EXCERPT: Admiral House, Southwold, Suffolk, June 1943
. . . I tripped up the stairs that turned round and round quickly before Daisy returned. When I reached the top, I put my hand to the knob of the big oak door and twisted it. Daisy clearly hadn’t locked it, because it opened, and one step later, there I was in Daddy’s secret office.
It smelt of polish, and light illuminated the circular walls that surrounded the windows Daisy had just cleaned. On the wall directly in front of me hung what must be an entire extended family of Red Admiral butterflies. They were lined up in rows of four behind glass enclosed by a gilt frame.
As I took a step closer, I was confused, because I wondered how the butterflies could stay so still, and what they had found to eat inside their little glass prison.
Then I saw the heads of the pins that stuck them to the backing. I glanced at the other walls and saw that they too were covered with the butterflies we’d caught over the years.
With a groan of horror, I turned and pelted down the steps and out into the garden. Seeing Daisy approaching from the house, I turned and ran around the back of the Folly and into the woodland that surrounded it. When I was far enough away, I sank down onto the roots of a big oak tree, gulping in breath.
‘They’re dead! They’re dead! They’re dead! How could he have lied to me?’ I shouted in between sobs.
I stayed in the woods a very long time, until I heard Daisy calling for me. I only wished I could ask Daddy why he’d killed them when they were so beautiful, and then hung them up like trophies so he could look up and see their deadness on the walls.
Well, I couldn’t ask, because he wasn’t here, but I had to trust and believe there was a very good reason for the murders in our butterfly kingdom.
As I stood and began to walk slowly back to the house, I couldn’t think of a single one. All I knew was that I never wanted to set foot in the Folly again.
ABOUT THE BUTTERFLY ROOM BY LUCINDA RILEY: Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her own idyllic childhood catching butterflies with her beloved father, and raised her own children, Posy knows she must make an agonising decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she has spent twenty-five years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell it.
Then a face appears from the past – Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken fifty years ago. Already struggling to cope with her son Sam’s inept business dealings, and the sudden reappearance of her younger son Nick after ten years in Australia, Posy is reluctant to trust in Freddie’s renewed affection. And unbeknown to Posy, Freddie – and Admiral House – have a devastating secret to reveal . . .
MY THOUGHTS: I loved this multi-generational family saga beginning in the 1940’s when Posy is a child and culminating with Posy’s 70th birthday. The timelines do go back and forth, but do so in a logical and seamless way that in no way interrupts the flow of the story.
It has all the ingredients I expect of a family saga: a big old crumbling family home, mystery, sibling rivalry, romance, secrets, lies . . . But the biggest secret? I never could have guessed what it would be, and it left me stunned.
This is a big book at 628 pages, but it oozes atmosphere and I quickly became entrenched in Posy’s life. Riley’s characters are magnificent; from Posy with her inherent wisdom and dignity, to her sons, both very different and both of whom are facing disasters in their private lives, their families, and finally Freddie, a great love from Posy’s past – they will all worm their way into your heart and occupy your mind from the first to the last page.
I meandered through the first half of this book, content to dip in and out of it between other reads, but once I hit the halfway point I devoured the second half in one sitting, totally engrossed, unable to put it down.
Be warned – you will need tissues. Close to the end I found myself sobbing violently, not pretty crying with tears rolling silently down my cheeks, but the full on waterworks as I railed against the injustice of fate. But I finished with a sigh of pleasure and a smile of satisfaction.
The Butterfly Room is my first book by Lucinda Riley. It definitely won’t be my last. Spellbinding. ❤
‘It suddenly struck me that I hadn’t really thought the future through; and now here I was in it.’
THE AUTHOR: Lucinda Riley is an Irish author of popular historical fiction and a former actress. She spent the first few years of her life in the village of Drumbeg near Belfast before moving to England. At age 14 she moved to London to a specialist drama and ballet school. She wrote her first book aged twenty four.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blue Box Press, Author Buzz via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley for review.
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