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Literary Friday: The Cartographer's Secret by Tea Cooper

Friday, November 19, 2021

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing a historical novel set in turn of the last century Australia entitled The Cartographer's Secret by Tea Cooper.  I've reviewed another one of her novels, The Girl in the Painting, HERE.

According to Goodreads:

A map into the past. A long-lost young woman. And a thirty-year family mystery.

The Hunter Valley, 1880. Evie Ludgrove loves to chart the landscape around her home—hardly surprising since she grew up in the shadow of her father’s obsession with the great Australian explorer Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt. So when an advertisement appears in The Bulletin magazine offering a thousand-pound reward for proof of where Leichhardt met his fate, Evie is determined to use her father’s papers to unravel the secret. But when Evie sets out to prove her theory, she vanishes without a trace, leaving behind a mystery that haunts her family for thirty years.

Letitia Rawlings arrives at the family estate in her Ford Model T to inform her great-aunt Olivia of a loss in their family. But Letitia is also escaping her own problems—her brother’s sudden death, her mother’s scheming, and her dissatisfaction with the life planned out for her. So when Letitia discovers a beautifully illustrated map that might hold a clue to the fate of her missing aunt, Evie Ludgrove, she sets out to discover the truth. But all is not as it seems, and Letitia begins to realize that solving the mystery of her family’s past could offer as much peril as redemption.

A gripping historical mystery for fans of Kate Morton and Natasha Lester’s The Paris Seamstress, The Cartographer’s Secret follows a young woman’s quest to heal a family rift as she becomes entangled in one of Australia’s greatest historical puzzles.

“A galvanizing, immersive adventure . . . forcing the characters to reckon with the choice found at the crux of passion and loyalty and the power of shared blood that can either destroy or heal.” —Joy Callaway, international bestselling author of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society

Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 2021


The overleaf of the book includes a helpful map created by one of the characters.

My Review:

I was so happy when TLC Book Tours invited me to be a part of this tour because I enjoy reading Tea Cooper's books, and The Cartographer's Secret is a historical with both mystery and romance.  Plus it's set in Australia, which makes it unique.

Cooper is dedicated to researching her books, and the information about Australian explorer Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt who disappeared without a trace on an expedition from Eastern Australia to Western Australia intrigued me.  The story involves an Australian family of landowners/horse breeders living in the Hunter River Valley.  Evie, a talented artist and cartographer, is determined to solve the mystery of Leichhardt's disappearance for her father (who is also obsessed), fame, and a monetary reward.  In early 1881 when Evie is just on the cusp of solving the mystery, she disappears.  

In 1911, Evie's niece Lettie travels to Yellow Rock to discuss her brother Thorne's tragic death with her great aunt and family matriarch.  She has been sent by her mother Miriam to secure both Ludgrove and Maynard family properties as her inheritance because Lettie is Thorne's heir.  Lettie gets distracted from her original mission because she becomes obsessed with Evie's disappearance, and is encouraged by her Great Aunt Olivia to solve the mystery of what happened to Evie and write her story.  The more Lettie remains at the family home Yellow Rock the more she realizes that there is no life for her left in Sydney.  Her mother is not happy when she realizes that Lettie hasn't secured her inheritance, and angrily demands she return to Sydney.  In the interim, Lettie has adventures finding clues about Evie and she becomes smitten with a drover named Nathaniel.  

So....what's not to like?  Family mysteries, family conflicts, romance, adventure, strong female characters, and a beautiful Australian setting: this novel has so much to love.  Plus Tea Cooper's research and detailed, intricate plot is a pleasure to read.  She reminds me a little of Diana Gabaldon: her historical details and descriptive prose is lovely.  However, it is not a quick read, Lovelies, so give yourself extra time when reading it. There are several characters, dual plots for the first half of the book, and historical details about one of Australia's most interesting unsolved mysteries.  At 400 pages long, the ending is well worth the length and very satisfying.  

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Disclosure:  I receive an ARC of The Cartographer's Secret from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Sounds like a great read. Happy Friday sweet friend. xoxo

  2. I've never read any of her books, so thank for the introduction!

  3. This sounds like a good one, thanks Ricki Jill!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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