Review: Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain

Lady of the Butterflies
Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain
Release Date:  July 5, 2011
Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Page Count:  656 pages
Source:  book provided by the publisher

One of the great natural scientists of her age, Eleanor Glanville was a woman ahead of her time-the beautiful daughter of a seventeenth-century Puritan nobleman whose unconventional passions scandalized society. Her life was marked by two reckless preoccupations: a fascination with science-especially the study of butterflies-and a tempestuous love affair with the dashing soldier Richard Glanville that nearly cost her everything she held dear.

My Review:  Historical Fiction beautifully brought to life through the eyes of a lovely and talented author, Fiona Mountain.  Ms. Mountain takes the true life story, struggles and discoveries of Eleanor Glanville and brings forth an epic story that will mesmerize many, in Lady of the Butterflies.

To be honest, I did not even realize this was a true story based novel until the very end.  That knowledge added an extra depth and appreciation to my perception of the story.  I am always amazed and transfixed to read stories of how life once was and how horribly women were once thought as (perhaps not “horrible” but demeaning and unimportant, per-say).  This life never ceases to amaze and appall me.  Lady of the Butterflies takes place during the time frame of 1662 through 1700, a time when woman were taught to be submissive, take on no education and are owned by their husbands to do with what they please – this includes hitting, beating, etc.  What is to happen when a young girl is full of curiosity, adventure and with a father who enables such traits by educating her and encouraging her?  What is to happen when this girl’s father dies by disease and is left with no one who understands how to care for such a child?

This is the life and story of Eleanor Glanville who has always had a deep love and curiosity of life around her.  She is a courageous, brilliant and wonderful character who I could not help but fall instantly in love with.  Her appreciation of life and the natural God-given gifts provided by nature is lovely and wonderful.  I loved her fixation with the butterflies and her unselfishness.  I also loved learning about the discovery and usefulness of herbs and the area of apothecary.  Lady of the Butterflies was not only an entertaining and emotionally charged story,  it was truly interesting and educational.

Lady of the Butterflies is one of those books that tears me.  Why?  It was extremely well written, engrossing and informative; however, on the flip side, the story was rather long and dragged on at times.  Perhaps that is just my perception, but for whatever it is worth, that is my thought.  This is a story that goes beyond a historical fictional novel and leans more toward an epic story.  The writing is incredibly beautiful, thought-provoking and poetic.  While parts did run rather descriptively long, the overall appeal of the story was great.  For lovers of historical fiction, I recommend Lady of the Butterflies.  Be aware that this is not an overly light read, but one that will satisfy and perhaps even pique an interest to delve further into Eleanor’s life and history, her children and husbands, and the true life of other characters within the story.  I know that I am anxious to do some research of my own now.  I also greatly look forward to reading more works by Fiona Mountain!

Favorite Quote:  “In part, no doubt.  But as far back as the ancient Greeks, it has been believed that butterflies represent the souls of the dead.  They are a token, Eleanor, a promise.  A caterpillar begins as a greedy worm, which surely represents the baseness of our life on earth.  Then they are entombed, just as we are entombed in the grave.  They emerge on glorious wings, just as the bodies of the dead will rise at the sound of the last trumpet on the final Judgment Day.  God put butterflies on this earth to remind us of paradise, of His promise of eternal life.  To give us hope.”

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