael, Elizabeth, and Jane, and helped show their personalities and characteristics as they interacted. Although the amount of romance was light, it was sweet and just right for the story being told. Highly recommend to fans of historical fiction!

Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first time reading anything by Tea Cooper, but I really enjoyed The Girl in the Painting. It can be difficult to find a well-written dual-timeline novel, but Cooper does it well. 

The Girl in the Painting tells the story of orphaned Jane Piper, as well as the backstory of her benefactors, brother and sister, Michael and Elizabeth Quinn. Like Elizabeth, Jane has a mind for numbers and business and quickly becomes an important part of the Quinn's business. Everything changes when Elizabeth suddenly reacts to a local art exhibit, and Jane must do her best to find the answers behind Elizabeth's terror before it's too late. There were quite a few twists to this roller-coaster of a story, and some of them definitely took me by surprise! This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, but was also the kind of book I didn't want to end. I did wish the author hadn't including a few coarser phrases and words ("arse" and "what the hell" both make several appearances), as this is something I personally prefer to stay away from. 

The Girl in the Painting is full of excitement, suspense, hardship, and even has a little romance tucked in on the side. All in all, this novel is well-written and the storyline was fantastic. 

*I received a complimentary copy of The Girl in the Painting through the publisher and NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. My positive review is not required.
Was this review helpful?
A deeply layered story full of mystery, intrigue and redemption. Jane is full of wit and intelligence and I fell in love with her immediately. She cares deeply for Michael and Elizabeth, the philanthropists who took her in and gave her a new life. It is this care that motivates her to discover why calm, cool, and collected Elizabeth comes undone each time she sees a specific painting. The journey to the truth is full of so many twists and turns, I held on with enraptured pleasure as it all came together. I enjoyed the Australian setting for this wonderful story as this has not been a common location and I learned a lot.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley and all opinions expressed are my own, freely given.
Was this review helpful?
Personally, I have not finished this book but I have read more than enough to know that I don’t recommend it, per se, there is content that I definitely do not recommend to younger readers along with cussing, taking the Lord’s name in vain, and a setting of unclear faith views though I’m leaning toward Catholic and Chinese views. Which is why I don’t recommend the book to readers 18 or under.

However, it has such a fascinating setting and is intriguing enough that I have found myself enjoying the book despite those facts and for readers of Clean fiction you may find some thing you like, and Christian readers should read with caution.

The characters aren’t the normal characters, the setting is not a setting I’ve read much if any of, and the story?! It has my full attention, I just personally don’t recommend it to younger readers, but those that are more mature and sure in their faith this story is very intriguing and I suggest you check it out with care toward the content.

I voluntarily received and reviewed a complimentary e/copy of this book which I received from the author/publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper is a dual-time mystery set in Australia over several decades. This is my second novel by Tea Cooper, and I have fallen in love with her writing. The complex blend of the timelines. The colorful and memorable characters. The artfully crafted historical landscapes of such a unique land and people. There is nothing to dislike!
The Girl in the Painting is a gripping story. The combination of blurry memories, secrets, and outright lies make for an unpredictable and un-put-downable book. I could not stop until I knew the full truth! Even though the hairs on the back of your neck rise up the closer you get to it. I hate to give away many details of the story because you will want to savor them all.
Overall, I loved The Girl in the Painting from beginning to finish, and I look forward to reading more books by Tea Cooper in the future. Any fan of dual-time historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy this book. 
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
“Jane clattered down twenty-nine timber stairs” and I was hooked. A nine year old powerhouse who finds all aspects of math the definition of life. She is scary smart, introspective and talks too much. She is an amazing little girl who has been an orphan since she was two weeks old. Under the tutelage of Michael Hughes and his sister Elizabeth she is to find a home, a career and a series of strange events that she will eventually help to untangle. 

Told in two timelines across the ocean from England to Australia interesting history is wrapped within the story. It was relevant, thought-provoking and informative. Ever heard of the “Fibonacci Sequence, the Golden Mean”? Tea Cooper manages to incorporate it into her story and even make the perfect shape of nature understandable. It is all about the math and mathematics runs through the story in the best way. It defines the women, it helps to clarify the story but the reveal is in the title and that is a little long in coming. 

This is a really good book with strong vibrant characters, greats descriptive writing and just a bit of weakness in wrapping up the plot. Thank you NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for a copy.
Was this review helpful?
Jane Piper had no family, but she does have remarkable math skills. At the age of nine, philanthropist siblings Michael and Elizabeth Quinn take Jane from the orphanage she has always known and sponsor her education. By the time she finishes high school, she has taken on the running of the Quinn’s auction house business. 

The successful Quinns have orphan roots, just like Jane. But when Elizabeth has a mysterious reaction to a local museum exhibit, Jane wonders if her past holds more than even Elizabeth can remember. Can Jane help her benefactress uncover her past before the whole town of Maitland turns against the people who have changed her life forever?

Why I Loved this Book

The Girl in the Painting combines history, mystery, and rich cultural details from Australia’s past. I love the quirky characters—Jane struggles with social awkwardness—and the cameo appearances by characters from The Woman in the Green Dress. I have great respect for authors who tell the truth about how minorities have been treated historically and respect indigenous groups. 

Unlike many inspirational historical novels, this story is light on romance and probably asks more questions than offers answers to spiritual questions. Readers who love Kristy Cambron will enjoy The Girl in the Painting.
Was this review helpful?
The Girl in the Painting is both historical fiction and a mystery that paints a picture of colonial Australia.

This is a dual timeline book, with one storyline following Michael and Elizabeth, a pair of Irish siblings who immigrate to Australia in the 1860s, and the other following Jane, an orphan who is taken in by these siblings in 1906. After Elizabeth reacts in terror to a painting at an exhibition, Jane is determined to figure out what from Elizabeth's past caused her panic.

I loved the character of Jane. She's a mathematical genius who doesn't care much about the rules of society. The details about her constantly leaving scraps of paper everywhere and trying to remember the "proper" way to walk really made her character come alive.

All the characters are searching for a place to call home, whether that is in a new country or finding a family to belong to. At first, I found the story a bit slow, but as the mystery started to unravel, I enjoyed seeing the secrets being revealed. There are lots of interesting historical details, too, especially about the gold rush. 3.5 stars

Thank you to Thomas Nelson, NetGalley, and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for a copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
I so wanted to love this book and sadly I couldn't connect with the main character. I loved that it was set in Australia which was a huge draw for me. I will give this another try at a later time. I don't believe it was the author I think it was me for some reason.
Was this review helpful?
Highlight of my reads this year. Historical novel with a great mystery of a storyline and a title that defines the plot.  An Irish immigrant’s journey from the port of Liverpool to the harsh reality of life in the Australian goldfields. Just love a novel with drip fed facts of historical events. The story is told in a series of flashbacks. Michael and Elizabeth Quinn arrive in Sydney in the hope of being reunited with their parents who have gone to prepare a life for them. After the gold rush dissipates they make their home in the new prosperous town of Maitland New South Wales.  Thankful for the life they have created they take in a young gifted child from the local orphanage and with a thriving auction house business their life appears complete.  However a visit from a British artist to the area creates a strong response in Elizabeth and stirs up repressed memories.  Great read and looking forward to reading more by the same author.

Thanks to Netgalley the author and publishers Thomas Nelson for an ARC of this book in return for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
The Girl in the Painting is a historical novel set in Australia. Most of the book takes place in the early 1900's (1906 - 1910's) when Jane Piper is placed by her orphanage in the home of brother and sister Michael and Elizabeth Quinn. When Jane goes to an art exhibit with her Aunt Elizabeth, Elizabeth has a panic attack and ends up sobbing on the floor. Jane works with her Uncle Michael to unravel the mystery of what has upset Elizabeth so profoundly. The book flashes back to the early years of Michael and Elizabeth as they traveled from England to Australia as children.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed the author's previous book The Woman in the Green Dress.

This is a fascinating and unusual read. The complex story is set primarily in early 1900's Australia but flashes back to the childhood and youth of Michael and Elizabeth Quinn. Jane is a brilliant child/young woman who is a math prodigy. Her deductive skills come in handy as she works to find out the mysteries of Elizabeth's childhood that is impacting her present.

There are so many intriguing aspects of this novel - the gold fields where Michael works in his youth, the life of Chinese-Americans in Australia during this period (seen through a close friend of Michael whom Elizabeth becomes interested in), life at the auction house, the role of women during these times. I also found the artist Marigold and her work fascinating. For instance:

"She peered more closely. A weathered church tucked into the fold of the hill surrounded by ancient headstones, tilted like old men’s teeth, every patch of lichen highlighted. Several sarcophagi, chipped and worn, and to one side a large circular burial vault. Jane moved a little closer. All the other pictures had cards next to them describing the painting, but not this one. There was something about it that appeared familiar. She glanced over her shoulder. Mrs. Witherspoon was nowhere to be seen, so she hoisted the picture from the hook, turned it around, propped it against the wall, and crouched down. A small piece of paper glued to the back rewarded her ingenuity. Marigold Penter, The village church, 1889, oil on canvas And then she remembered. The wife of the self-confident man who’d annoyed Michael at the gallery in Sydney. It must be one of the pictures he’d been talking about. She studied the vibrant colors and wide brush strokes, the way the light glanced off the church windows, and the long shadows thrown by the circular vault, then she spotted the girl, almost hidden beneath the wide branches of a tree. She could hardly tell the color of the clothes the girl was wearing, all a pale gray-blue, almost as though she were fading away. It looked as though Lucy had spilt bleaching powder all over her." (eBook location 1108).

I found the mystery in this novel very intriguing and ended up reading it in just two days because I wanted to know what happened next. There were twists and turns and twists again. 

I recommend The Girl in the Painting for fans of historical fiction and especially for anyone interested in Australia and historical fiction involving art.
Was this review helpful?
Beautiful cover. Interesting plot. Worth the read.

I received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Was this review helpful?
Travel back into the early days of Australia. This time-slip novel covers the lives of one family's experiences of living in Australia over several decades. The plot does slip back and forth between their present (1913) and their past. Usually I did not have a hard time following what the chapters were following.

One of the central themes in this book is a mystery. The title gives a bit of a clue.  There were quite a few details that seemed random but were connected in the end. I cannot expand much further on this topic because I would definitely mention a fact that would spoil the plot. By the end, I had figured out quite a bit. But I definitely had no idea how the story was going to come together when I was in the middle of the book.

The characters were strong. The plot was intriguing. I have not read a book set in early Australia before, so I do think that the setting was also unique.

Art does play a part in the story. But this is not about famous artists or paintings. The featured artist is fictional.

One important detail to note: Thomas Nelson has been known for publishing Christian fiction, but I think that has changed a bit over the last several years. This book is clean overall. But there were a few minor swear words that may surprise a few people who were not expecting any language from this publisher. 

Also the spiritual elements were a bit confusing. This book is not exactly religious in nature, and the few scenes that discussed God almost implied that He should not be a factor in life and that there were many acceptable spiritual roads.  This could bother a few traditional Thomas Nelson readers. While this "diversion" was not completely a deal breaker for me, I think I was disappointed. The uncertainty of beliefs about God did not fit in with the strength of the characters that was portrayed most of the time.

Overall I did enjoy this book. I would probably be willing to read more by this author, but it would depend on the setting and plot. My final rating of this one is 4.3.
Was this review helpful?
The cover is gorgeous. Unfortunately, that’s where it ended for me. I just did not like the writing at all.
Was this review helpful?