Cover Image: The Butterfly Collector

The Butterfly Collector

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I enjoyed this audiobook of The Butterfly Collector. I love reading books set in different countries and think Tea Cooper did a great job describing the different places in Australia this book takes place. I also enjoyed the dual timelines. One focused more on the butterfly collecting and how monarchs arrived in Australia. The more current timeline had a bit of mysterious intrigue. Sometimes with a dual timeline I have one that pulls me in more than the other, but I cared about both in this story. I do however think the timelines were a bit disjointed. I also felt like there were a lot of characters and I never quite got settled as to who was who. That may be because so many of them were related. It was just a touch confusing at times. The audiobook was really well done. I enjoyed the narrator's voice and storytelling. Overall I gave this a 3.5 star rating and would be willing to read more from this author.

My thanks to NetGalley and Harper Muse for the ALC of “The Butterfly Collector”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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** spoiler alert ** Butterfly Collector is a historical fiction loosely based on a true story of Monarch butterflies first being spotted in Australia in 1800s and connected with a complicated history of a few local families. The story jumps between 1860s and 1920s.

What I liked:

• multiple characters are journalists and there’s quite a bit of talk about the craft and approach to writing
• strong female protagonists and themes of equal rights
• likable main characters and supporting characters that come alive with quirks and stories
• the main mystery sort of makes sense although the twists are not as ground breaking as I hoped. It is given a tidy ending nevertheless.
• I really enjoyed the energy between Sid and Clairy (I hope I’m spelling the names correctly, I listened to the audiobook). It was loving and good, and gave me a great feeling.
• the butterfly mystery is nice

What I did not like:

• it was not an easy book to get into. It took me a few chapters to figure out what was going on and how all the characters were connected. I think reading it would have been easier than listening to it.
• maybe it will be fixed in the edits but the reader is very breathy. At 1.25 speed she sounded like a friend who ran up the stairs to tell me a secret and can’t wait to catch her breath before she spills the beans.
• some things did not make sense - why would a man in charge of a shady charity that’s dealing with money issues want a journalist to look into it?
• the roles of the players in the baby farming business and their motivation are never explained. We hear theories of Verity and Arlo, but no perpetrators are ever confronted or given a chance to explain why they thought it was ok to do something so awful to babies and families - money or no money.
• if the babies are sold for profit and the organizers are keeping a spreadsheet of all expenses, why are they so casual about the babies dying? Why don’t they try to care for them better - at least to make the money? It’s like they need to be evil to kids on all fronts, even when it defeats the purpose of the whole business.
• the whole part about returning the ledger and then snatching of back is kind of silly.
• the return of Charlie to his parents is described as a side note after a conversation with a side character - after we spent pages on that complicated boat chase. Why not give the reader the satisfying finale with Sid emerging from the basement with a child in his hands?
• I get the paper editor not wanting to implicate the lives of Theodora who he loves and her family, but because nothing was done, the criminals continued to sell babies for 40 more years. What the hell? They could have figured out a way to tell the police something.
• the whole Stella story (dressing as a man, sending the invitation, following Verity around ) gave me a bit of hope for sapphic romance, and then she is revealed to be a former love of Verity’s father. I got a weird feeling about that.
• Stella’s child is not returned to her - definitely realistic but we could have gotten a better conclusion for that subplot, instead of “she looks like her father, her parents agreed to talk to me sometime.”

Overall, I enjoyed it.

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The narrator "tries" a bit too hard when speaking an older character, although I will prefer animated to bored any day when I'm listening to a book. The different timelines are well-handled and easy to follow in audio. I enjoyed the colorful characters' dialogue and that it sounded authentically Australian (to my North American ear for what that's worth). The idea that the babies of poor women will be better off "sold" to more affluent families is apparently a reprehensible and universal phenomena. And now the pope speaks about the wide use of "surrogates" - In any event the story is captivating and the motif of the butterfly works well. I will read more of Tea Cooper.

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This story is beautiful in so many ways, yet it’s very convoluted as far as information. I wouldn’t call it a mystery either, we as readers know, so let’s not market it that way it’s more historical fiction/drama. Next the whole gamete of characters is a lot. There are a lot of people to keep straight in two different timelines, its hard to keep up with who is who and how the are connected/related. Next let’s talk about the choice of title and cover - this eludes we will hear more about Theodora, that not the case. Next the narrration of the audiobook was hard for me, because of the nature of this book, the accents, the dual timelines, the many names of places I didn’t know of, all of those things contributed to this over 10 hour audiobook being hard for me at times. Emily is not the problem per say - but all those things combined make it hard

Now let’s get to all the good stuff - the Australian setting and use in this story is magnificent! The descriptions and details are absolutely amazing I felt like I was right there in Australia. The details surrounding the butterfly is sooo good. I feel like the baby farming was described very well too. Tea Cooper you have a gift for taking us right there in the story and letting us experience the surroundings so well

The authors note at the end is also worth mentioning, I was blown away by all the research and details that were included, and how well she explains what parts are fictional, and sharing her choices for this book. You can feel the labor of love and investment in the story and most of the characters, there are a few we dont get that much info but overall great job.

I really did enjoy this book, the narrator, and the story. I just had different expectations from the cover and the Goodreads write up - I did not realize how much was shared in it I figured that was a teaser but more than 1/2 the book is shared there. I dont like that element

Thank you to Harper Muse and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook - I look forward to more opportunities to read from Tea Cooper

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A blend of mystery and historical fiction, about Australia by author Tea Cooper. It highlighted a part of history that I didn't know about, which I appreciate!

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Audiobook rating : It was overall a decent experience. Mostly I prefer to have both side by side, the epub and the audiobook & that's why I had opted to request both. Luckily I got both around the same time. The narrator in this case did not use different voices or tones for different characters so it was getting confusing. It was not bad at all but I had to switch to epub in the end as I couldn't understand what was going on.

About the book : The butterfly collector is a historical fiction set in dual POV.

One is 1868 Morpeth - story of Theodora Brackenridge who lost her parents and brother to an accident. She is neither much attached to her three sisters nor interested in getting marital proposals. She wants to research about the butterfly she spotted in her garden. In her house, works Clarrie who is caring and devoted. Things go awry when Clarrie's son goes missing.

Another pov is 1922 Sydney where would-be and passionate journalist, a granddaughter of Sid - an esteemed newspaperman "Varity Binks" loses her job but at the same time receives an unexpected invitation to a masquerade ball with an extravagant butterfly costume. Sender unknown. As intrigued she is about the whole mystery, she is asked to write about prestigious Treadwell foundation , an institution that supports women and their newly born children in difficult times.

Both POV are connected with each other which becomes quite obvious in the start of the book itself. What unfolds later is dark and twisted mystery which has tried to come to surface several times in the past, nonetheless by Varity's grandfather even. What others know is just tip of an iceberg.

Overall I loved the writing, the prose was beautiful and had a rhythm. I just had figured out everything far too early in the story and it didn't come to me as surprise. I also didn't see the importance of butterfly and even the title of the book as it doesn't really contribute to the main theme.

Thank you Netgalley and Harper Muse for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

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This was a dual-timeline historical mystery about "baby farming" in Australia. (I had never heard the term before.)

In one timeline, Theodora Breckenridge is mourning the loss of her family and the support of her father as she strikes out in a different direction in life than her sisters. While they are anxious to rejoin society after a suitable mourning period, she longs to continue her studies of nature and the environment. But she's not too certain how to manage it without her father's support.

In the meantime, she is introduced to a young maid who has problems of her own, and the two work to help each other.

In the other timeline, would-be journalist Verity Binks has just lost her job due to returning soldiers needing work. But she's been told by her former boss that he'll buy anything she writes that's worth printing. In writing about a local charitable foundation, she uncovers a mystery that sends her on a wild goose chase to find answers that are buried in the past.

I found the story to be well-written and I enjoyed the characters. I loved the choice of name for Verity given her role in the story, since it's based on the Latin word "veritas," meaning "truth." And she is certainly responsible for uncovering the truth in this story.

Thank you to Tea Cooper, Harper Muse, and NetGalley for an advance review copy.

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The Butterfly Collector is a historical fiction mystery novel that reminded me a lot of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. It covers an important historical topic, baby farming in Australia, and is a tale of loss, gain, and found family. While I enjoyed the plot and premise for the book, I listened to The Butterfly Collector on audio and wished I had read it instead. While the book was slow-paced, it still held intrigue and mystery that captured my attention. My primary dislike was the narration. In all honesty, it was very breathy and hard to listen to. At times, I would have to shut off the book because of how loud and how frequently the narrator had to breathe. That sounds awful, but it ruined the book for me. Otherwise, it was a good historical fiction that brings an important topic to light.

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Thank you Harper Muse for accepting my request to read and review The Butterfly Collector on NetGalley.

Narrator: Emily Barrett

Stars: 2.5

I was bored. This would make a wonderful PBS Mystery Series.

The dialogue is so simple I find it nervosing. I did like some of the characters and liked how Cooper wrote a solid poor couple.

The butterfly portion was just not my cup of tea. The missing baby storyline I thought was done really well.

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This historical fiction book takes place in Morpeth and Sydney Australia across two different timelines. With one story following the unlikely friendship of Theodora and Clarrie as one discovers a new butterfly, one discovers she’s expecting, and both work together to help each other. The second timeline follows Verity as she struggles with her desire to be a woman writer in a man’s field. As the stories progress, a mystery builds and we slowly see how the stories are connected. The book was written and narrated very well, and I stayed interested in the development of the plot, and was super surprised by some of the connections. I do feel like I would have liked to see more character development on the 1922 timeline, but overall it was an enjoyable listen. I definitely recommend it for a fresh take on the historical fiction genre. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse Audiobooks for the audio ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Butterfly Collector is narrated by Emily Barrett, a skilled narrator, who made listening to this interesting novel a pleasure. It is a novel set in 1860's Australia and 1920's Australia. It is basically a very good mystery. One that I figured out before the story explained it. But that didn't matter. It is a well-written novel, researched diligently involving the discovery of the Monarch Butterfly in Australia, long after it was a common thing in Northern America.

Both stories are interesting. The chapters went back and forth between the two eras until everything is brought together at the end. I thought the female characters were well flushed out--I liked them. Since this is historical fiction meaning that much of both time periods is true, I have to believe that courageous women like our heroines lived then.

A reviewer on Netgalley wrote: "There’s a butterfly effect in chaos theory. You know the one, or at least the way it plays out in fiction, particularly in relation to time travel, that a tiny change halfway around the world creates incrementally increasing changes in circumstances the further one gets from that first new flap of the titular butterfly’s wings.

That butterfly effect turns out to be a metaphor for this entire story – complete with resultant chaos – even though there’s no time travel in the usual sense. There’s just a story that takes place at multiple points in the same time stream, with a particularly well-traveled species of butterfly at the heart of each of those multiple points."

She says beautifully what I wasn't able to articulate.
I look forward to reading more of Tea Cooper's historical fiction.

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I loved this book. A dual timeline mystery perfectly woven, with a perfect finish! I highly recommend this historical fiction mystery.

Many thanks to Net Galley and Harper Muse for an audio ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Creative historical fiction with a strong mystery twist and added romantic element. Very enjoyable. The narrator was top notch. The story interesting. The setting magical.

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I am a big fan of Tea Coopers dual timeline historical fictions books. I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of her latest release The Butterfly Collector. Upon finishing the book I immediately purchased a copy to read it again.

The story has all the elements of the authors previous books that I have enjoyed including excellent research and rich descriptions.
In this book we follow an expectant mother and a woman searching for her families history. Whilst the ending felt a little rushed overall I enjoyed this story and look forward to more from this series in the future.

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There’s a butterfly effect in chaos theory. You know the one, or at least the way it plays out in fiction, particularly in relation to time travel, that a tiny change halfway around the world creates incrementally increasing changes in circumstances the further one gets from that first new flap of the titular butterfly’s wings.

That butterfly effect turns out to be a metaphor for this entire story – complete with resultant chaos – even though there’s no time travel in the usual sense. There’s just a story that takes place at multiple points in the same time stream, with a particularly well-traveled species of butterfly at the heart of each of those multiple points.

The monarch butterfly is a familiar sight in North America. But when and where this story begins, it was not, which is tied up in the very reason why the familiar Monarch is called Wanderer in Australia – because it somehow managed to wander from North America to the Land Down Under, a journey far longer than a butterfly’s lifespan, even if a colony could manage that distance out of sight of land on their beautiful but fragile wings.

So we first meet amateur lepidopterist Theodora Breckenridge when a then unknown to her wanderer butterfly alights on her fingers in 1868 outside the village of Morpeth on the banks of the Hunter River. In New South Wales, Australia. Where no monarch butterfly has EVER been seen to that date.

Just laid-off newspaper reporter Verity Binks’ introduction to the same species occurs in 1922, in the form of a masquerade costume for the upcoming Sydney Artists’ Masquerade Ball. She receives a package from an unnamed and un-guessed at benefactor, consisting of an invitation to the Artists’ Ball she could not otherwise afford – and a caped costume in the shape and form of a wanderer butterfly’s distinctive wings.

The link between Theodora in 1868 and Verity in 1922 is in the person of a third woman, Clarrie, and an unthinkably terrible but murderously profitable criminal enterprise that still cries out for justice.

A justice that Verity is determined to provide, whoever it hurts and whatever it costs.

Escape Rating B: I have to say that I ended up with mixed feelings all over the place while listening to and reading The Butterfly Collector. In the end, the 1922 story carried me through, but it’s the 1868 story that held the most bone-chilling horrors. Real-life horror, like revenge, is compellingly served ice cold – and the horrors of this story, based on real historical events – had plenty of chills to deliver.

I had two issues with this story, and the first one led to the second in a way that made the first half a fairly hard go for reasons that are certainly a ‘me’ problem but could also be a ‘you’ problem if we have some of the same inclinations.

One of the issues I’m finding increasingly hard to get through in female-centered historical fiction of any kind is the ubiquitous and nearly obligatory opening third – if not a bit longer – that details all the restrictions that women faced in whatever period the story is set in regards to having agency and independence. As this book alternates between three historical female perspectives, each of whom are hedged about by such restrictions on all sides, it took a lot of pages to get each of them into places where they had some freedom of movement.

In the end, I found myself following Verity’s part of the story in 1922 the most easily because Verity IS in a position to act on her own for reasons that are mostly tragic. Her parents and grandparents are deceased, she has no male siblings, it’s after WW1 which cost her her job as a newspaper reporter but doesn’t stop her from finding freelance work, which she does and which kicks off the mystery of the piece.

Neither Theodora nor Clarrie have true freedom of movement, Theodora for societal expectation reasons and Clarrie because of restrictions due to her socioeconomic class. That they are able to help each other eases those constraints for both of them, but it takes a while for the situation to reach that far.

That I was frustrated by the slow pace of the early parts of all their stories led to my second frustration. I began this book in audio, but the story was going slowly for all the above reasons and the actually quite good quality of the narration made it worse. Which may seem contradictory, but as the reader was doing an excellent job with the Australian accent – or so it seemed to my American ears – her reading cadence was slower than I could stand in a story that was already proceeding at a snail’s pace.

Once I switched to text it all got better, and I was able to finally be captured by the increasingly frenetic pace of the mystery of it all. Not just a terrible crime, but decades of a profitable series of terrible crimes come to light and sticks a knife into Verity’s heart AND her perceptions of her family’s history in a way that makes the whole story both sing and sting at the same time.

I picked this book up because I fell hard for several of the author’s previous books, The Woman in the Green Dress, The Cartographer’s Secret and The Girl in the Painting. While The Butterfly Collector didn’t work nearly as well for me as those earlier books, the heart of the mystery is both awfully compelling and compellingly awful, and it did engage me fully once the story really got into it. So while I’d recommend this particular book with some caveats, I’ll still be picking up the author’s next book, The Talented Mrs Greenway, when it reaches these North American shores.

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In 1868, Theodora Breckenridge is dealing with the loss of her parents and brother at sea. Her sister is ready to get her married off, but she has other ideas. She wants to just work on her art in peace at her family estate. With the help of her new maid, Clarrie, she hopes to draw a butterfly she has never seen before. She is inspired by a pair of local sisters who also illustrate. But then a newborn baby goes missing…

Flash forward to 1922. Verity Binks loses her job at a Sydney paper and gets a mysterious package containing a butterfly costume and invitation to a masquerade ball. There, she makes contacts and starts writing the history of the Treadwell Foundation. They help young unwed women who find themselves in the family way. Once she starts to research them, she begins to discover some dark secrets.

I loved the setting of this book. I’m a big Historical Fiction fan, but haven’t read many set in Australia. The years covered in this book were also interesting. Women were definitely not equals in society and the unwed mothers were basically shunned. The other aspect of this book I enjoyed was the lepidopterology aspect. In the age of Google, I don’t think about how all of these species were discovered and traced. As many of these dual timeline stories go, there is a connection that is seen near the end. The timing of this was well done. I was provided an audiobook version and the narrator was very pleasant to listen to and did a great job with the accent as well. I gave this a 4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Muse for providing me a copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.

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Captivating! The narrator did a fantastic job as I was truly submerged into this fascinating story. Really enjoyed the dual POV and how they tied together.

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The Butterfly Collector is a historical mystery set in the Australia of 1868 and 1922. It is told in these different immersive timelines. Cooper combines scientific history and social issues into a compelling story of love, loss, and betrayal.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley, Tea Cooper, Harper Muse, and Emily Barrett for providing this beautiful historical audiobook for my honest review. This book is so beautiful. The narrator did an excellent job and I loved every minute of this book. It was evenly paced and kept me intrigued throughout the entire book. There was mystery, historical aspects, and even a bit of romance. I also love the writing and how the author makes the story come alive. I can’t wait to read more from this author and to listen to other books from this narrator. Thank you again for allowing me to review this stunning audiobook.

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enjoyed the narrator. enjoyed the story as a whole although I found it hard to follow in curtain parts. It was difficult to follow the characters.

“A botanical illustration of a butterfly, a missing baby, and a twisty mystery fifty years in the making.”. The story was very interesting & heartbreaking at times. I'm still a little unsure of who did what and who was actually involved in the drama. Also, I didn’t really see the correlation of the butterfly collector with the main story of the missing baby.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I do think reading a physical copy could have eliminated the character confusion.

Thanks to netgalley for allowing me to listen to the audio version in exchange for an honest review.

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