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A fossil discovered at London's Natural History Museum leads one woman back in time to nineteenth century Australia and a world of scientific discovery and dark secrets in this compelling historical mystery. Wollombi, The Hunter Valley 1847 The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her - but no one believe A fossil discovered at London's Natural History Museum leads one woman back in time to nineteenth century Australia and a world of scientific discovery and dark secrets in this compelling historical mystery. Wollombi, The Hunter Valley 1847 The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her - but no one believes her story. In a bid to curb Mellie's overactive imagination, her benefactors send her to visit a family friend, Anthea Winstanley. Anthea is an amateur palaeontologist with a dream. She is convinced she will one day find proof the great sea dragons - the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur - swam in the vast inland sea that millions of years ago covered her property at Bow Wow Gorge, and soon Mellie shares that dream for she loves fossil hunting too... 1919 When Penelope Jane Martindale arrives home from the battlefields of World War 1 with the intention of making her peace with her father and commemorating the death of her two younger brothers in the trenches, her reception is not as she had hoped. Looking for distraction, she finds a connection between a fossil at London's Natural History museum and her brothers which leads her to Bow Wow Gorge. But the gorge has a sinister reputation - 70 years ago people disappeared. So when PJ uncovers some unexpected remains, it seems as if the past is reaching into the present and she becomes determined to discover what really happened all that time ago...


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A fossil discovered at London's Natural History Museum leads one woman back in time to nineteenth century Australia and a world of scientific discovery and dark secrets in this compelling historical mystery. Wollombi, The Hunter Valley 1847 The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her - but no one believe A fossil discovered at London's Natural History Museum leads one woman back in time to nineteenth century Australia and a world of scientific discovery and dark secrets in this compelling historical mystery. Wollombi, The Hunter Valley 1847 The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her - but no one believes her story. In a bid to curb Mellie's overactive imagination, her benefactors send her to visit a family friend, Anthea Winstanley. Anthea is an amateur palaeontologist with a dream. She is convinced she will one day find proof the great sea dragons - the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur - swam in the vast inland sea that millions of years ago covered her property at Bow Wow Gorge, and soon Mellie shares that dream for she loves fossil hunting too... 1919 When Penelope Jane Martindale arrives home from the battlefields of World War 1 with the intention of making her peace with her father and commemorating the death of her two younger brothers in the trenches, her reception is not as she had hoped. Looking for distraction, she finds a connection between a fossil at London's Natural History museum and her brothers which leads her to Bow Wow Gorge. But the gorge has a sinister reputation - 70 years ago people disappeared. So when PJ uncovers some unexpected remains, it seems as if the past is reaching into the present and she becomes determined to discover what really happened all that time ago...

58 review for The Fossil Hunter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    It was 1847 in Wollombi, in the Hunter Valley, Australia and twelve-year-old Mellie Vale was in the grips of a fever. She had chicken pox and was very sick, but when she began to improve, she had to put up with the jeers and taunts of the two sisters where she was staying. Mellie just wanted her da but no one would say where he was. Every year the children visited Anthea Winstanley at Bow Wow Gorge and this year, Mellie went along as well. Anthea took Mellie under her wing as she could see the c It was 1847 in Wollombi, in the Hunter Valley, Australia and twelve-year-old Mellie Vale was in the grips of a fever. She had chicken pox and was very sick, but when she began to improve, she had to put up with the jeers and taunts of the two sisters where she was staying. Mellie just wanted her da but no one would say where he was. Every year the children visited Anthea Winstanley at Bow Wow Gorge and this year, Mellie went along as well. Anthea took Mellie under her wing as she could see the child was traumatized by something – she could see the cruel teasing was getting under Mellie’s skin, but was it more than that? It was 1919 and the war was over. Penelope Jane Martindale was in London waiting for her good friend Sam, an American from Philadelphia, to arrive with Sid, his Wolseley which had been converted to an ambulance during the war. When Sam and Sid arrived, they would head for Australia. PJ’s time was filled with visits to London’s Natural History Museum where she found a fossil accredited to Anthea Winstanley of Australia. She remembered her younger brothers’ crate of fossils and their interest in searching for fossils when they’d been boys. Could it all be connected somehow? PJ’s return to Wollombi with Sam was the beginning of a deep fascination for her of the local area, the fossils and what remained at Bow Wow Gorge. Her pa was angry with her, and she needed to right that situation, but it was while learning about the talk from locals about missing people from seventy years prior and hauntings by a bunyip had PJ wondered what secrets were there to be unearthed… The Fossil Hunter is another fascinating look at New South Wales history, mostly fictional, by Aussie author Tea Cooper and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found both timeframes equally enthralling, and although I don’t know Bow Wow Gorge, it does exist. I’ve been to Wollombi and it’s a lovely little town and I can imagine it back in the days of The Fossil Hunter. I have no hesitation in recommending this novel, along with all Ms Cooper’s historical stories. With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Mellie Vale, lives in Wollombi, with her father and he mixes with some rough characters. With a high fever, Mellie remembers running through the Australian bush, with a bunyip chasing her, and everyone thinks she has an overactive imagination. Bunyips are mystical creatures that live in the bush and near lagoons, they make a roaring noise and Aboriginal people believe they exist. The Pearson family give her a place to stay, she has no idea what happened to her dad, and their two daughters Lydia Mellie Vale, lives in Wollombi, with her father and he mixes with some rough characters. With a high fever, Mellie remembers running through the Australian bush, with a bunyip chasing her, and everyone thinks she has an overactive imagination. Bunyips are mystical creatures that live in the bush and near lagoons, they make a roaring noise and Aboriginal people believe they exist. The Pearson family give her a place to stay, she has no idea what happened to her dad, and their two daughters Lydia and Bea, bully Mellie. When Lydia and Bea, Ella and Grace Ketteringham, and Millie are given and oppituinty to stay with Anthea Winstanley, a family friend of the Pearson's, Mellie’s nervous, and Anthea's an amateur paleontologist. Anthea’s interested in fossils, and convinced she will find proof of the ancient sea dragons, and the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur. The Hunter Valley was once a vast in land sea, full of prehistorical marine life, with the right conditions they eventually turned into fossils, and Anthea’s property at Bow Bow Gorge is the ideal location. Penelope Jane Martindale is an Australian ambulance driver, she served in France during WW I, and she’s waiting for a ship to taker her home and she visits the Natural History museum in London. Her brothers Dan and Riley died in the war, as young boys they collected fossils and Penelope also finds them interesting. She travels to Lyme Regis, to visit the graves of three famous women paleontologists and speaks to a Mr. Wood. Returning to Australia with her fiancé Samuel Groves, her father isn’t happy to see her and he blames her for her brother’s deaths. Penelope discovers a connection between a fossil at the museum in London, her brother’s fossil collections and where they were found. Determined to discover the truth she travels to Bow Wow Gorge, locals don’t like talking about the place, it has a sinister past, and she meets two influential women Dr. Mavis Elliot and Ms. Amelia Baldwin. The Fossil Hunter is a dual timeline historical mystery, set in 1847 and 1919, its full of scientific information, interesting characters, long kept secrets, startling discoveries, and complicated family relationships. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Harlequin Australia in exchange for an honest review, Tea Cooper at her very best, I highly recommend reading this book, and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I was more than a little surprised to see that this is the first book I have read by this author! It will not be the last. The Fossil Hunter is set in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and has dual time lines, both of them historical. The story revolves around Mellie in 1847 and PJ in 1919. Fossils and fossil hunting are the focal point of the book and there is a lot of historical fact included about palaeontology and the discovery of dinosaur bones in particular. I really enjoyed the Australia I was more than a little surprised to see that this is the first book I have read by this author! It will not be the last. The Fossil Hunter is set in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and has dual time lines, both of them historical. The story revolves around Mellie in 1847 and PJ in 1919. Fossils and fossil hunting are the focal point of the book and there is a lot of historical fact included about palaeontology and the discovery of dinosaur bones in particular. I really enjoyed the Australian setting. How lucky were PJ and Sam to be able to stroll down to a creek at dawn and see a platypus. I am not sure how easy that would be today. I have seen them in captivity though and they are marvellous. The fossils are still being found today of course including dinosaur bones and footprints. Not all the bones discovered in the book are fossils and there is an intriguing mystery regarding some human bones. It was not hard to guess who they must belong to but the reasons why and how they came to be there lead to a great story. It was all very enjoyable and informative. My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Again MS Cooper has dug deep into research and given her readers a fabulous story set in duel timelines around The Hunter Valley, this time we discover fossils and the wonderful people who spend their lives searching for the past in some very interesting places and make such wonderful discoveries, do come along and meet the fabulous characters and enjoy their stories as much as I did. It is 1919 and Penelope Jane (PJ) Martindale is spending some time at London’s Natural History Museum, before she Again MS Cooper has dug deep into research and given her readers a fabulous story set in duel timelines around The Hunter Valley, this time we discover fossils and the wonderful people who spend their lives searching for the past in some very interesting places and make such wonderful discoveries, do come along and meet the fabulous characters and enjoy their stories as much as I did. It is 1919 and Penelope Jane (PJ) Martindale is spending some time at London’s Natural History Museum, before she travels home to Australia when she discovers a fossil found at Bow Wow Gorge in The Hunter Valley, a place she knows her young brothers would go there searching for fossils, sadly her brothers will not be coming home from France, but PJ has a bee in her bonnet now and can’t wait to get back home and do a bit of searching herself never realising what she will uncover from seventy years before. Wollombi Hunter Valley 1847 a young Mellie Vale is about to have her life turned upside down by matters that had nothing to do with her, she is scared and very ill, but when she wakes from her fever her Pa is gone and she is living at the Doctor’s house, the Doctor’s wife sends her along to visit a friend, an amateur palaeontologilst, Anthea Winstanley with her daughters and a couple of other young girls for ten days of what should be fun and to help Mellie heal. Mellie is soon helping Anthea to find these sea dragons and learning as she goes in the beautiful Bow Wow Gorge, she and Anthea are very close but things turn around when a stranger visits and trouble is brewing, life changes very quickly. PJ arrives back in the Hunter Valley from the battlefields of France she hopes to talk to her father about her brothers, she is also accompanied by Sam who is American, the man who wants to marry her they drove ambulances together on the front line things don’t go as planned when she arrives home and her and Sam find themselves searching for fossils in the Bow Wow Gorge but when they find human bones the search depends and they find they are uncovering secrets from seventy years ago. I truly loved this story it is so well written, the characters are easy to get to know and there were many twists for me as the truths come out about what had happened all those years ago at Bow Wow house and gorge. I do highly recommend this one a must read, Tea Cooper has never disappointed me with one of her stories another page turner and one for the keeper shelf. My thanks to Harlequin AU for my copy to read and review and Netgalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Arthur (Ms. G's Bookshelf)

    ⭐️4.5 Stars⭐️ ✨Tea Cooper has given us yet another brilliant story blending historical fiction with mystery. We have a theme of palaeontology, bunyips and murder in the Australian bush in this intriguing dual timeline piece, The Fossil Hunter. ✨Mellie Vale, twelve years of age lives in Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, Australia with her father and it’s the year 1847. Mellie’s mother and baby brother are deceased and her father now associates with some shady characters. The last thing Mellie remember ⭐️4.5 Stars⭐️ ✨Tea Cooper has given us yet another brilliant story blending historical fiction with mystery. We have a theme of palaeontology, bunyips and murder in the Australian bush in this intriguing dual timeline piece, The Fossil Hunter. ✨Mellie Vale, twelve years of age lives in Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, Australia with her father and it’s the year 1847. Mellie’s mother and baby brother are deceased and her father now associates with some shady characters. The last thing Mellie remembers before the fever got her was running through the bush, footsteps following behind her….a monster! ✨Mellie is taken in by Dr. Pearson and his family to recover, she is not told where her father is. She’s later sent on a visit to their family friend Anthea Winstanely who lives st Bow Wow. Anthea is a palaeontologist and Mellie becomes fasinated in searching for fossils with her and looking for proof of existance of the prehistoric great sea-dragons in Australia. ✨London 1919 - Penelope Jane Martindale (PJ) has served as an ambulance driver on the battlefields of France during the war. Now that the war has ended she is on her way back home to Australia and has stopped to visit London’s Natural History Museum. Here PJ discovers a fossil found at Bow Wow Gorge in The Hunter Valley, near her home and where her deceased brothers used to go searching for the fossils they would bring home. ✨PJ and her American boyfriend Sam explore the gorge for fossils once back in Australia and make some shocking discoveries. Bow Wow Gorge has a dark history, the locals believe girls disappeared there some seventy years ago. I’ve always loved everything I’ve read by Tea Cooper and this was no exception. Publication date 27 October 2021 Thank you so much Harlequin Books Australia for sending me a copy of the book

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kylie H

    This is the first book that I have read by Tea Cooper and I am already looking forward to reading more. ' This story is told in parallel timelines, moving between the late 1840's and 1919. The majority of the story is set in the Hunter Valley in regional New South Wales. PJ (short for Penelope Jane) is returning from service in the war as an ambulance officer to see her father. During the war her twin brothers were killed in France, having enlisted while underage. This appears to be something for This is the first book that I have read by Tea Cooper and I am already looking forward to reading more. ' This story is told in parallel timelines, moving between the late 1840's and 1919. The majority of the story is set in the Hunter Valley in regional New South Wales. PJ (short for Penelope Jane) is returning from service in the war as an ambulance officer to see her father. During the war her twin brothers were killed in France, having enlisted while underage. This appears to be something for which her father holds her to account. While still in England PJ comes across a fossil in a London museum that appears to come from close to her home. This awakens in her a thirst for more knowledge about the fossils and the lady who found them, Mrs Anthea Winstanley. As PJ with her friend, American Sam, who served with her as an ambulance officer, travels home to Australia she awakens local mythology about ghosts and bunyips. Happy to recommend this wonderful piece of historical fiction. Thank you Netgalley, Harlequin Australia and HQ & MIRA for the opportunity to read this digital ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The Fossil Hunter is an absorbing read, effectively using dual timelines to explore the lives of women and the emerging study of Australian fossils in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Interwoven into the plot is a 70-year-old mystery, linking the novel's 1847 storyline with its 1919 present. The story opens in early 1847 with Mellie, an unhappy and traumatised young girl, recovering from a nasty case of chickenpox as well as a terrifying incident in the bush, and the unexplained absence of The Fossil Hunter is an absorbing read, effectively using dual timelines to explore the lives of women and the emerging study of Australian fossils in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Interwoven into the plot is a 70-year-old mystery, linking the novel's 1847 storyline with its 1919 present. The story opens in early 1847 with Mellie, an unhappy and traumatised young girl, recovering from a nasty case of chickenpox as well as a terrifying incident in the bush, and the unexplained absence of her father. Mellie's been taken in by the family of Dr. Pearson in the Hunter Valley (NSW) town of Wollombi, but is unsympathetically bullied by the domestic staff and the daughters of the house. Every year, the Pearson daughters Lydia and Bea and their local friends, Ella and Grace Ketteringham, look forward to spending ten days with widowed "Aunt" Anthea Winstanley at her bushland property, Bow Wow. Hoping to aid Mellie's convalescence with a change of scenery, Mrs. Pearson decides to send a nervous and reluctant Mellie to accompany the other girls. For Mellie, this proves a revelation, as she quickly forms a bond with Anthea and develops a fascination with the fossils she excavates from the gorge located on her property. Anthea has recently discovered an unusual fossil, which she thinks may be the vertebrae of an ichthyosaur - an ancient marine reptile, fossils of which have been discovered previously in other parts of the world, notably by Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, England. As Anthea waits hopefully for professional advice on the fossil, she leads the group of girls in delicate excavation work and careful cataloguing of their finds. But life at Bow Wow is far from idyllic - Bea and Grace are relentless in their teasing of Mellie, while the older girls, Lydia and Ella, are more concerned with their looming search for husbands than the "unladylike" work of collecting fossils. Anthea's irritation turns to alarm, however, when a mysterious stranger arrives at Bow Wow, expressing an interest in purchasing part of the property. In 1919, the Great War having finally drawn to a close, Australian Ambulance Volunteer Penelope Jane "PJ" Martindale is kicking her heels in London, awaiting the arrival of her close friend and colleague, American Captain Sam Groves, who is delayed in returning from the continent with his converted Wolseley ambulance, referred to as "Sid". She visits the Natural History Museum, and is fascinated to view fossils catalogued as having been discovered by an "A. Winstanley" at Bow Wow Gorge, New South Wales. The fossils capture her imagination, as her younger brothers - both of whom died during the war, like so many young men - had been interested in collecting fossils, and had often visited Bow Wow, not far from the family home in Wollombi. PJ dreams of honouring her brothers' memory by bringing their ambition to fruition - uncover a full Australian ichthyosaur fossil and name it Ichthyosaurus martindalii. Her arrival back in Australia with Sam - who has by this time proposed - is not as welcoming as she'd hoped - her doctor father blames her personally for the enlistment and subsequent deaths of her brothers. Keen to escape the awkwardness of the family home - the same house in which the Pearson family lived 70 years previously - PJ and Sam set out to explore Bow Wow Gorge. They're initially looking for fossils, but unwittingly come across skeletonised human remains in a cave off the gorge. Their discovery prompts a series of meetings with local personalities and revelations about the history of Bow Wow Gorge. What happened at the gorge seventy years ago and whose are the remains that have been hidden for so long? Like author Tea Cooper, I was fortunate to visit the town of Lyme Regis in the UK at an inquisitive young age, and was also fascinated with the story of Mary Anning and others who pioneered the field of palaeontology, despite the social, academic and physical barriers they faced as women. While the plot and central characters of The Fossil Hunter are fictionalised, the inclusion of a visit by PJ to the Museum at Lyme Regis draws some real historical content into the book - that said, parts of the narrative don't fit the real historical timeline, as the real Anning died from breast cancer in March 1947, contemporaneously with the story's Anthea and girls searching for fossils at Bow Wow. Tea Cooper's creation of an evocative setting is masterful - I wasn't surprised to read that she'd spent time in both Wollombi and at Bow Wow (a modern farmhouse now stands on the site she describes as Anthea's home) while researching for the book. The setting is simultaneously beautiful and somewhat menacing, calling to mind Australian classics such as Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock - an impression solidified by PJ's imagining of young women clad in muslin dresses posing against a geological backdrop. Given the strange sounds and light of the bush, it's not surprising that Australian indigenous people and colonial settlers imagined the existence of terrifying bush-swamp monsters, referred to as bunyips, quinkins or yowies, (the now common term bunyip has been traced to the Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of the indigenous groups based in present Victoria). Tea Cooper incorporates into her narrative a curious incident around the purported discovery of a bunyip skull, and its temporary display in Sydney, which actually occurred in 1847. The Fossil Hunter is a thought-provoking and entertaining read, with well-developed characters and an evocative setting in rural-bush Australia. Tea Cooper has created convincing storylines in not one, but two distinct historical periods, subtly exploring the limitations that applied to the rights and opportunities of women in both timeframes. I was fascinated with Cooper's integration of the real-life inspirations for the "Doctor's House" at Wollombi and the Bow Wow homestead and gorge. The mystery storyline is intriguing, with the reader given insight ahead of the characters as to where the truth lies. I'd highly recommend The Fossil Hunter to readers who enjoy well-researched historical fiction, especially stories about women's experiences and Australian settings. Any reader who, like myself, has a personal interest in the story of Mary Anning and other pioneering women of science will find this a stimulating read. My thanks to the author, Tea Cooper, publisher Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title prior to its release on 27 October 2021.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    The Fossil Hunter is a historical novel by Australian author, Teà Cooper. The audio version is narrated by Sophie Loughran. In early 1847, twelve-year-old Mellie Vale is sure her short life is at its lowest point: her mother and baby brother have drowned; her father has left and not returned; and her home and her meagre possessions have been destroyed in a fire to contain the chicken pox she had contracted. Dr Pearson’s family took her in, but she is mercilessly bullied by his staff, one of his d The Fossil Hunter is a historical novel by Australian author, Teà Cooper. The audio version is narrated by Sophie Loughran. In early 1847, twelve-year-old Mellie Vale is sure her short life is at its lowest point: her mother and baby brother have drowned; her father has left and not returned; and her home and her meagre possessions have been destroyed in a fire to contain the chicken pox she had contracted. Dr Pearson’s family took her in, but she is mercilessly bullied by his staff, one of his daughters, and their friends. When the girls travel to Bow Wow Gorge to stay with Edna Pearson’s good friend and renowned palaeontologist, Anthea Winstanley, Mellie is wary. But she is soon won over by this rather strange woman’s excitement about the possible discovery of the skeleton of an ichthyosaur: the picture she shows them is clearly of a dragon, and Mellie would love to be a dragon hunter. In 1919, as Penelope Jane Martindale waits for Captain Samuel Groves to arrive in London, she heads into the Natural History Museum, the very last place she saw her twin brothers, Dan and Riley, before they were killed in the war. Recalling their enthusiasm for fossils, she wanders into that section only to happen upon fossils from right near her home in Wollombi, NSW, which were found by a woman! Immediately fascinated, she decides to investigate further, as a sort of tribute to her brothers. When PJ and Sam arrive in Wollombi with their war ambulance, locals are very closed-mouthed about Bow Wow Gorge, the actual location that her brothers went looking. When they eventually get to Bow Wow, they find a boarded-up house and some outbuildings. The Gorge has, PJ tells Sam, a haunted feel. Their search for fossils is almost fruitless; the piece they bring home is not at all what they first believe, and exposes what could well be a murder mystery. This dual timeline story is told by Mellie and Anthea in the mid-nineteenth Century, and by PJ in the early twentieth Century. The depth of Cooper’s research is apparent on every page and her descriptive prose is very evocative: the sights, sounds and smells of the Australian bush are particularly well-rendered. The element of mystery will keep the reader enthralled through to the final pages of this superb Australian historical fiction.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘It’s blood—bad blood—that’s causing it. A new pinafore and some education ain’t going to change nothing.’ Wollombi, Hunter Valley, NSW 1847 and 1919. A fossil discovered at London’s Natural History Museum leads Penelope Jane (PJ) Martindale on a journey of discovery. PJ, who left Australia to serve as an ambulance driver in France during the Great War, returns home to her father in 1919. Her father gives her a cold welcome: he blames her for her younger brothers signing up to serve and then both ‘It’s blood—bad blood—that’s causing it. A new pinafore and some education ain’t going to change nothing.’ Wollombi, Hunter Valley, NSW 1847 and 1919. A fossil discovered at London’s Natural History Museum leads Penelope Jane (PJ) Martindale on a journey of discovery. PJ, who left Australia to serve as an ambulance driver in France during the Great War, returns home to her father in 1919. Her father gives her a cold welcome: he blames her for her younger brothers signing up to serve and then both losing their lives during the war. PJ, looking through some of her brothers’ possessions, finds some fossils they had found at Bow Wow Gorge, and she remembers the fossil she discovered at the Natural History Museum. In 1847, Mellie Vale contracts chicken pox. The last thing she remembers before succumbing to fever is a monster chasing her. Mellie is taken in by Doctor Pearson and his family: returning home is not possible although Mellie is not told why for a while. The Pearson family, trying to help Mellie, send her with their two daughters and their two friends to visit their family friend Anthea Winstanley at her home near Bow Wow Gorge. Anthea is an amateur palaeontologist, and Mellie quickly becomes caught up in the search for fossils. In 1919, PJ is keen to learn more about Bow Wow Gorge, its fossils, and its connection to Anthea Winstanley. There’s a history about Bow Wow Gorge: apparently people disappeared there 70 years ago, and locals warn people against going there. PJ and her American boyfriend Sam explore, and amongst other mysteries, they discover some bones. ‘The Fossil Hunter’ is an intriguing dual timeline story which takes the reader between the lives of Mellie in 1847 and PJ in 1919. Both time periods have their dark secrets and mysteries, and PJ is determined to find out what really happened in 1847. I really enjoyed this novel with its focus on natural history and its shifts between the stories of Mellie and PJ. A terrific blend of secrets and mystery spread across 72 years. Another terrific novel from Ms Cooper. Highly recommended to lovers of Australian historical fiction featuring some terrific female characters. 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

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    ‘In this moment she recognised that her curiosity about the past - this house, Bow Wow Gorge, its fossils and Anthea Winstanley - had become a consuming passion. Who was the elusive woman and what had made her leave this place?’ A new Australian historical fiction book by Tea Cooper is reason to celebrate as she guarantees great escapism. I have enjoyed all of Tea’s previous works as they have proven to be consistently engaging and masterfully crafted tales of mystery and intrigue. In her latest ‘In this moment she recognised that her curiosity about the past - this house, Bow Wow Gorge, its fossils and Anthea Winstanley - had become a consuming passion. Who was the elusive woman and what had made her leave this place?’ A new Australian historical fiction book by Tea Cooper is reason to celebrate as she guarantees great escapism. I have enjoyed all of Tea’s previous works as they have proven to be consistently engaging and masterfully crafted tales of mystery and intrigue. In her latest offering, The Fossil Hunter, Tea provides the perfect blend of fact and fiction in a riveting historical mystery. Giving her readers a dual narrative timeline set in the years 1847 and 1919, Tea has cleverly placed both people and incidents that let her readers gather all the clues to place together for a satisfying conclusion. ‘You have to be patient. You can look, and look, and see nothing and then the next moment the very thing you’ve been searching for is right in front of your eyes, where it has sat forever. It’s a lot like life.’ I fully appreciated how the mysteries of the past lent beautifully into the present timeline of discovery. I felt the themes ranging from folklore to scientific discoveries, or bullying and PTSD were sensitively presented by Tea. Along with unique characters and family secrets, Tea included such fascinating information on fossil collecting and interesting scientific revelations. ‘Only at Bow Wow, beneath the dense canopy of the trees, did Anthea truly find peace, the place where the layers of life reached back to the beginning of time, before a single human had walked the land, before the earth solidified. From the towering sandstone cliffs to the meandering creek, which over millions of years had carved a narrow winding gorge, the landscape had slowly revealed its secrets.’ Tea is to be congratulated for presenting such an engaging and comprehensive tale. The settings both in England and Australia are authentic, particularly with the incorporation of real life events such as the fossil discoveries in Lyme Regis in England. It is the everyday cultural feel, from traipsing down Bow Wow Gorge in the Hunter Valley, to visiting the Natural Museum in London that Tea effortlessly includes the reader so seamlessly into her riveting tale. Congratulations Tea on once again proving your prose is up there with the best. From strong protagonists, to family drama and mystery, to the breathtaking vistas of the bush - I highly recommend the tale that is, The Fossil Hunter. ‘PJ took one last look at the dappled gorge and, tucking the fossil in her pocket, left behind the fascinating secrets of Bow Wow Gorge, regret prickling her skin.’ This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Smith Writes

    The Fossil Hunter is my first Tea Cooper novel, but it certainly won’t be my last. What a terrific novel of historical fiction this was. It contained so many of the story elements I like best: pioneering women, natural history, and an abandoned house tainted by mystery. What a talented writer Tea Cooper is, both with character creation and her story weaving. There were some serious underlying themes explored within both timelines and the links between both eras were solid and plausible – somethin The Fossil Hunter is my first Tea Cooper novel, but it certainly won’t be my last. What a terrific novel of historical fiction this was. It contained so many of the story elements I like best: pioneering women, natural history, and an abandoned house tainted by mystery. What a talented writer Tea Cooper is, both with character creation and her story weaving. There were some serious underlying themes explored within both timelines and the links between both eras were solid and plausible – something I always look for in dual narrative historical fiction. References to early female pioneers of palaeontology – fossil hunters – were sprinkled throughout, offering a springboard for further reading if you were so inclined. It was just by coincidence that I recently watched the film Ammonite, a story about Mary Anning, the 19th century English palaeontologist, who is mentioned as an associate of Anthea Winstanley in The Fossil Hunter. I love it when my reading and viewing crosses over like that. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fossil Hunter and recommend it highly to fans of Australian historical fiction. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa - (Aussie Girl)

    3.5 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    What a wonderful book from Tea Cooper. I do like her books and her writing and I really enjoyed this one as it just kept me reading and kept me interested in the story of two interesting and to a point strong women from different eras who eventually came together at a later time. This is a book of two stories, two women and two times. First we have Mellie, a young girl in 1847 and her story of loss, despair and of finding a passion that continued on throughout her life. Then there is PJ, again a What a wonderful book from Tea Cooper. I do like her books and her writing and I really enjoyed this one as it just kept me reading and kept me interested in the story of two interesting and to a point strong women from different eras who eventually came together at a later time. This is a book of two stories, two women and two times. First we have Mellie, a young girl in 1847 and her story of loss, despair and of finding a passion that continued on throughout her life. Then there is PJ, again a young girl, in 1919 who has left Australia to help out in France during World War 1. She too suffers loss and through this discovers a world she had not known existed. The stories flow seamlessly from the two different eras and you can see they will collide at some stage bringing with it secrets, hope and acceptance. The writing and research is brilliant and the characters are well though out and well represented, some being stronger and more prominent while others bringing just enough to the story to make it interesting. I loved this book, I loved that it is set mainly in Australia and the description of the bush and the lifestyle is so relevant to us Australians. And I must say I did have a little giggle towards the end of the book when PJ told her fiancé Sam that echidnas were shy creatures as our echidnas here in Tasmanian are not really known for being shy and we see them everywhere, even walking down the side of the road. They are adorable! I Highly recommend this wonderful, passionate and intriguing story. The Fossil Hunter Tea Cooper Harlequin Australia

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fran Whiteman

    This is the second historically novel I have listened to by this author- strong female characters & Australian history. The fossil hunters have it all - history, mystery & romance.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Spear

    Tea Cooper is a best-selling author of historical fiction. Many great books have flowed from her prolific pen, including 'The Fossil Hunter' her latest impressive offering. This is a dual timeline novel (my favourite kind!) where a search for fossils in the Bow Wow Gorge in the Hunter Valley, Australia, leads to an unexpected and fascinating past-meets-present mystery. The book begins in 1847, in the setting of Wollombi, NSW. From the opening chapter, we meet Mellie Vale, a feverish sick girl wi Tea Cooper is a best-selling author of historical fiction. Many great books have flowed from her prolific pen, including 'The Fossil Hunter' her latest impressive offering. This is a dual timeline novel (my favourite kind!) where a search for fossils in the Bow Wow Gorge in the Hunter Valley, Australia, leads to an unexpected and fascinating past-meets-present mystery. The book begins in 1847, in the setting of Wollombi, NSW. From the opening chapter, we meet Mellie Vale, a feverish sick girl with a big imagination who fears that bunyips, a man-eating mythical creature from Aboriginal stories, will capture her. This tale fires Mellie’s mind and rattles her to the core as it erodes any security she holds. But she is ill and to regain her health, she is sent to live with Anthea Winstanley, a palaeontologist, a fossil hunter at Bow Wow Gorge. Yet for Mellie, leaving her familiar surroundings is as scary as the creature that haunts her. But she must go and it is here in this new setting, where her true adventures begin. We meet Anthea Winstanley who is most at home under a dense canopy of trees exploring a treasure trove of ancient remains. She seeks prehistoric marine reptiles and longs for a discovery. This journey began with her late husband, Benjamin, a man who made her heart sing and her mind alive with possibilities. Here they ‘found a slice of England in the Hunter Valley’ and created a house of love while exploring the secrets of the Gorge. Although Benjamin ignited her passion for fossils, the findings of English Palaeontologist, Mary Anning, (who in 1823 found the first complete skeleton of the plesiosaur—a sea reptile thought to have superseded the ichthyosaur on England’s Jurassic Coast) spurred her on. Fast forward to the second and most current timeline (1919), when we meet Penelope Jane Martindale (PJ) strolling along Cromwell Road, London, deep in thought over her lost brothers: sad casualties of war. She is nursing a heart filled with regret, blaming herself for their fateful decision: one that has put her at odds with her father. With the haunting voices of the past fuelling her footsteps, and before heading back to Australia, she returns to the last place she saw Dan and Riley alive: the Natural History Museum. She goes there, seeking answers, hoping to find a connection to their past. So, coming from her own harsh battles of WW1 to relationship battles with her family, PJ embarks on a journey of healing, forgiveness and discovery. PJ is an intriguing character with a sense that something is out there— just beyond her grasp— waiting to be found and freed. She becomes consumed by the thought of a possible connection between her brothers’ collection from Bow Wow Gorge and the fossil findings on England’s Jurassic Coast. It’s a feeling that drives her to set Sam’s proposal aside and to complete unfinished historical business. PJ, a determined strong willed woman, sets her sights on a mission and must follow it through with whatever evidence she can find. American Sam has worked with PJ in the warzone and proven himself there, but when we first meet him, he is not necessarily the most likeable character. Over the course of the story, though, he proves himself to be an interesting match with useful skills. His love for PJ is real; his loyalty true. Best of all, his support and devotion help her achieve what she seeks. I do not want to spoil the charm and surprise of the plotline but will say reading Tea’s novel is like looking at the many threads of a tapestry where some are looped together, others overlapped, entwined, diverging and even merging in the end. This variegated pattern creates many memorable scenes and when the past and present come together, we get one unified whole. The double historical timeline draws you in from the first page. The reader, like a piece of yarn wrapped around a crochet needle, gets hooked and woven into the story. Each intriguing branch of the plot pulls you into its scenes, where you are not just an observer but feel more like a participant for you walk in the character’s shoes and see through their eyes. Tea is talented with her descriptions and atmospheric settings. The conversations and thoughts of the characters grip your attention so profoundly that you become engrossed in the drama of their lives. I love how Tea has utilised the historical place of Bow Wow Gorge to create her own magical story. I have stood on distant shores and in faraway castles, closed my eyes and imagined—even sensed the spirit of a place. I’ve felt the presence of those who lived before me; who have stood in the same spots and I have absorbed the personality of the land/sea/mountain scape and then put those elusive emotions into words. Writers can do this in their imagination— to conjure images of the past. And Tea, as an excellent story-teller, has captured and delivered with great gusto all these wonderful bewitching elements through her well-rounded characters and atmospheric scenes. Not only does Tea’s attention to detail of the two eras help you get lost in the settings but also the tension is precise and keeps you turning the pages as one mystery evolves into another. The plot has many interesting detours and open roads that branch out and carry us to a fascinating climax. The storyline of 1847 sets everything up and takes us so far, but the 1919 thread ultimately provides the answers to the mysteries and questions raised throughout the novel. One of my favourite lines in the novel: ‘An unbroken thread of connection danced over her, tying her to the place as though she’d brought something precious back into the light.’ The joy of discovery is at the heart of this book: not only in seeking and finding ‘ancient bones’ but also in unearthing people’s historical connections. This novel is a fresh take on women fossil hunters of the time. The ending offers a surprising twist that many might not expect. And we learn some interesting snippets of Australian history and Aboriginal culture. I admired these robust ladies of 1847 and 1919 as they faced their challenges and found ways to overcome them. True fans of Tea’s works will happily devour this rich feast and others will enter for the first time her fascinating ring of historical fiction. But both will return, time and time again, to the deep well of this creative story-teller. This is a novel I highly recommend. 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thanks to HarperCollins Australia and Netgalley for an ARC to review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie Bellbrae

    Tea Cooper introduces us to another delightfully interesting subject in The Fossil Hunter, set in her beloved Wollombi in the Hunter Valley of NSW. As is her trademark, the narratives follow two female characters, divided by 75 years – with timelines set in Bow Wow Gorge in 1847 and 1919. 1847- twelve year old Mellie is sent away with the daughters of her carer to a family friend, to escape the shadow of her father’s execution. It is through Mellie’s eyes we meet Anthea Winstanley – the inimitable Tea Cooper introduces us to another delightfully interesting subject in The Fossil Hunter, set in her beloved Wollombi in the Hunter Valley of NSW. As is her trademark, the narratives follow two female characters, divided by 75 years – with timelines set in Bow Wow Gorge in 1847 and 1919. 1847- twelve year old Mellie is sent away with the daughters of her carer to a family friend, to escape the shadow of her father’s execution. It is through Mellie’s eyes we meet Anthea Winstanley – the inimitable middle-aged fossil hunter who inspires Mellie to search for what she terms ‘dragon scales.’ Fossil hunting- palaeontology -had a particularly avid following in Victoria times, and with Darwin’s theories on the origin of the species putting God’s creation in question, many found fame and fortune in unearthing fossils from cliffs and bedrock. Lyme Regis and Mary Anning of ichthyosaur fame, is referred to in the narrative of PJ - Penelope Jane Martindale, who has returned home with her fiance after they met driving ambulances during the Great War. Although an independent and modern thinking woman, PJ still seeks approval from her Doctor father, and his acceptance that she had nothing to do with the death of her younger brothers– both were killed in France after they ran away to sign up. A delightful mystery uncovers a trail of mistruths and speculation as PJ and Sam discover a box of labelled fossils and search to determine the truth about what PJ’s brothers had found. Encountering age-old rumours regarding missing girls and deadly bunjips, when the pair find the deserted home of Anthea Winstanley, PJ works to put an end to rumours that have perpetuated at Bow Wow Gorge for decades. I enjoyed the Australian flavour to a subject I have only previously read set in Lyme Regis– and palaeontologist Anthea was a delightful character. With a slightly haunting quality in the theme, I couldn’t help but have visions of girls in high necked white frocks, lost in the rocks and then forgotten in time.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karyn

    A dual time line historical fiction about fossils and the people who uncovered their existence in Bow Wow Gorge in the Hunter Valley. A wonderful, intriguing mystery spanning the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, following WWI. I love Tea Copper’s storytelling as she captures your imagination from page one and you can’t help but devour the story. I have read all her books and this is yet another number one read. The story begins in 1847 in Wollombi in NSW. Mellie Vale who has lost her mother and bro A dual time line historical fiction about fossils and the people who uncovered their existence in Bow Wow Gorge in the Hunter Valley. A wonderful, intriguing mystery spanning the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, following WWI. I love Tea Copper’s storytelling as she captures your imagination from page one and you can’t help but devour the story. I have read all her books and this is yet another number one read. The story begins in 1847 in Wollombi in NSW. Mellie Vale who has lost her mother and brother and who doesn’t know what has happened to her father is staying with the local doctors family, The Pearson’s, following an attack of chicken pox. Mellie along with the Drs girls and family friends girls are sent to stay with Anthea Winstanley, a palaeontologist, for a holiday break. Anthea, the fossil hunter, takes the girls on daily digs at Bow Wow Gorge where troubled Mellie seems to come into her own and her adventures begin. It is 1919 and PJ , Penelope Jane Martindale is in London following her service as an ambulance driver in the War. PJ lost her 2 brothers in the War and is keen to return to Australia to see her father who is the present local Dr in Wollombi. She visits the Natural History Museum in London the last place she saw her brothers and finds a fossil from Bow Wow Gorge. This sets her on a mission to find a connection between her brothers and the fossils they used to hunt as children. She returns to Wollombi with Sam, an American Captain she worked with in the war and who wants to be more than her friend. There are so many connections over so many years and the intrigue of who, where, why and how come together in a very satisfying ending. Can’t wait for the next Tea Cooper story!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tien

    The Fossil Hunter is November's BOTM from The Book Stack. I have been meaning to read this author's works for some time now as I've really enjoyed the one short historical romance she wrote. Yet, I haven't until now! The premise of alternate periods imbued with mystery and set in a familiar regional Australian setting were very interesting to me.  There are 2 main characters, one per time setting, and each are facing their own challenges. Yet, in the end, as past and present collided, they found The Fossil Hunter is November's BOTM from The Book Stack. I have been meaning to read this author's works for some time now as I've really enjoyed the one short historical romance she wrote. Yet, I haven't until now! The premise of alternate periods imbued with mystery and set in a familiar regional Australian setting were very interesting to me.  There are 2 main characters, one per time setting, and each are facing their own challenges. Yet, in the end, as past and present collided, they found in each other a kindred spirit. I have found this book to be a very easy read and definitely have enjoyed this spin of fossil hunting. However, I'm left slightly unsatisfied as I found I have questions which weren't quite answered in the book. My thanks to The Book Stack* for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts *https://www.facebook.com/BookStackAus/

  19. 4 out of 5

    AliBri

    It's been a while since I read a book that I could not put down... that had me turning the pages and promising myself 'just one more chapter'. The Fossil Hunter drifts between events occurring in 1842 and the mystery that surrounds a child, Mellie, and a young woman returned from service as an ambulance driver on the western front in 1918. The accidental discovery of a fossil in the museum in London sets PJ on a quest to solve the mystery of Bow Wow Gorge. Some dual time line stories can bounce It's been a while since I read a book that I could not put down... that had me turning the pages and promising myself 'just one more chapter'. The Fossil Hunter drifts between events occurring in 1842 and the mystery that surrounds a child, Mellie, and a young woman returned from service as an ambulance driver on the western front in 1918. The accidental discovery of a fossil in the museum in London sets PJ on a quest to solve the mystery of Bow Wow Gorge. Some dual time line stories can bounce the reader around and out of hte story but Ms Cooper is a master of the craft and the events follow logically and seamlessly. All in all a most enjoyable read and highly recommend for the long summer days ahead! Thank you Harper Collins for the provision of an advance reader copy. My opinions as expressed are my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Craig / Phil

    Thank you Harlequin and Tea for sending us a copy to read and review. Historical fiction is a firm favourite in my reading repertoire and one that is done well like The Fossil Hunter gets a big tick of approval. I was transported back to colonial days and the period of after the Great War. The dual time line weaving around strong family ties, stoic women and the intrigue of fossils and eventually tying up to meet with the present day. Mellie Vale is sent away after recovering from a fever and an o Thank you Harlequin and Tea for sending us a copy to read and review. Historical fiction is a firm favourite in my reading repertoire and one that is done well like The Fossil Hunter gets a big tick of approval. I was transported back to colonial days and the period of after the Great War. The dual time line weaving around strong family ties, stoic women and the intrigue of fossils and eventually tying up to meet with the present day. Mellie Vale is sent away after recovering from a fever and an over active imagination to a family friend in Bow Wow in the forests of the Hunter Valley in 1847. Being chased by a monster through the bush is not believed although Bunyips are featured in the indigenous folklore. Bullied by the other girls accompanying her she thrives in the company of the family friend Anthea Winstanley. A budding palaeontologist inspires Mellie to prove what creatures once populated the area. After serving the injured on the war torn battle fields of Europe, PJ discovers a link to a fossil in a London museum to her deceased brothers. Her return to Australia creates angst and anticipation as she brings her American beau home to meet her father and delve into the link she discovered. Her father bereft after the loss of his sons proves his obstinate and old fashioned in his views. Three strong female characters made this a real stand out. Anthea was ahead of her time and was determined to succeed in her diggings, she was funny and her nurturing of Mellie was beautiful. PJ was a heroine of the war and very forthright, encapsulating the virtues of pioneering women that were the foundation of this colonial land. A very well written and enjoyable story that has inspired me to catch up with Tea’s back catalogue.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was totally engrossed in this fossil hunting story! An excellent look into Australian history. I must research bunyips. I found myself so engaged I looked for the photos that were being described. Dinosaur fossils are found in a gorge and the gorge needs to be cared for and protected. But history and rumours can sometimes do the job. I enjoyed this story and will eagerly look for more by this Australian author.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Roland

    Tea Cooper always writes a good story based on some thorough research. I loved the historical aspect of this story along with the references to towns in my local area. I didn’t feel the writing was as good as some of her other books though.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Grounded in historical background, this story of two different times is fascinating. How they come together is amazing. I enjoyed both time frames and admired the strong female characters. This was well put together and marvellous entertainment.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane C Forte

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Courtney

  27. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wendy McNamara

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  31. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve Long

  32. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

  33. 5 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

  34. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  35. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  36. 4 out of 5

    Jayne

  37. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

  38. 4 out of 5

    Anne DS

  39. 4 out of 5

    Moira

  40. 5 out of 5

    Michele

  41. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  42. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  43. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  44. 4 out of 5

    Donna McEachran

  45. 5 out of 5

    K

  46. 4 out of 5

    Bronwyn

  47. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Martin

  48. 5 out of 5

    Elena

  49. 5 out of 5

    Emily Yager

  50. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  51. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sharis

  52. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

  53. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  54. 4 out of 5

    Elyse

  55. 4 out of 5

    Chandel

  56. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  57. 4 out of 5

    Kelli Carlson

  58. 5 out of 5

    Jim

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