Cover Image: The Butterfly Collector

The Butterfly Collector

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Member Reviews

This historical fiction novel switches between 1922, where an aspiring female journalist is trying to write an investigative report of an adoption scandal, and 1868 where a new young mother who works for a botanical illustrator trying to catch and record the first sightings of Monarch butterflies in Australia has to save her newborn son from kidnappers. The differentiation of the to different time periods was not significant and even the later 1920s seemed more modern to me. I would have liked more of the detail of the 1868 story to have been told as it occurred rather than what was discovered years later by the subsequent generations of these families.

I listened to the audiobook version which I found quite enjoyable to provide the authentic Aussie accents that I would not have gotten from just reading the text. The narrators voice was lovely and reminded me to Keeley Jones from the Ted Lasso series.

I liked the new cover art that is featured on NetGalley (I prefer this over the alternative version I noticed on Good Reads). I don't know that the title is really representative of what it was mainly focused on. I thought the capture and study of butterflies was just a minor detail in the plot of the story.

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This is a lovely book for those that enjoy historical fiction. The setting is Australia, and the lives of the different characters show the treatment of different people according to their station in life. Butterflies are a part of the book, but for me the more riveting story dealt with babies. I’ll not spoil the book for you, but I always appreciate learning a little more of history through well written historical fiction.

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I'll start with the end: I was very happy that I persevered with The Butterfly Collector which concluded beautifully. The key here is "persevered": the story starts slowly, with many, many disparate threads, and it takes a while for the reader/listener to come to care for any of the numerous characters and their problems. Even within a single plot line, the narrative is told from multiple points of view, another editorial choice that can distance the reader's attention. And for a contemporary American reader/listener at least, some of the word choices are odd: a wish is described as "never eventuated," among other examples. The many threads of the story DO come together, however, and in addition to the ultimately touching personal accounts of the characters in the 1880s and 1920s, there is a plethora of historic detail. The story takes place in Australia, but many of the social issues addressed were/are universal: marginalization of women, child abuse, and the rights of the powerful to write/rewrite history. In terms of butterflies, the account of the monarch butterfly's arrival to Australia was truly fascinating. All in all, I'm glad I experienced The Butterfly Collector, but readers/listeners need to be prepared for a long journey to a satisfying conclusion.

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A mystery wrapped in monarch butterfly wings. This historical fiction takes you to Australia spanning the years of 1868 to 1922. When an eager young female reporter is given a mysterious invitation to a masquerade ball she stumbles into a story that on the outside seems to humanitarian. An organization that helps to adopt children from families in difficulty to families wanting children. But as her investigative juices start to flow, Verity realizes that the story is much darker and involves her own family.

Themes: 🔁🦋🇦🇺🦘🤰👶🕵🏻‍♀️📰

My thoughts: 🙂🤓🥸


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This is a very nice, cozy, warm book to read. It’s not my genre,. I liked it however. The main character is pregnant with an illegitimate child back in the days when it was looked down upon. Also, she discovers an unusual butterfly that will make her famous one day. If this is your type of book, don’t miss it. Very well written, and narrated. Thank you Netgalley for providing this advance to audiobook to me.

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This is an excellent example of historical fiction, split into two timelines as they slowly weave themselves together.

The audio production was hard to follow at times. There was one narrator using the same voice for each timeline. It was confusing to follow along and could really have benefitted from multiple narrators to help keep the timelines straight.

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Ok I loved this. I started my audiobook journey with cozy mysteries set in the early 1900s so safe to say I love a historical fiction. Truthfully I had no idea where this book was going. I don’t read a large amount of straight fiction without some kind of murder mystery element often so I was skeptical. But I’m so glad I stuck with this book. It was incredibly well written and the narrator did an absolutely fantastic job. Completely fell in love

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Tea Cooper is masterful in this thrilling story set in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Australia. This is historical fiction at its best - a good mystery, a cast of characters full of connections, and a dash of romance. Loved this!

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The Butterfly Collector is a historical fiction novel told through dual timelines set in 1922 and 1868 in Australia. This is written with incredible attention to detail and full of interesting characters and history. I did find this to be hard to keep up with at times as there was so many subplots of things to keep up with however I did find this such a unique story with history you don't really hear about, especially seeing as this is on the darker side. Overall if your a fan of historical fiction I highly recommend this.

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This story felt like it would be a lighter plot but it went really dark, in dual timeliness, exposing the trafficking of babies who sometimes died after being stolen, and the ramifications this had for generations. It's a slow burn, with interesting connections and a curious mystery.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for an ARC of this audiobook.

The Butterfly Collector is a dual timeline historical fiction novel set during 1922 and 1868 in New South Wales, Australia. I have read other books by Tea Cooper and appreciate her research and attention to detail. I was unfamiliar with the narrator, Emily Barrett. I feel that she did a very credible job of helping the reader identify with the characters and engage in the story.

At first, the reader does not know exactly how the two timelines are connected. Early in the story, we learn the connection, but are kept guessing about the mystery and how all of the details fit together. In the 1868 timeline, I loved learning about the Monarch butterflies and how they made their way over to Australia. I found this to be a very engaging story. The dual timelines helped us learn about the various characters and gave us clues to the mystery and secrets covered up over the years. I feel that previous readers of this author will enjoy this new book.

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Name of Book: The Butterfly Collector
Author: Tea Cooper
Narrator: Emily Barrett
Publisher: Harper Muse
Genre: Women’s Ficton - Mystery & Thriller
Pub Date: November 28, 2023
My Rating: 3.7 rounded up
Pages: 400

This story is written in 1868 and 1922 in New South Wales, Australia.

1922 – Sydney: Story open when young Verity Binks loses her job as a reporter at the Newspaper ‘The Arrow’ as Mr. Bailey her employer wants to offer employment to returning servicemen.

When Verity arrives home Mrs. Carr her neighbor Mrs. shows her a parcel that arrived for her. It is actually a large package containing an invitation to the Sydney Artists Masquerade Ball, as well as a beautiful butterfly costume with a mask.
While attending the ball, she meets Mr. Treadwell, and he would like her to write an article prompting his mother’s charity. The Treadwell Foundation, it supports unmarried women who find themselves in a delicate condition and their babies.

1868 – Morpeth: Theodora Breckenridge lives with her three sisters Constance, Florence, and Viola as their parents and brother recently died in an accident.
Her sisters want to travel to Sydney to seek husbands. Theodora would rather stay home and completed a painting she started. Additionally she had discovered a butterfly in their garden which may be a first sighting ever in Australia. Her sisters cannot persuade her to go to Sydney. She stays at home and with the help of maid Clarrie, they aim to gain proof that the butterfly is native to America. However, when Clarrie's baby goes missing and both Clarrie and Theodora’s lives change,

. Theodora admires Harriet and Helena Scott, they once lived on nearby Ash Island and they documented the areas flora and fauna. Theodora discovers a butterfly, it’s never been seen before in Australia and it’s native to the Americas.

About the Author: Tea Cooper writes Australian contemporary and historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.
Loved the info at the back of the book both the Historical Note as well as the Acknowledgements –audiobook usually don’t include the acknowledgements.
In the Historical Note, Ms. Cooper] clarifies what is fact and what is historical fiction.
If interested in more info about the beautiful Monarch butterflies here is a link –

Want to thank NetGalley and Harper Muse for this early audiobook.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for November 28, 2023.

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A dual timeline book with twists and turns.
Interesting characters whose lives weave together in tricky ways! Pay close attention to keep track of all the details.
In Morpeth in 1868 Theodora Breckenridge discovers a butterfly which may be a first sighting ever in Australia. Her sisters cannot persuade her to travel to Sydney with them as they go to seek husbands. She stays at home and with the help of Clarrie, a maid, attempts to gain proof of her sighting. However when Clarrie's baby goes missing their lives take a very dramatic turn.

In Sydney Verity Banks wishes to be a reporter but it is 1922 and she has to leave her job to make way for men returning from the war. On the lookout for stories to write to try and gain herself recognition, she stumbles across a mystery involving adopted babies which seems to have great relevance to her own family history.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book

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In Victorian Sydney, Theodora has no intention of looking for a husband. She’s an artist and a scientist and is thrilled to discover an unknown butterfly. She’s ready to take the world of science by storm, until the baby belonging to her maid and good friend, Claire, disappears. Fifty years later, Verity Banks gets a commission to write a story about the Treadwell Foundation, a group that supposedly took in unwed mothers; but Verity uncovers the dark secrets behind the foundation and what happened almost fifty years before

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The Butterfly Collector is a historical novel by Australian author, Tea Cooper. The audio version is narrated by Emily Barrett. In 1922, Verity Binks loses her job as a stenographer at The Sydney Arrow, in favour of returned servicemen. Her boss does offer to consider her freelance articles for printing. On the same day, a costume, mask and ticket to the Sydney Artists’ Ball arrive from a mystery sender.

As the daughter of the late War Correspondent, Charles Binks, she is introduced to Mr Treadwell, whose mother began the Treadwell Foundation, for which he wants some positive publicity to attract funds. It sounds like a worthwhile organisation, providing support and care for unmarried mothers, but he seems reticent about his mother’s background, and Verity’s journalistic interest is piqued.

In Morpeth, in 1868, Clarrie loses her job as maid-of-all-work when Rev. Lodestar discovers she is pregnant. Her beau, Sid Binks has promised to take care of her, and finds a midwife who will allow Verity to leave the baby in her care and find work. Sid works at The Morpeth Want as a compositor, but lives in quarters with other “Want” men, quite unsuitable for a mother and baby. His boss, though, Redmond Kendall is an understanding man and he has an idea…

After a period of bereavement for their parents and brother, Theodora Breckenridge’s sisters are focussed on re-entering the social scene in Sydney. As a nature illustrator, she would much rather stay in Morpeth, helping ready the garden for winter and looking out for the amazing butterfly she’s spotted once only, apparently never before seen in Australia.

Verity research involves a trip to Morpeth, where she meets the current Want editor, Arlo Kendall, and from the archives and further investigation, she manages to uncover a shocking racket involving the adoption of illegitimate babies, something she’s determined to expose. And when she discovers a personal connection, it solidifies her resolve.

This dual timeline story is told by Clarrie, Theodora and Redmond in the mid-nineteenth Century, and by Verity and Arlo in the early twentieth Century. The depth of Cooper’s research is apparent on every page and her descriptive prose is very evocative: the sights, sounds and smells of both inner-city Sydney and the Australian bush are particularly well-rendered. There are some dramatic scenes and the element of mystery will keep the reader enthralled through to the final pages of this superb Australian historical fiction.
This unbiased review is from an audio copy provided by NetGalley and Harper Muse

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Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Muse, and Ms Copper for providing a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Emily Barrett (which is not a version listed on goodreads).

There was way too much going on in this novel to be a coherent story. The description summary is intriguing but I found the plot and aaaalllll the sub-plots to be overly contrived. Sure, it's fiction and that everything is inter-connected... but those ties weren't very deep. Overall, this book was disappointing. I suppose, "baby farming" is a controversial topic but what did you expect in the 19th and early 20th centuries when birth control wasn't readily available?

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