Cover Image: The Butterfly Collector

The Butterfly Collector

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Member Reviews

The Butterfly Collector is a dual timeline story set in 1868 Morpeth and 1922 Sydney. Theodora Breckenridge, is mourning the loss of her parents and brother at sea. She enjoys working on her art at the family's country estate, not looking for a husband in Sydney society like her sister wants her to do. She is a nature illustrator and is thrilled when she discovers a butterfly never seen in Australia. She is on the verge of making a name for herself when her maid, Clarrie's son goes missing. In 1920s Sydney, Verity Binks has just been let go from her reporting job. Women, who were welcomed to the workforce to fill the slots of men who had gone to war, are now being sent home to open jobs for those men to return to. Her boss loves her writing, so offers to purchase freelance stories from her, at least it will keep her in the business to a degree. When she is invited to a masquerade ball, she goes to find out why she was invited and gets a tip on a 50 year old mystery/crime. Can she solve it and get a break to force her boss to hire her back?

I've been putting off this review because I wasn't sure what to say. The writing is beautiful and lyrical. It is descriptive and tells a wonderful story, all good. The problem was, I was not drawn into the story at all. The storyline in the past was long and drawn out. The 1920s storyline was a bit more interesting. It moved quicker and I did enjoy Verity Binks. She was a great character, one who didn't give up and was gutsy. As she uncovered secrets about her family, she learned about the selling of babies under the guise of adoption. Both of the storylines blended well into one another, with both women being strong, independent women. I listened to this book and think I might have enjoyed it more had I read it. There were times I was a bit confused and had to go back and listen to sections again. Having said that, the narrator, Emily Barrett, does a nice job with the story. Overall, I just didn't get into this story the way I thought I would based on the blurb. If you enjoy historical fiction and dual timelines, I recommend you give it a try as there were many people who loved this book, and this is just my personal thoughts.

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I listened to this audiobook and greatly enjoyed it. The two different storylines were a bit confusing at times but overall, it was a well written story.

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I started reading this book totally blind. I didn't even check the reviews on Goodreads. I wanted to be surprised and I was, pleasantly! At first, I thought it was just a book about a woman wanting to make it big in the news world dominated by men, but it turned out to be something more. I love this and highly recommend it to those who like historical fiction. The author has a way with words and I loved the narrator too. She made the story more interesting.

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Thank you publishers and Netgalley for this audio arc in exchange for an honest review.

I found the blurb really interesting but couldn't get into it. For some reason it felt like a chore.

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I love dual timeline books, and this was no exception! What seems like two completely separate stories converges into one at the end. And bonus - the author tells what parts she made up and what actually happened.

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Unfortunately did not finish, I wasn’t engaged enough. I didn’t have anything I didn’t like about the story just didn’t love it. I’m not going to post a review because I think this is a matter of personal taste so I don’t want to write anything negative about it

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Tea Cooper's The Butterfly Collector is an amazingly interesting historical fiction about women's journalism and baby farming through the two perspectives of two Aussie women, 30 years apart. The 30 year difference from two different perspectives eventually intertwining makes for an amazing story about the strange history of baby farming. In the beginning, I thought this would have mostly be about naturalists discovering monarch butterflies showing up in Australia, but I was surprised when the story starting addressing the issue of baby farming in the countries history. I have read/heard about this subject before and the negative consequences or stories about it afterwards. The book's plot gradually introduces the topic, but the use of journalism and in-depth research done by the characters excited me about the book the most. Overall, I loved the audiobook and will definitely recommend to other readers later.

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The Butterfly Collector is a work of historical fiction. We meet Verity Binks in 1922 when she loses her job as a newspaper writer because the war is ended and a man will take over. There is a second timeline, in 1868, where we meet Theodora who desires to pursue her passion and Clarrie, Verity's grandmother and a maid. There is love in this story, as well as heartbreak. We learn about women being abused when becoming pregnant out of wedlock. There are secrets, and crimes and family mysteries. And butterflies thread the different storylines together. For the lover of historical fiction, and women's stories. Thank you @netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook.

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This is such an intriguing book. A dual timeline between 1868 and 1923. The book takes place in Australia and is about “baby farming” that took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
I really enjoyed this story; from the very beginning, it had my attention. It did start to slow toward the middle. I think with the amount of characters to keep track of plus it being a dual timeline, it got a bit confusing at times for me. Just about all characters have a connection to each other in one way or another, which I love; however, I did get it all tangled up a lot, so it occasionally got difficult to follow along. Although the characters and their stories were all so well written,
I really don’t understand the whole butterfly part of this book. It felt like a completely different and unrelated story from the rest of the book. It played a large part; it just didn’t seem to fit in.
I was listening to the audiobook, and I really enjoyed it. The narrator did an excellent job at making voice changes for each character. She also has a very nice voice that I enjoyed listening to.

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A really interesting historical fiction novel that I might have missed had I not been offered an advance copy. I loved the butterfly/science angle, along with women fighting for a job they're being denied for being...a woman.


I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.

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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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