I love historical fiction. Any time, any place, though I usually focus on the 1700’s-mid 1900’s. I must admit that I have not read any historical fiction books that take place in Australia. The Woman in the Green Dress was my first Australian historical fiction book, and I really enjoyed this dual timeline, triple POV tale.
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The Woman in the Green Dress
by Tea Cooper
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Paperback, eBook, & AudioBook
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.
After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.
In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.
This romantic mystery from award-winning Australian novelist Tea Cooper will keep readers guessing until the astonishing conclusion.
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“Readers of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams will be dazzled. The Woman in the Green Dress spins readers into an evocative world of mystery and romance in this deeply researched book by Tea Cooper. There is a Dickensian flair to Cooper’s carefully constructed world of lost inheritances and found treasures as two indomitable women stretched across centuries work to reconcile their pasts while reclaiming love, identity and belonging against two richly moving historical settings. As soon as you turn the last page you want to start again just to see how every last thread is sewn in anticipation of its thrilling conclusion. One of the most intelligent, visceral and vibrant historical reads I have had the privilege of visiting in an age.” —Rachel McMillan, author of The London Restoration
“Refreshing and unique, The Woman in the Green Dress sweeps you across the wild lands of Australia in a thrilling whirl of mystery, romance, and danger. This magical tale weaves together two storylines with a heart-pounding finish that is drop-dead gorgeous.” —J’nell Ciesielski, author of The Socialite
This story took me a few chapters to really get into, but once I did, I was hooked. Readers are introduced to three POVs:
- Fleur, 1918-1920. She is a young woman who finds out her husband died in WWI, though she is in denial. Fleur is left with his inheritance, which she doesn’t feel she deserves, as their romance was a whirlwind one and they had little time together. Instead of selling her new properties and collecting the money, she travels to Australia, the land her late husband, Hugh, loved. There, she is caught up in the mystery of an abandoned shop she inherited through Hugh as well as a family heirloom.
- Stefan, 1853. Stefan is an Austrian citizen and the aide-de-camp to a baron. He has traveled to Australia to complete the baron’s journals and to track down what could be the first opal mined in Australia.
- Della, 1853. Della is a young woman who has grown up in Australia. Her parents died, leaving her as the heir to the taxidermy shop they ran. Della’s aunt runs it for her while she lives in the countryside.
The tale slowly unravels and all of the multifaceted pieces come together. We are first introduced to Fleur, and then Stefan, but it is Della’s voice that initially pulled me in. Della is a young woman whose family came to Australia to follow her aunt, a former convict. Della is a taxidermist, and she is passionate about the land where she lives and the people and animals who inhabit it. She even has a pet kangaroo of sorts, a charming side character. Della is particularly concerned about the treatment of the Darkinjung people, the local Aboriginal people whom the settlers are extremely racist and violent towards.
In Stefan’s mission, he comes across Della, and the two form an attraction. Their romance is a soft relief against the mystery and intrigue of the main plot. When Stefan witnesses a raid against the Darkinjung people, he is appalled, and travels to Sydney with Della to seek justice. Della has not been to Sydney in a while, and she sees that the taxidermy shop she has inherited, now run by her aunt Cordelia, is not what it once was. From there, a mystery unravels that is closely linked to Stefan’s search for the opal.
In 1919, we see Fleur, who has inherited the shop. She seeks to find out how it is tied to her husband, Hugh. We see Fleur deal with so many stages of grief, first and foremost an adamant denial that her husband is dead. Fleur has lost so much in the war – first her parents in a zeppelin raid, and now her husband. In Australia, she really comes into her own.
I would be remiss not to mention the excellent side characters in this book. Bert, a young boy who winds up working for Stefan, is perhaps the most notable – in fact, he may be the most memorable character in this book.
Overall, this was a 4 star read for me. My thanks to HF Virtual Book Tours, NetGalley, Tea Cooper, and Thomas Nelson for hooking me up with a copy in exchange for my review.
About the Author
Téa Cooper is an award-winning, bestselling author of Australian 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.
This dual timeline read has a healthy dose of mystery, thrill, and a bit of romance as well. Told from the POVs of Fleur (1918-1920), Stefan, and Della (1853), the story of a strange storefront and cursed opal slowly unwinds. The cast of side characters is as rich as the main characters, and the settings and details are described beautifully. Look out for my full review at bitchbookshelf.com on June 16. My thanks for HF Book Tours, NetGalley, the author, and publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, June 16
Review at Bitch Bookshelf
Thursday, June 18
Review at Passages to the Past
Saturday, June 20
Feature at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, June 23
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, June 24
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Saturday, June 27
Review at A Darn Good Read
Sunday, June 28
Review at Rejoice in Reading
Tuesday, June 30
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of The Woman in the Green Dress! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
P. S. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks. While my poison is nonfiction, if you like the sound of this book, why not try it out on Audible? I highly recommend this service, especially as libraries aren’t always able to get ebooks and audiobook files to you in a timely manner. (Blame the publishers – not the libraries.)