The Butterfly Summer
Published by: Headline Review
Date: 19th May 2016
What magic is this?
You follow the hidden creek towards a long-forgotten house.
They call it Keepsake, a place full of wonder ... and danger. Locked inside the crumbling elegance of its walls lies the story of the Butterfly Summer, a story you've been waiting all your life to hear.
This house is Nina Parr's birthright. It holds the truth about her family - and a chance to put everything right at last.
The Butterfly Summer is the first novel I've read by Harriet Evans. In all honesty, the blurb alone confirmed that this isn't the type of book that I would normally read but I decided to give it a go anyway as there was something intriguing about it.
The book tells us the story of Nina Parr, who's father died when she was little. She grew up knowing next to nothing about her father, until one day she bumps into an old lady in the library who seems to know a lot about her. This leads to Nina trying to discover her past, and soon enough, everything she thought she knew starts to unravel in front of her.
The Butterfly Summer is written from two perspectives: Nina's, and her grandmother Teddy's, therefore going back and forth in time. It is Teddy's story that is most intriguing, as we find out about Keepsake and the tragic and disturbing history surrounding the house, although Nina's perspective is far more readable and concise. It's difficult to talk too much about the story without spoiling anything, but whilst the book feels rather stilted at the beginning, slowly but surely it becomes clearer how the two stories are intertwined.
To be honest, I struggled with The Butterfly Summer to begin with. It took me a while to get into the flow of the book, especially as it is written from two perspectives. I found myself plodding along through the first part, wondering if I would ever make it through the book. However, things definitely picked up from the second part onwards and I managed to devour the rest whilst on a train journey.
The concept of the book was very interesting however, at times I felt that it was a bit long winded. There were plenty of twists and turns which kept the latter half, in particular, interesting, although I do believe that there were a couple of unnecessary twists in the book which didn't add anything.
One of the best things about the book was seeing the links develop between the characters as the story went on. Whilst it was confusing at the beginning to place each character, they were all very carefully woven into the story and some connections we very clever. I did find myself working out some mysteries as the book went on however, there was still an element of surprise.
There was a lot of intricate detailing to the story - from the vivid descriptions of Keepsake, to the character connections, it's clear to see that Harriet Evans has put a lot of thought into laying out The Butterfly Summer. The book also covers a wide variety of topics, including the war, the London riots, failed relationships, family secrets, deception and a few others that I won't mention as they might spoil the suspense!
I wish that I could say that I loved this book, but unfortunately I didn't. Once I got into the book, the pace definitely picked up and I found myself enjoying it more but I didn't feel that the story impacted on me as much as it should have. I'm putting this down to the fact that it's not my usual genre of book, however, I am glad that I persevered with it. If you enjoy novels with family history at the heart of it, then it's worth giving The Butterfly Summer a go.
I would like to thank both Katrina for her honest review,
and to Headline Review for providing a proof copy of
A Butterfly Summer.