From the publisher—
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.
1911—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.
To many people around the world, including me, Australia is an exotic land of fascinating history and a cheeky attitude, always surprising in one way or another. I’ve learned quite a bit about this unique country from previous Tea Cooper books and that continued with The Cartographer’s Secret. Ms. Cooper could and does make a dry account of the land down under turn into a captivating tale.
This story is essentially a family saga taking place in two time periods, 1880 and 1911, and involves two mysteries, Evie’s search for a missing explorer, leading to her own disappearance, and her niece Letitia’s subsequent determination to find out what happened. Evie’s father had had almost an obsession with the explorer and she had a love of maps so she thought her mapping talents and her father’s research could point the way to learning Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt’s fate. Instead, Evie became a mystery herself but Letitia unearths secrets and learns a lot about herself along the way.
Historical mysteries are a breed unto themselves, so to speak, and this one has a basis in fact, always an intriguing element. Here we also have a little romance, a lot of adventure, and a look at two women who were ahead of their times. Ms. Cooper’s in-depth research is very evident and, once again, she has captured my imagination.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2021.
About the Author
Tea Cooper is an established Australian author of 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. She is the winner of two Daphne du Maurier Awards and the bestselling author of several novels, including The Horse Thief, The Cedar Cutter, The Currency Lass, and The Naturalist’s Daughter.
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Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 2021
“The Cartographer’s Secret is a galvanizing, immersive adventure following
a family’s entanglement with a vanished Australian explorer through
the lush Hunter Valley at the turn of the twentieth century, 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 and The Greenbrier Resort