The Girl in the Painting

Does she hold the key to a mystery long hidden?

Release Date
December 16, 2019
Tea Cooper
Page count
Goodreads rating
Historical Fiction
What to expect
Portrait of turn-of-the-century Australia; mystery and maths
Who's it for?
Aussie history lovers




Painterly details hiding mystery. Will appeal to many.



Tea Cooper’s prose clips along like a canter through the Australian bush. She peppers her narrative with plenty of dialogue, and shuns longwinded and laborious writing for the sake of well-researched, punchy prose. Easy reading.



Singer Casey Withoos‘ narration demonstrates her deft hand at Australian, Irish and West Country accents. She also manages to handle a cast of characters with ease and it’s a delight to hear the different age groups and characters. Soothing and enjoyable.



We meet Jane Piper, orphaned mathematical whiz, who is both admired by and accepted into the Quinn household by Irish siblings Michael and Elizabeth. Having escaped the dreary English workhouses decades earlier, the siblings are prominent figures in Maitland — a town located in New South Wale’s Hunter Valley.

When Elizabeth is found huddled in the corner of an exhibition, babbling nonsense and barely responsive, Jane finds herself compelled to solve a mystery that will span over fifty years and across oceans.

Flashbacks fill us in on clues that may reveal the connection to present day and the identities of those Jane loves dearly. It’s a story of belonging — which is often found far beyond traditional familial ties.


Artwork © The Bookish Type

Artwork © The Bookish Type




Like the pieces of a puzzle, the various storylines fit together to create an ending that I’m sure we all will see coming, but one that feels satisfactory and complete.


I seem to be unwittingly reading more and more historical fiction and it’s a joy to read one that reflects the history of my country in such detailed ways. I felt like after reading this book I have a new understanding of the way of life of migrant children during that time and more of the society that sought adventure and wealth in the gold mines.

This is my first Tea Cooper novel and I can understand why I saw the cover to this book gracing the shelves of stores and popular download lists online. This book feels like it will suit a broad audience chasing easy-reading books with rich character and detail. The ending for me felt a bit too obvious and took a lot longer to wrap up than I thought was necessary.

However, the characters were inspired and the writing was smooth. Cooper manages to keep the various plot points easy to follow, despite the various jumps in time and location.

I’d recommend this for that busy someone who wants something easy to read that will transport them to another time with a little mystery thrown in there while they’re at it.

Jane always dreamt that one day Florence Nightingale would glide through the dormitory door, light in hand, and spirit her away, the child of her heart she’d been forced to relinquish while she went off saving people.

The Girl in the Painting
Evocative writing
Ending a bit too neat
A colourful, curated blend of books, wine and creativity, with a soft spot for Australian work and female-centric narratives.

Fable and Fizz would like to acknowledge the Whadjuck Noongar people as the traditional owners and continual custodians on the lands and waters this content is primarily written on. I pay respects to their Elders — past and present. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
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