Title: The Woman in the Green Dress
Author: Tea Cooper
Publisher: 17th December 2018 by Harlequin Australia, HQ & Mira
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 4.5 cups
1853 Mogo Creek, NSW
Della Atterton, bereft at the loss of her parents, is holed up in the place she loves best: the beautiful Hawkesbury in New South Wales. Happiest following the trade her father taught her, taxidermy, Della has no wish to return to Sydney. But the unexpected arrival of Captain Stefan von Richter on a quest to retrieve what could be Australia's first opal, precipitates Della's return to Sydney and her Curio Shop of Wonders, where she discovers her enigmatic aunt, Cordelia, is selling more than curiosities to collectors. Strange things are afoot and Della, a fly in a spider's web, is caught up in events with unimaginable consequences...
1919 Sydney, NSW
When London tea shop waitress Fleur Richards inherits land and wealth in Australia from her husband, Hugh, killed in the war, she wants nothing to do with it. After all, accepting it will mean Hugh really is dead. But Hugh's lawyer is insistent, and so she finds herself ensconced in the Berkeley Hotel on Bent St, Sydney, the reluctant owner of a Hawkesbury property and an old curio shop, now desolate and boarded up.
As the real story of her inheritance unravels, Fleur finds herself in the company of a damaged returned soldier Kip, holding a thread that takes her deep into the past, a thread that could unravel a mystery surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress; a green that is the colour of envy, the colour buried deep within an opal, the colour of poison...
Tea Cooper has delivered once again! Just like in, ‘The Naturalist’s Daughter’ (HERE), where she presented strong female historical figures, Tea’s latest tale not only provides a truly engaging story but also two fabulously strong women. I thoroughly enjoyed both dual time narratives (an admirable accomplishment in itself) and couldn’t wait to see how Tea would provide the crucial and very cleverly linked storylines as she often does.
‘The Woman in the Green Dress’, is full of good locations, well rounded characters and an engaging plot. I just love these strong female leads and both Fleur and Della once more exemplify the feminine intuitive that runs across all Tea’s books. Venturing from Sydney to the Hawkesbury, there are many aspects to this tale that make it unique: taxidermy, opals, villains, bequests, courage and love.
Both Della in 1853 and Fleur in 1919 have much to offer the reader with their courage and tenacity. Fleur’s story is courageous as she travels from England to uncover the truth behind her husband’s legacy; likewise Della, pursues the truth - admirable for both women in an age where they were viewed as secondary citizens. There are several interesting aspects here - taxidermy, plight of the first Australians, the opal industry and much more. The way Tea interweaves fact and fiction is highly commendable - rich in intriguing historical facts.
This is a clever story that will have you working to organise all the plot puzzle pieces that have been masterfully crafted by Tea. I was captivated by not only the strength and determination of the two women, but also the cast of secondary characters. Congratulations Tea on once again producing a masterfully crafted tale of mystery and intrigue that will see the reader journeying side by side with Della and Fleur as they both respectively work to uncover the truth behind, ‘The Woman in the Green Dress’.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.