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.
I have not read a lot of historical fiction that centers around World War I, and none that shows the impact that the war had on relations between England and Australia, so the synopsis of The Woman With The Green Dress was immediately intriguing to me. Author, Tea Cooper, kept my interest piqued by opening Fleur’s story in the middle of the action as the end of the war is announced in Trafalgar Square, and the newlywed is looking for her husband. The back and forth taking the reader from England in the 1900s to Australia in the 1850s, was rapid, but the writing was engaging and although I had to slow down to take note of all the characters who were introduced and keep track of their relationships, the narrative kept me interested all the way through. I admired Cooper’s writing as it felt like sophisticated sentences building an engaging story and relating a topic I am interested in but haven’t read much from this perspective.
Despite the multiplicity of settings, the author’s use of local details in comparisons and dialogue, helped keep the focus and I enjoyed quotes like, “she’d been no more than a joey hardly big enough to be out of her mother’s pouch” and “Straighten your pinny. This one’s upper crust, not like that last one with his funny accent and cheek.” It all helped to make this historical fictional tale feel more authentic and I enjoyed how the author showed the characters’ personalities and tendencies through their actions and internal monologues, rather than mere descriptions. Added to the historical fiction, The Woman With The Green Dress includes romance, immigration and freedom of the native people, as well as some intrigue surrounding a precious opal and the identity of a mysterious character. Unspooling the back stories at the same time I was rooting for the main character to excel at her own sleuthing, definitely heightened my enjoyment. Overall, I enjoyed this one and am interested in reading more from this author.
Note: I received a complimentary Advance Reader Copy of the novel from the publishing team at Thomas Nelson Publishers in collaboration with TLC Book Tours and Netgalley in order to complete this review. I was not otherwise compensated and the above review constitutes my honest and unbiased opinion.