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  • Australian Historical Fiction

    In 1906, Jane Piper is living in the local orphanage in Maitland, one day she is directed by the nuns to dress in her Sunday best and summoned down stairs. Michael Quinn a local business man wants to talk to her and she has no idea why? Jane was left at the orphanage as a baby, no one has ever wanted to adopt her, she talks way too much and has a habit of saying whatever pops into her head at the time! Jane is very smart, Michael and his sister Elizabeth Quinn support the orphanage. In Jane's case they noticed from her school work that she's a mathematical genius, they don't want her brilliant mind to be wasted, she's offered a scholarship, she can attend the girls school in Maitland and live with them. In 1913, Elizabeth Quinn and Jane go to the local technical college to look at the accounting books, when Elizabeth wanders off to look at a taxidermy exhibition and she has a funny turn? Elizabeth wanted to ignore the whole episode, it's never happened before and she puts it down to being tired. The local doctor thinks it's due to her age and it's a ladies change of life complaint? When it happens again, Jane is very concerned and something is wrong with her sensible Aunt Elizabeth. The story has a dual timeline and fifty years earlier, Michael and Elizabeth O'Cuinn set sail from England to finally be reunited with their parents in Sydney. When they arrive fifteen year old Michael discovers his parents are not waiting for them when the ship docks and he's very concerned. He leaves four year old Elizabeth with Mrs Cameron a lady who they met on the ship while sailing to Australia and sets off to discover what happened to his Mam and Da? He discovers his Ma has passed away and he father will soon follow her. He has no choice but to leave Elizabeth with Mrs Cameron and pay her to look after his little sister until he has a reliable income and a place for them to stay. Later when he discovers his sister is no longer going to school, the money he sends isn't going towards her "keep" and Mrs Cameron has put Elizabeth to work scrubbing ladies underwear in her laundry business, he's furious. He takes her with him to the Australian gold fields in Hill End where he owns a warehouse and runs a carting business. Now years later he's very concerned about his sister, did something happen to her while she was staying with the Cameron's and is that why she's started having funny turns? Or is due to what happened to Elizabeth just prior to them leaving for Australia, he has never spoken to her about it and is she having memory flashbacks? Can cleaver Jane fit together the pieces of the puzzle, put it all together, before her Aunt Elizabeth loses her grip on reality and is considered to be mentally insane? Or, is there something odd about a striking painting on loan from the National Gallery, does it contain clues to her Aunts past and did she look at it while visiting the college? The Girl In The Painting is a brilliant historical mystery, where the past and the present combine, to create a story that has so many twists and turns, you can't stop reading it and the title of the book hides some of the clues to how it ends! A big five stars from me and well done Tea Cooper.

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    12 person found this review helpful

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  • A good read!,

    These books are always interesting as they incorporate events of history. The story is engaging with believable characters, and easy to read. The reader is pulled in to the fictional world and left waiting for all the pieces to come together at the end.

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The girl in the painting

    I loved it. The characters were easy to know and like ..... or dislike. The mix of historical fact and fiction was believable. And... it had a Beginning a Middle and an End. Loved it and highly recommend it.... especially if you like Australian settings. Familiarity with locations and history is good.

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  • I thoroughly enjoyed "the girl in the painting"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, It was easy to read and understand and kept me interested all the time.

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  • Marvellous Australian historical fiction

    The Girl in the Painting is a historical fiction novel by best-selling Australian author, Téa Cooper. In Maitland Town in 1913, Jane Piper is still counting her blessings that Michael and Elizabeth Quinn chose her from the orphanage. Not to adopt, but to further her education and realise an undreamt-of career as an accountant. In her first interview, she told Michael: “I like numbers, sir. See, they don’t lie, sir. Not like people. There’s only right or wrong, no in-betweens” and that still holds true. But one day, at the Technical College with Elizabeth to view an exhibition, her benefactor takes a turn. What can have reduced this unfailingly poised lady to a gibbering mess? Aunt Elizabeth wants to ignore the whole episode, to dismiss it, but Jane can’t let it go. Especially when it happens again. She will use her deductive powers to learn what has affected her beloved patroness so. Fifty years earlier, a sweet blue-eyed four-year-old girl slipped her hand into young Michael Ó’Cuinn’s as they boarded a ship for their assisted passage to join parents Michael and Aileen Quinn in Sydney. The news that greeted them on arrival was a shock, however, and Michael had to leave Elizabeth with the Camerons while he sorted out a place to safely raise a child: the goldfields at Hill End wouldn’t fit the bill, but that’s where his Da was. Several narrators tell the story over two timelines, and Cooper easily captures the era and the setting. Her characters are interesting and engaging and it’s utterly impossible not to fall in love with little Jane from the first chapter. Cooper gives the reader lots of historical tidbits mingled with a good dose of intrigue and a hint of romance, and wraps it all in wonderfully evocative prose. Marvellous Australian historical fiction! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction

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