The Woman in the Green Dress is a historical novel set in Sydney, Australia in 1853 and London - and then Sydney - in 1918. It is the story of a mysterious woman in a green dress, a white kangaroo, an opal that is said to carry a curse, an unusual little curio shop, a botanist who falls in love, and a woman post-World War I who is desperatley trying to find out if her husband survived the war.
I wanted to read this novel because it sounded so unique. I have not read a lot of historical fiction set in Australia, and I was very inrigued by the setting. As someone who sells vintage items for a living, I was particularly curious about the curio shop.
This is a dual storyline novel. The 1918 storyline is about Fleur Richards, a British woman who has received unofficial word that her Australian husband died in World War I. She receives a sizable inheritance which she doesn't want to accept, so she travels to Sydney to learn the truth.
In Sydney the story flashes back to 1853, an Austrian botanist newly arrived and intrigued by a beautiful young woman who has made friends with a white kangaroo, the curio shop the girl's aunt runs, and an assortment of mysterious stories including a huge opal and an unusual curio shop.
Initially I was much more interested in Fleur's storyline and her search for her lost husband in 1918. The 1853 storyline was much more complex with many characters and locales and it took me longer to really become invested in that story. Then, about halfway through the book, I suddenly found that story completely fascinating and just could not put the book down!
This is such an unusual book. It combines mystery, romance, and topics like opals, the properties of arsenic, and taxidermy in the 1800's. I have been thinking about it since I finished reading, something that I always consider a hallmark of a really exceptional read.
I recommend The Woman in the Green Dress for fans of historical fiction, for anyone interested in Australia, and for anyone looking for a unique glimpse at history that is rarely addressed in fiction.
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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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.
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