Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Butterfly Sister: A Novel by Amy Gail Hansen


"My past was never more than one thought, one breath, one heartbeat away. And then, on that particular October evening, it literally arrived at my doorstep."

Summary: Eight months after dropping out of Tarble, an all-women's college, Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year-a year marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that not only caused her to question her own sanity but prompted a failed suicide attempt. And then a mysterious paisley print suitcase arrives, bearing Ruby's name and address on the tag. When Ruby tries to return the luggage to its rightful owner, Beth Richards, her dorm mate at Tarble, she learns that Beth disappeared two days earlier, and the suitcase is the only tangible evidence as to her whereabouts. Consumed by the mystery of the missing girl and the contents of the luggage-a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, the book on which Ruby based her senior thesis, and which she believes instigated her madness-she sets out to uncover the truth, not only about Beth Richards's past but also her own.

My thoughts: The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen seemed intriguing from the summary, but it was kind of a let down. Ruby's character was too contrived, weak and it was hard to relate to her or the ridiculously overdone problems in her life. There wasn't enough characterization, the characters might as well have "Good!" and "Bad!" stamped on their foreheads. I wondered as I read the book, if any one could actually live such a cliche? Experience suggests, of course, that people are capable of being mindbogglingly naive, but the question remains: do I want to read about these people? 

I don't write much about books I don't particularly like. I could label it a chic-lit and be done with it. But The Butterfly Sister did have its goods, starting with that gorgeous cover. The literary references (Plath, Woolf, Sexton and other depressed, suicidal female writers and what made them so. Is the room of A Room of One's Own a metaphor for the mind or an actual room?) and the eerily gothic feel of the first half of the book kept me somewhat hooked. Even the most convoluted plot turns were well written and what the book lacked in plot execution, it made up for in the apt language.

You'll find many better reviews on Goodreads, ones that might convince to you to give this debut a try, after all. It was just not the book for me.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.

3 comments:

harish p i said...

It was the cover of this book that interested me when I came to this post. Anyway I will give it a miss.

aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar said...

Nice one

Priya said...

Harish - I know, the cover made me expect a lot more from the book.

aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar - I can't imagine why, but thanks, anyway.

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