Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Sound of Butterflies-Rachael King

The Sound of Butterflies
Rachael King
Morrow, Oct 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780061357640

Nouveau riche Brazilian rubber barons throw away money on the frivolous things like sending their soiled clothing to Europe for cleaning. They treat their pets like royalty and their employees as expendable slaves discarded if unable to perform the horrific field work. Anyone who objects to the abusive maltreatment is killed.

In 1904 English naturalist Thomas Edgar comes to Brazil in search of a rumored new butterfly species. Several months later, he comes home, a shell of his former enthusiastic self. Although outwardly she shows her spouse little emotion beyond welcoming him home, his wife Sophie, horrified by the scars all over Thomas’ body and his withdrawal, needs to know what happened to her silent her idealistic husband because she plans to heal him with her love.

THE SOUND OF BUTTERFLIES is a fantastic historical tale that provides a vivid light on a cruel Dickensian period in Brazil. The story line moves back and forth between January1904 in Brazil and May 1904 in England connected by a journal, letters and the perspectives of what happened to the naturalist from that of his wife and himself. Adding to the fascination of this powerful early twentieth century character study is the parable of searching for the perfect specimen in a world of cruelty, abuse and imperfection. Rachael King provides a somber glimpse of inhumane treatment and its aftermath on one person and his spouse that still resonates today in world of genocide, ethnic cleansing and rationalized rendition.

Harriet Klausner

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