Title: The Butterfly Room
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
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…
The Butterfly Room is a sweeping novel full of interesting (and very different) characters and the grand setting of Admiral House in Suffolk. Two different timeframes are depitced – the 1950s, following Posy as a child growing up in Admiral House with her parents, and the present day, when the crumbling house becomes a financial burden on Posy, now almost 70 years old with her own family (and secrets).
I liked the continuity of having Posy in both storylines, and the way we see some of the same characters in both but also a whole host of new people in the present day story, as we meet Posy’s children, grandchildren and friends. There’s such a mix of people here, from those I really liked, to those who are truly awful (I won’t say here so as not to spoil anything). They felt like real characters, and although none of them are portrayed as perfect – many of them make dubious decisions at times, or have their own faults – that just makes them seem more real.
This is a fairly long book – well over 600 pages – but I didn’t feel like it dragged on, despite a lot of detail being included. There are some parts which felt a little unbeliavable, but I think you expect to suspend your disbelief a little bit when reading a novel like this, because you want to get swept away in all of its romance and secrets. There are some surprises along the way and its long legnth means the author can reveal a lot over the long timescale that’s included in this book.
Though I sometimes steer away from books in this genre as I feel they can lack the grit and realism I often enjoy, I realise this was pretty silly now because The Butterfly Room doesn’t feel lacking – it’s an enjoyable, fairly gentle read but it has some more shocking parts that make you sit up and take notice, and concludes with a nicely tied up ending that leaves the reader feeling satisfied.
I really enjoyed following Posy’s story, and that of her family, and would read more by this Lucinda Riley. It’s ideal for a bit of escapism and would make a lovely holiday read!
Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.