This is another book I’ve been listening to on the One Click library audio book service. There are 42 chapters but I abandoned it at chapter 13…
This is the official synopsis:
Federica Campione adores her father. No matter that Ramon, a distinguished traveller and writer, spends months away from their home on the exotic Chilean coast; as soon as he’s back, his daughter has eyes for no one but him. When he gives her a magical box from Peru she believes he will always be there for her.
Devastated when her parents’ marriage falls apart, Federica is forced to set up home in Cornwall with her mother – the butterfly box is the only part of her beloved father she is able to take with her to sustain her during painful times. Embraced by the eccentric Appleby family, she loses her heart to their son Sam, who barely notices the little girl until it is too late.
As she grows to womanhood, Federica attempts to recapture that long-forgotten sense of security in the arms of the debonair Torquil Jensen. From the sanctuary of a seemingly perfect marriage, she embarks on a painful journey of self-discovery. It takes Federica years of heartbreak to escape her gilded cage and learn the true lesson of the butterfly box.
Passionately written and deeply felt, The Butterfly Box is an epic saga of love, possession and metamorphosis.
I found it a disturbing, dreary and irritating book and I didn’t like the characters. Ramon was a selfish pig who barely saw his family and had constant extra marital affairs. His wife Helena was also self absorbed and annoyingly pathetic - wrapped up in her own misery. She quite understandably became disillusioned with the marriage and hanging around waiting for him to come home for brief interludes, so she said decided to return to her home in Cornwall - the narrator called Polperro ‘Polpairrro' which grated as did her attempt at a Cornish accent…
Before she returns to Cornwall the family go to visit her in laws where her husband sleeps with the maid who of course gets pregnant.
Helena feels guilty that she is taking her children away from their father and grandparents WHY? He’s never home, she rarely sees his parents and she hasn’t seen her own parents and family for six years - so that to me was just ridiculous and implausible.
I thought the book might improve when the story moved to Cornwall, but not so. 6 yr old Federica develops an infatuation with 15 yr old Sam son of the neighbouring Appleby family who saves her life when she falls through some ice. That part of the story is implausible too - the length of time between her falling through the ice and Sam’s arrival on the scene, prolonged by the author to add suspense, made it unrealistic. Frederica would have died of hypothermia before he could rescue her.
Ingrid, the Appleby mother takes in assorted sick animals - one of which is a skunk (!) - a skunk in Cornwall??? and what are described as flea ridden hedgehogs. By now I was well and truly offended as not all hedgehogs have fleas and anyway their fleas are host specific. So as well as feeling incredulous I was now distinctly irritated.
Hestor, Ingrid’s daughter skips out, Quote: ‘cradling a snuffling hedgehog in her arms. She announces, ’I think Prickles is better now, he can walk again. He’s drunk all his milk, but he’s still covered in fleas though. Grandad says you shouldn’t have bought him into the house. He says he’s been scratching ever since’.
That was when my grace bubble burst and I could not bear to listen any longer. Hedgehogs should absolutely NOT have milk, it gives them the trots and a little girl would not have been able to ‘cradle it in her arms’ as it would be curled in a defensive ball and when they do that the prickles really hurt even through thick gloves. I really find that kind of inaccuracy tiresome.
If I had the book I might have tried skimming it to find out how it unfolded, but I couldn’t listen to it dragging on. I read some reviews as some of them give spoilers and decided I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of it either and it spanned thirty years! Unbearably dreary. Not my type of book and I wouldn’t read anything else she wrote.