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 teashop 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 Hunter 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…
Usually I have a preference for one timeline over the other in a dual novel like this one, but this time I didn’t. I enjoyed both thoroughly! I will say, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a taxidermist, much less a female one, so that was an interesting twist.
Della was quite an intriguing character and I enjoyed how her story intertwined with Fleur’s. I have to confess, I enjoyed the secondary characters the most, and I loved their character development as well. I did not like finding out what happened to the characters in the earlier timeline from Fleur’s viewpoint, but that’s my own preference. This was an enjoyable read, although it started off a bit slow.
Tea Cooper is an award-winning author. The Woman in the Green Dress is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)