Friday, November 19, 2021

Review: "The Cartographer's Secret" by Tea Cooper

I have recently become a big fan of Tea Cooper's writing. I love the Australian setting and the split-time nature of her novels. So I was quite happy to pick up The Cartographer's Secret!

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.

The Cartographer's Secret is an engaging historical novel about two women - Letitia Rawlings and her aunt, Evie Ludgrove. In 1911, following the death of her beloved brother, Lettie travels from Sydney to her family's estate at Yellow Rock to inform her great-aunt Olivia of his death. While there, she gets swept into a mystery, the disappearance of her mother's sister Evie thirty years prior. When she vanished, Evie had been researching the fate of a famous explorer, and she left behind notes and clues that Lettie uses in her search for the truth of what happened to Evie.

The story is told from both Evie's and Lettie's perspectives, and it's truly fascinating to watch it unfold. While this is a split-time novel, the vast majority of the novel is set with Lettie in 1911. While looking for clues about Evie, Lettie finds family, belonging, and love, and she finally discovers what she truly wants out of life. 

This novel is just what I've come to expect from Tea Cooper - fascinating historical details (rooted at least partially in real events), an enticing mystery, and strong women who are easy to root for. 4 stars.

Buy the book (Amazon ad).

Read my reviews of Cooper's The Woman in the Green Dress (5 stars) and The Girl in the Painting (4-1/2 stars).

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.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. This sounds so interesting, and thanks to your review, I remembered that I never finished The Woman in the Green Dress...not because I didn't like it, just ran out of time to read it, and then forgot about it. I think I need to make that the next book I read!


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