The Butterfly Collector
by Tea Cooper
You must sign in to see if this title is available for request. Sign In or Register Now
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add firstname.lastname@example.org as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 28 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 28 Dec 2023
A botanical illustration of a butterfly, a missing baby, and a twisty mystery fifty years in the making.
1868, Morpeth. Theodora Breckenridge, still in mourning after the loss of her parents and brother at sea, is more interested in working quietly on her art at the family’s country estate than she is in finding a husband in Sydney society, even if her elder sister Florence has other ideas. Theodora seeks to emulate prestigious nature illustrators, the Scott sisters, who lived nearby. She cannot believe her luck when she discovers a butterfly never before seen in Australia. With the help of her maid Clarrie and her beautiful drawings, Theodora is poised to make a scientific discovery that will put her name on the map. Then Clarrie’s newborn son goes missing and everything changes.
1922, Sydney. When would-be journalist Verity Binks is sent an anonymous parcel containing a spectacular butterfly costume along with an invitation to the Sydney Artists Masquerade Ball the same day she loses her job at The Arrow, she is both baffled and determined to attend. Her late grandfather, Sid, an esteemed newspaperman, would expect no less of her. At the ball, she lands a juicy commission to write the history of the Treadwell Foundation, an institution that supports disgraced young women and their babies. As she begins to dig, her research quickly leads her to an increasingly dark and complex mystery—a mystery fifty years in the making. Can she solve it? And will anyone believe her if she does?
The Butterfly Collector is USA TODAY bestselling author Tea Cooper at her best.
- Historical mystery set in Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s
- Stand-alone novel featuring two strong female leads
- Includes discussion questions for book clubs
- Also by Tea Cooper: The Fossil Hunter, The Cartographer’s Secret, The Girl in the Painting, and The Woman in the Green Dress
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 61 members
The Butterfly Collector is a historical novel by Australian author, Tea Cooper. 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 uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Harper Muse
A spellbinding dual-time narrative with two strong, independent female leads? Yes please! This book was absolutely unputdownable. It is a maze or a labyrinth that pulls you along its thrilling path to try and solve the mystery along with the intrepid, feisty Verity. This is a very original story, with Theodora more interested in butterflies and science than husband-hunting, but a terrible thing happens, and her hopes are...well, you'll have to read it for yourself to see what happens. All I can tell you is that it is a wonderful book that I could not put down and highly recommend. I can't wait to own a print copy for my own library!
I must say I am a huge fan of Tea Cooper novels and this is why I requested this book and it didn't disappoint. But I must say that when I started reading it I realised I had already read it. That is alright though as it was just as good the second time around.
The story of Theodora Breckenridge, a woman in mourning in a time (1868) when women were discouraged from having their own lives and when the thing to do was find a husband. But Theodora just wanted to work on her art work and this is were the story really begins.
And as this is a dual timeline story we move to Sydney in the 1920's where Verity Binks receives an invitation to a ball where her life changes as she digs up mysteries from the past.
This is a wonderful story about Australian History which is something we don't see enough of and it is so well written and researched you feel as if you are there within the book. The setting is wonderful, the story brings to life what life was like in past times and the mystery kept me enthralled and kept me reading.
Another great book by Tea Cooper.
Thank you NetGalley and Harper Muse for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.
I have never read this author before . But after reading this novel, I requested all her books from my library. This historical book set in Australia will draw the reader right in with all the strong female characters. Set in two different time periods, all center around the history of a particular type of butterfly. I loved it! For Kate Morton readers, this book is right up your alley.
Téa Cooper delivers again with The Butterfly Collector, a fabulous blend of history and fiction in a novel that kept me on my toes till the end. This dual timeline novel set partly in 1922 Sydney and partly in 1868 in the Hunter Valley Town Of Morpeth is a fascinating family history as well as an exposé of the baby farming trade that was rife at the time.
The story jumps effortlessly between timelines, keeping readers on their toes and guessing. The characters are real enough to step off the page and tell their own tales. The plot kept me on my toes and guessing through. This has been a wonderful read and is a story for my keeper shelf.
This was absolutely stunning! The plot was well-paced and captivating from start to finish. The characters were well-developed; complex, and intriguing. I highly recommend this beautiful telling of the power of love. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.
Tea Cooper has a great writing style for the historical fiction novel, it had a great mystery feel to it and it had everything that I was looking for. The characters had everything that I was looking for from the description. I enjoyed the historical setting to it and glad it worked overall.
Absolutely loved this story. It blended seamlessly between two different timelines both in the past from now, one in the late 1800’s and the other in the early 1900’s. So right from the beginning there is a very different and in some ways simpler lifestyle to ours that we get to discover. But simple in some ways became more complex in other ways when women were really looked upon as second grade citizens. Outcast if pregnant out of wedlock and major life decisions sometimes taken out of their own hands without them knowing. We get to know a group of people who’s lives are intertwined in a way that is not fully revealed until the very end. And then woven all through the book is the beautiful storyline about the butterflies. This would be a lovely book to read during a summer holiday or curled up by the fire in winter - just make sure you have plenty of time because it will be difficult to put down once you start.
Another winner from Tea Cooper! I adored this dual timeline story. Verity and Theodora are fascinating characters, and the format works well to explore their different stories.
The mystery of the butterfly is a wonderful way to connect the timelines.
Thoroughly entertaining and a fascinating exploration of two historical time periods. I particularly enjoyed reading about women's struggles to be independent and in charge of their own lives.
Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
And don't you just love that cover??!!
I received a complimentary e-galley from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review; all opinions are my own.
The Butterfly Collector is a many faceted historical novel set in two time periods 50 years apart but expertly woven together as the story unfolds. The many characters created the necessity to follow c!oddly to the details that help solve the various mysteries within the tale. It was entertaining and the true facts revealed are disturbing as all historical facts can be
Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Muse for the chance to read and review this book. The opinions expressed are my own.,
I have read all of Tea Cooper's books, and this is one of her best. This is a historical mystery that takes place in Australia. It is told through two timelines-late 1800's and early 1900's. The first timeline involves Theodora Breckenridge, who discovers a butterfly that has never been seen in the area where she lives. Things are going along great, until her companion's baby is reported missing. The later timeline is about a journalist named Verity Binks who becomes involved in solving a 50-year mystery concerning missing babies. The author does a great job tying these stories together. The plot moved along quickly and kept my attention. Tea Cooper will continue to be one of my favorite authors.
This was a beautifully written story! It has the perfect mix of history, intrigue, and a touch of romance. The characters and setting are enthralling and well written. I would recommend this for any historical fiction fans!
I absolutely loved this book. 2 timelines connected by 2 women. The story line is based loosely on truth and was a fascinating read. Loved the main characters and couldn’t put it down. Glad women have more rights today
I love it when a book starts the chapters out with the date and the location of what is coming up. Listening via voice view it helps me keep track of the timeframe changes. This was a big pro for the story.
Quite a few characters play out the storyline and it took me a bit to catch up with who is who. Sid and Clarrie were my favorites and Theodora was a gem. The author did a lot of research, and she portrayed the life and hardships of the timeframe of 1868 rather well. I can’t imagine the ship voyages they had to go through.
My only con for the book was towards the end there was so much going on between so many characters, I had to re-read and really think about who was related to who in order to understand the finale. But it finally all came together in a satisfying way. I would highly recommend if you enjoy a well-written historical fiction with some twists and turns thrown in. Another good one from Ms. Cooper.
I was provided an uncorrected ARC from NetGalley and Harper Muse for a voluntary review if I so wished, I thank them. This is a 5-star.
Time in duel timelines - 1860s and 1922 -
Two women struggling in a man’s world - a story about a missing baby connects the two - and a nefarious business selling unwed mother’s babies
Tea Cooper is a master at combining historical fiction with suspense and this was brilliant. Set in Australia with dual time periods, the character development is divine and the writing beautiful. For fans of Christina Baker Kline and Martha Hall Kelly.
"A botanical illustration of a butterfly, a missing baby, and a twisty mystery fifty years in the making.
1868, Morpeth. Theodora Breckenridge, still in mourning after the loss of her parents and brother at sea, is more interested in working quietly on her art at the family's country estate than she is in finding a husband in Sydney society, even if her elder sister Florence has other ideas. Theodora seeks to emulate prestigious nature illustrators, the Scott sisters, who lived nearby. She cannot believe her luck when she discovers a butterfly never before seen in Australia. With the help of her maid Clarrie and her beautiful drawings, Theodora is poised to make a scientific discovery that will put her name on the map. Then Clarrie's newborn son goes missing and everything changes.
1922, Sydney. When would-be journalist Verity Binks is sent an anonymous parcel containing a spectacular butterfly costume along with an invitation to the Sydney Artists Masquerade Ball the same day she loses her job at The Arrow, she is both baffled and determined to attend. Her late grandfather, Sid, an esteemed newspaperman, would expect no less of her. At the ball, she lands a juicy commission to write the history of the Treadwell Foundation, an institution that supports disgraced young women and their babies. As she begins to dig, her research quickly leads her to an increasingly dark and complex mystery - a mystery fifty years in the making. Can she solve it? And will anyone believe her if she does?"
Firstly, I am totally obsessed with Australia at the moment. Add to that a twisty historical mystery and I am all in.
Tea Cooper has an uncanny ability to join a story by threads of happenstance across several generations. This time in Morpeth, NSW (Australia). The story is connected by the central idea of a delicate painting of the first discovery of the Wanderer Butterfly, painted and researched by Theodora Breckenridge(unacknowledged of course!)
Add into this the tragedy of baby farms, stolen children and a woman who orchestrated these things, and we have a stunning expose across time delving into just exactly what happened in the Morpeth community between 1868 and 1922.
In 1922 Verity Binks, a struggling reporter and the daughter of the a now deceased war correspondent, is invited to write a piece about a charity, the Treadwell Foundation. The mover behind the organization is David Treadwell, husband to Theodora’s sister Florence . It’s in Treadwell’s home that Verity first sees the stunning painting of the Wanderer Butterfly.
As the circle closes it appears Verity’s grandparents came from Morpeth where the butterfly was painted.
I love the way Cooper’s writing transverses the Australian historical landscape as she weaves her storytelling magic.
Sublime descriptions of gardens lush and heavy with perfumed anticipation contrast against the fractured lives of the women and babies that intrude into a harsh reality. Darkness hides amongst them. Mystery and tragedy beckons!
Another heart stopping treat from Tea Cooper!
A Harper Muse ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
- Missing Infant/ Kidnapping
This is an unfair review.
Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Muse for an ARC of The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper
I deeply apologize however my life circumstances changed after requesting this book (New Mom Here) and the missing infant/kidnapping aspect of the plot was too “triggering” or difficult for me to continue reading at this time. However, I do have every intention of reading this at a later date (once the Hormones aren’t in full swing). That which I did read was remarkably good, I loved the dual timeline aspect of the story. Again I am sorry to the publisher that I was unable to review this book at this time or in the near future.
The links in this story were tenuous. An illustration of a butterfly, a missing baby (thankfully found) and
a mystery that lay unsolved. To add to the interest two time lines the early 1800s and 1922 Sydney. Both links involved feisty, courageous women. The women were not afraid to stand out against restrictive rules and they worked the system in their favor in whatever way they could.
The two individual stories were complicated. The earlier one was about Carrie and Sid and their earlier life which included their missing son and the baby racket that went on in Morpeth. Since big names were involved the story was not discussed or published. In the latter story Verity discovered the story and despite pressure from above got justice for the mothers whose children were given without their consent.
The story is not an unusual one - baby farms existed in every place but the cruelty of its practice because very few voluntarily gave up their children. The fact that it was highlighted at the end is a good ending because for some it could end in a reunion (which it did in this story).
There is something about Tea Cooper’s writing that makes you unable to put her books down, even when your eyes get sore like mine did reading, The Butterfly Collector!
1868 Morpeth: In mourning for the loss of her parents and brother at sea, Theodora Breckenridge is content working on her art at family’s country estate. With the help of her maid, Clarrie, Theodora discovers a butterfly never before seen in Australia. But when Clarrie’s son goes missing, everything changes.
1922 Sydney: Verity Binks feels her dream of being a journalist slipping away when she loses her job writing for The Arrow, but an exclusive invitation to the Sydney Artists Masquerade Ball and an anonymous parcel containing a butterfly costume, provide her with an intriguing writing job that sets her off on an unexpected path to find answers.
Theodora, Clarrie, and Verity are all strong women who know what they want and will stop at nothing to get it, whether that is capturing an elusive butterfly, looking after their child in the most difficult of circumstances, or excavating the past to unearth a fifty year old mystery.
This book ticked so many boxes for me. I love reading about artists and botany. I cannot get enough of Australia history and Tea Cooper does a great job of incorporating historical events into her books.
If you haven’t read any of Tea Cooper’s books and you enjoy historical fiction with a thrilling mystery at its heart, and strong female characters, look no further!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Thank you to Harper Muse for providing me with a copy of this book through NetGalley I could not possibly have been more excited when I got approved for this one!