Book Club: The Currency Lass

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Author: Tea Cooper
ISBN: 9781489226556
RRP: $29.99

Tea Cooper is the Australian author of both contemporary and historical Australian fiction, none of which I had previously read.

The Currency Lass is an historical story set in the early 1850s in the Hunter region, now some of the town names (because they were towns back then) were familiar but many of them definitely were not. I must say I was intrigued by the descriptions of Bathurst because that’s a place I have been.

Cooper has painted a vivid picture of a young Australia, definitely still a land of wide open spaces. Not even talk of a train, it’s all horseback, carriages and steamboat to get around. This book combines historical fact with a vibrant imagination to bring to life the Australia of the 1850s as gold-fever was striking.

Catherine Cottingham is the sole heir of her beloved philanthropic father, she has been groomed to take over the running of Cottington Hill when the time comes and she looks forward to continuing his life’s work. With that in mind she can’t understand why he is so determined that she marry wealthy Sydney businessman Henry Bartholomew, a man that she finds repellent and distasteful. A character that I found odious from his very first scene and only grew to loathe more as the story unfolded.

Catherine has no intention of marrying Batholomew and she tells him so on their first outing, to the circus. Unfortunately for Catherine when her father passes away and the will is read the reasons her father wished her to marry the wealthy businessman become clear, but Catherine is no closer to being convinced that it’s the right decision.

Inheriting the property is only possible once she reaches twenty-one; so in the meantime it is held in trust by the family solicitor, who also believes she should marry. The marriage seems like it could be a good idea, Bartholemew will pay off the mortgage on the property and it will be owned outright but Catherine doesn’t believe he has honourable intentions when it comes to Cottington Hill. The minute she does marry all of her assets will pass to her husband, she isn’t able to own property as a married woman. The only option she can see that works is to avoid Bartholomew until she reaches twenty-one and is able to inherit the property in her own right.

Catherine is an independent and headstrong young woman, determined to be mistress of Cottington Hill and have the property be her only love, if only she can stay away from Bartholomew long enough. She is also an accomplished horse rider so watching the circus tricks made her long for the exhilaration to be found performing them. Her desire to avoid Bartholomew and the circus heading to the goldfields prompt her to do what many people have dreamed of doing, and run away with the circus.

There is more to Rudi’s Equestrian Circus than meets the eye. They travel the countryside in search of audiences but that is not all they seek. Sergey, one of the star attractions, is on the hunt for revenge and he won’t rest until he finds the man responsible for his brother’s death. His desire for revenge has overtaken his life but Catherine’s addition to the circus may just remind him there’s more to life.

The Currency Lass is a tale of the thirst for revenge but also of betrayal, forgery and greed. It isn’t all dark and dishonourable, alongside the depravity is a deep sense of love, loyalty and sacrifice for the greater good.

The characters are complex and the situations they end up faced with become a little too coincidental creating extra confusion and adding an extra layer of tension. This was an engrossing novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to see a sequel set a few years in the future that lets us see how things have panned out for our fair-haired heroine.

The Currency Lass is book #9 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017

Tea Cooper can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

The Currency Lass is published by Harlequin Mira and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira 20 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading The Currency Lass so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “Book Club: The Currency Lass

  1. Thank you for the offer to review this Australian book, The Currency Lass by Tea Cooper. It is always great to read a book by an Australian author.

    It is the story of Catherine Cottingham who lives in the Hunter Valley, NSW in the 1850’s.

    Catherine is visiting Sydney with her sick father, there she meets Mr. Bartholomew a man her father has decide she should marry. She goes with Mr. Bartholomew where they visit a circus. It’s a place she loves and enjoys especially Sergey Petrov who is a horseman.

    Unfortunately her father dies while they are in Sydney and she must return home to bury him in Cottingham Hill.

    After his death Catherine learns of debts she didn’t know about, so in that case the property and possessions will then belong to her husband. She has the idea that if she hides until her 21st birthday which is months away she will inherit everything.

    She runs away to the circus a place she feels freedom. I loved the book it had many twists and turns. It was well written and goes to show how things have changed for females throughout the years.

  2. The Currency Lass is a dramatic story about a young woman who runs away to join the circus. The eponymous character is Catherine Cottingham, an independent young woman who is orphaned on the verge of her 21st birthday. Her philanthropist father has passed away and left her riddled with a saddlebag of debt. This then leaves her with a tough decision- to marry the horrible but wealthy Henry Bartholomew or to bide her time and inherit the family estate as the sole female heir.

    Over the course of several hundred pages historical fiction writer, Tea Cooper has crafted a delightful slice of Australiana and a book that shares a few things in common with the work of Bryce Courtenay. Cottingham is an inspiring character and a determined woman who shows a natural aptitude for horse-riding. In joining the circus she develops a sense of freedom and empowerment, which is a far cry from the potential alternative she faces. Along the line she also forges friendships with the other circus performers, including the handsome, Sergey Petrov. The question is, will she be able to keep up the act for long enough?

    Cooper has crafted quite a rich and detailed book that blends together facts about Australia in the 19th century as well as fictional characters and elements. The reader is treated to a well-constructed and believable story that is brimming with interesting, believable and well-formed characters. The Currency Lass is ultimately an epic slice of Australian, historic fiction and one that proves to be worth its weight in gold.

  3. I enjoyed reading this book and found it was not heavy as some books set in older eras can be. I loved that the book was set in Australia and particularly that it included Van Diemans Land where I live!

    I liked the main character Catherine who was a sweet 20 year old girl months away from turning 21 which is the age she must be to inherit the property her father worked tirelessly for his entire life. She left in a hard position when she finds out her father was in debt and has made preparations for her to marry a wealthy businessman whom she despises.

    By chance, Catherine meets the trick rider Sergey and runs away with the circus to escape her problems and hide until she becomes of age in the hope she can avoid the marriage. Sergey becomes a 2nd main character to the story and we get to see things from his perspective a lot too. The relationship between Catherine and Sergey builds, and his story entwines with Catherine’s in ways that were unexpected.

    The book focuses on the characters and their interactions a lot more than events but it does weave in some truths about the 1850s such as the gold fields, locations etc. It’s great to read the information about this is included at the end of the book and explains what is based on truth and what was fiction.
    While I enjoyed the read, I found the ending and the final few chapters were a little disappointing. I think the last few chapters were a little almost unbelievable, and the ending needed to go on for a little longer. For me I found it was too much of a classic ‘happily ever after ending’ but if you like books that give you closure you will enjoy this ending as there is not a great deal that isn’t tidied up.

    Thanks to Tea Cooper for writing this book and to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read it.

  4. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read Tea Coopers book The Currency Lass.

    I found the Currency Lass a thoroughly enjoyable book to read especially as it covers a favourite time in Australian history and adds the uniqueness of a women ahead of her time. When most men would find it daunting to have a lady and one as young as Catherine, vying to run and own a property in her own right, Sergey is obviously ok with that. And he is breaking his own rules by seeking out the murderer of his brother and allowing his sister free rein in her life.

    Tea has created a wonderful story around the circus ( who knew that a circus existed in the gold fields) and wove Catherine and Sergey love story into a bizarre circle of events. The information given in the back of the book also was an interesting read.

    I found especially exciting the joy of the horse riding tricks that Catherine found, something to call her own in a life that would have otherwise have been boring and follow the life of everyone elses, had it gone down the road of the marriage to Bartholmew.

    Well done Tea, not just the usual read.

  5. Thanks everyone for your lovely reviews. I’m thrilled you all enjoyed my Currency Lass. As to a sequel … I hadn’t planned one but you never know!

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