Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pg. 69: Rachael King's "The Sound of Butterflies"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Rachael King's The Sound of Butterflies.

About the book, from the publisher:
Amateur naturalist Thomas Edgar is offered the chance of a lifetime: to travel to the Amazon as part of a scientific exploration. Hoping to discover the mythical butterfly of which he has long dreamed — his Papilio sophia — he eagerly accepts. Yet when he returns, the optimistic young Edwardian gentleman is gone, replaced by a weak, nearly mute shadow of the man.

Unable to break through Thomas's silence, his beloved wife, Sophie, is forced to take drastic measures to discover what has happened. But as she gleans what she can from Thomas's diaries and boxes of exquisite butterflies, she learns as much about herself and their marriage as about the secrets he harbors.

Written in rich, sensuous prose and taking the reader from the demure gentility of turn-of-the-twentieth-century England to the lush, dangerous jungles of Brazil, The Sound of Butterflies is a breathtaking and compelling debut.
Among the praise for The Sound of Butterflies:

“[Rachael King's] mesmerizing combination of narrative, diary pages and letters reveals the true terror that Edgar experienced in the Amazon, where he witnessed one man's inhumanity to his own people... a captivating story."
--Washington Post

“Mordantly magnetic... Thomas's almost sacred quest for a particularly beautiful and elusive butterfly sets up an unforgettably bittersweet story, with its elliptical search for meaning in a world where one kills the thing one loves, and the victim is silent... King's jungle descriptions are masterful.... Her rippling prose builds to a wave of intrigue and danger."
--Book Page

“Compelling... the brutal world of an abusive Brazilian rubber baron and the secrets of exotic jungle love are steamy and sensuous. And timeless."
--USA Today

“In this debut novel about love, betrayal and devotion, King offers a vibrant portrayal of a jungle inner-world and the characters who roam within it… Sensuous descriptions and multidimensional characters carry the novel. Gross displays of wealth, intense bloodlust and the immense beauty and danger of the jungle enrapture, providing a sharp contrast to the tightly-corseted society of early 20th-century England. As Thomas’s quest for his perfect butterfly becomes a symbol for flawlessness that does not exist, both he and Sophie must learn to live with their imperfections and adopt a more real, honest love. As lush and captivating as the jungle in which it is set.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“There's plenty of life in their strained marriage, making this a noteworthy debut, and King a writer to watch.”
--Publishers Weekly

The Sound of Butterflies fuses Edwardian gentility with obsession, murder, and a glimpse of the giddy excess of the Brazilian rubber boom…. It's convincing, told in prose as opulent as one of Thomas's specimens.”
-- Observer, UK

“King's easy narrative moves back and forth from the stultifying social confines of early 20th-century England to the sultry and seductive world of the rainforest - with all the cruelty and corruption that it feeds. Rich and evocative, The Sound of Butterflies is an enjoyable debut.”
--Financial Times

King won a major prize in her native New Zealand for this debut and it's understandable as to why: there's a frayed love story, a chilling mystery and a sense of epic adventure as amateur naturalist Thomas Edgar leaves England in search of elusive butterflies and gets caught up in island rhythms sensual and dangerous. If a book gets me completely lost in its world, of course I have to tell people to read it."
--Sarah Weinman
Read an excerpt from The Sound of Butterflies, and learn more about the novel and its author at Rachael King's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Sound of Butterflies.

--Marshal Zeringue