The Naturalist's Daughter

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Pub Date Aug 20 2024 | Archive Date Sep 20 2024

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Two fearless women--living a century apart--find themselves entangled in the mystery surrounding the biggest scientific controversy of the nineteenth century: the classification of the platypus.

1808 Agnes Banks, NSW

Rose Winton wants nothing more than to work with her father, eminent naturalist Charles Winton, on his groundbreaking study of the platypus. Not only does she love him with all her heart but the discoveries they have made could turn the scientific world on its head. When Charles is unable to make the long sea journey to present his findings to the prestigious Royal Society in England, Rose must venture forth in his stead. What she discovers will forever alter the course of scientific history.

1908 Sydney, NSW

Tamsin Alleyn has been given a mission: travel to the Hunter Valley and retrieve an old sketchbook of debatable value, gifted to the Public Library by a recluse. But when she gets there, she finds there is more to the book than meets the eye, and more than one interested party. Shaw Everdene, a young antiquarian bookseller and lawyer, seems to have his own agenda when it comes to the book. Determined to uncover the book's true origin, Tamsin agrees to join forces with him.

The deeper they delve, the more intricate the mystery of the book's authorship becomes. As the lives of two women a century apart converge, discoveries emerge from the past with far-reaching consequences in this riveting tale of courage and discovery.

Two fearless women--living a century apart--find themselves entangled in the mystery surrounding the biggest scientific controversy of the nineteenth century: the classification of the platypus.


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ISBN 9781400344710
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Featured Reviews

I loved this book. It is a very unique historical fiction book. The plot was very interesting and I loved the hint of romance.

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5 stars

What an excellent story. A woman sends a letter to the Library asking them to accept a set of nature notes. Tamsin is sent to collect the book. On the way she meets a solicitor/bibliophile who is representing the daughter of the lady. Mrs Rushworth is demanding the notes are authenticated and then sold so she can have the money. Tamsin is angry and then starts to learn about the author of the book. The other chapters are the story of Rose who is the Naturalists daughter of his heart and when he is injured by the platypus has to take the notes to England to give them to the Botanical society. There's lots of coincidental links which I think is a function of this author's work but I do like her writing.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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If readers are not familiar with Tea Cooper, I believe it is time to start reading her novels. She writes Australian fiction that brings the world of Australia and science together. I have adored Elizabeth Camden who brings American history to life. Cooper does the same thing with science discoveries in Australia. I am not a fan of science. It was the class that I hated in school. I enjoyed the Math part of Chemistry but that was all. However, with The Naturalist’s Daughter, Cooper uses two different time periods, both in the past, 1808 and 1908, to show the importance of family and the discovery of platypus. I loved how Cooper kept piling on the mystery. Every time I think the 1908 heroine may be closer to solving the mystery, Cooper throws in a different twist that makes me want to keep reading. The amount of historical research involved is mind-blowing. To make the observations realistic, Cooper had to have spent tons of time diving into the world of what makes a platypus. From its skeleton, to its breeding process, and the venom they have to defend themselves. The characters are three-dimensional and lifelike. I enjoyed this story and hope Harper Muse keeps publishing her backstories so readers can read them. Highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of The Naturalist’s Daughter by Tea Cooper from Harper Muse Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

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First and foremost, a huge THANK YOU to NetGalley, publisher Harper Muse, and author Tea Cooper, for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. Publication date is currently set for August 20, 2024.

It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.
— Sir David Attenborough

One of my favourite authors to read is Australian author, Tea Cooper. A juggernaut in the Australian historical fiction genre. Cooper's ability to weave a compelling fictional narrative around highly interesting, yet not well-known aspects of Australian historical events is outstanding. With The Naturalist's Daughter, Cooper has managed to rocket one of Australia's most intriguing animals right into the spotlight.

Cooper combines the history of science and scientific facts together with her fictional characters to create a plot that was interesting from beginning to end. Honestly, at this point, if the author wrote a novel about the history of growing grass, I'd read it, because she would make it interesting and worth my time reading.

This is a story of science, of scientific discoveries, of family and family secrets, and lastly, it is a wonderful tribute to one of the most unusual creatures in the animal kingdom. Nature truly is wonderful.

Two timelines. Two young, independent, strong-minded women who are both battling a patriarchal society in their quest to uncover the truth.

1808 Agnes Banks, NSW - Naturalist, Charles Winton has spent his life studying the life cycle and habitat of a uniquely reclusive little creature, which the people indigenous to the area called the 'watermole' or 'mallangong'. This little creature was described as duck-billed, beaver-tailed, and otter-footed. Naturally, many early European naturalists were baffled by this description and as such considered it a hoax, claiming that it was made from several animals which were then sewn together.

Rose Winton loved nothing more than to accompany her father on his trips to the water hole, where she would watch her father sketch and document the mallangong. Every year her father would collate his research and send a copy of the more meaningful parts to his mentor in London, scientist, explorer and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks.

So impressed by his research, Banks writes to Rose's father, issuing an invitation, inviting him to speak to the members of the prestigious Royal Society in England and present his findings on the mallangong. But in a cruel blow, Charles became too ill to travel, after being spurred by the little creature he spent his life studying. Not able to present his findings to the Society in person, Charles urged his daughter to present their findings on his behalf.

1908 Sydney, NSW - Tamsin Alleyn is travelling to the Hunter Valley and retrieve an old sketchbook which was gifted to the Mitchell Public Library by an unknown benefactor. It's her job to authenticate the book as genuine or fake and, if the former, to speculate on its worth. The sketchbook contained drawings and research notes on the platypus as far back as the early 1800s. If this proved to be authentic, it would change the course of history.

Retrieving the original sketchbook and then researching its history, Tamsin discovers that she has a familial connection to Rose Winton. It's now that two seemingly separate personal histories merge into one.

A compelling and well researched storyline and a beautiful tribute to one of our much loved and unique species.

If you would like to read a book that has a good dose of Australiana and its early history, sprinkled with a goodly amount of mystery and maybe a little smidge of romance thrown in, I can highly recommend this book (and others) by Tea Cooper.

The Butterfly Collector
The Fossil Hunter
The Woman in the Green Dress

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I was hooked from the cover and so glad I was able to read this book. The concept worked with what I was looking for and enjoyed the historical element to this. The characters were everything that I wanted and enjoyed the two time-periods in this book. Tea Cooper does a fantastic job in writing this and loved the mystery element to this.

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The Naturalist's Daughter is a fantastic book to get lost in. The characters are so real. The mysteries in the plot are twisty and surprising. I loved to cheer for my favorite characters and loathed the villains. And all the while, the charming platypus is never far from view.

This is a great rainy day or beach read as it's nothing terribly complicated but has plenty to keep the reader guessing and invested. I was so invested in the characters, I kept thinking about them between reading sessions. How I would love to sit on a sunny riverbank with the characters and watch the platypus play. I would have liked to know more about Rose's mother, though. I found her story so compelling and heartbreaking.

This was my first book by Tea Cooper, and I just bought three more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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