The Cartographer’s Secret by Téa Cooper

‘The time has come to collate my notes and make them available to the world.’

Set in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, this novel involves two timelines, two women, some intriguing family mysteries, and a map.

In 1880, Evie Ludgrove went missing from her home at the Yellow Rock estate without a trace.  Her father had been obsessed with Dr Ludwig Leichhardt, and when The Bulletin magazine offered a £1,000 reward for proof of where he met his fate, Evie was determined to work it out.  She had her father’s papers to draw on, as well as information in the archives of the Royal Geographical Society.  Evie set off on her secret mission but was never seen again.

In 1911, Letitia Rawlings arrives at the Yellow Rock estate to advise her Great Aunt Olivia of a family bereavement.  Letitia, driving her Model T Ford may appear to be independent, but she has some problems of her own.  Her brother has died suddenly, and she is not happy with her mother’s plans.  But Letitia finds that things at Yellow Rock are not exactly as her mother has portrayed them.  And when she finds a map in her grandfather’s study, she wonders if she can solve the mystery of Evie’s disappearance.

I really enjoyed this novel, with its interesting female characters (especially Great Aunt Olivia) and its mysteries.  There is a touch of romance as well.

If you enjoy Australian historical fiction with strong female characters, with family mysteries to puzzle and with a hint of romance, I can recommend ‘The Cartographer’s Secret’.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith