“Butterfly’s Child” by Angela Davis-Gardener A Butterfly Pick!

 

 

With fall here and winter just around the corner, it’s a great time to start looking at some “cabin reading” as I like to call it. Cabin reading is what I recommend for cabin fever. Especially for those of us who catch severe cases.

Cabin fever can strike at anytime of the year. It’s easy to feel trapped and isolated  when the weather makes going outside either too daunting or just plain impossible. We can either sit inside and let the “fever” overtake us, or we can grab a good book and allow our minds to escape the “cabin” that have our physical bodies trapped, if you will.

I know how hard it is to find a good book to read, so the Butterfly Bridge is going to help. Each month, we are going to announce our Butterfly Literary Pick  of the Month or our “Lit Pic”. These will be books that I believe will expand your cultural horizons and be good anecdotes to your cabin fever.

It rained just about all day a couple of days ago. Although it wasn’t cold, the cool rain made you just want to hunker down, grab a blanket, a cup of coffee and relax. And I did just that! I spent the entire day devouring a new book I came across entitled, Butterfly’s Child by Angela Davis Gardner.

The entire day was an unexpected treat. Normally my time reading is spent doing homework, tracking down stories about women’s issues, or staying abreast on current affairs. But this particular day I got to do some pleasure reading-and it was great!

Sometimes we have to do that, you know? Retreat from our everyday lives and the conditions of this world and allow ourselves a mental vacation. These are the best vacations! You can leave everything behind, and not even leave the house.

Butterfly’s Child allowed me to do just that. I came across the book quite accidentally if you want to know the truth. I was searching for a work by feminist Angela Davis and came across this book. When I read the summary, I had to read it.

Most of you have heard about the famous opera, Madame Butterfly. For those of you who have never actually seen it, you may have heard of it. It is a story about a Geisha, Butterfly and her Naval love, Lt. Pinkerton. At the end of the opera (spoiler alert!!) Butterfly commits suicide, devastated over the loss of Pinkerton’s love. She leaves behind a young child, Benji, whom Lt. Pinkerton and his new wife take back to America to raise as their own.

I saw a rendition of Madame Butterfly as a young girl. I remember thinking to myself, ‘what is going to happen to Benji?” In Butterfly’s Child, I find out!

Butterfly’s Child picks up where Madame Butterfly leaves off. It is the story of the life of those that Butterfly left behind, especially her child. So enchanting is this book, I read it in one day. Seriously!

What I love most about this book is the imagery. The author does an amazing job of describing the setting in such a way; you can visualize every nuance of each scene. From a small Geisha village in Nagasaki, Japan to a small country town in  Illinois, America-she takes you directly to each place and gives you the grand tour.

Davis Gardner also does a brilliant job creating depth among the characters. In Madame Butterfly, the characters emerge on the scene with very little background. Davis Gardner completes the story of Madame Butterfly by giving further dimension to each one.

The author notes clearly the transcultural issues a Japanese child in the 1890’s America would endure. Davis Gardner didn’t hold back on this topic either. The book also includes historical accounts that really make the story that more telling and believable. Women’s suffrage made a surprise appearance in this novel; all you Butterflies will get a kick out of this portion.

The book is both entertaining and enlightening. It brings to mind issues that were prevalent in the early1900’s, and are still around today. And unlike the tragedy of Madame Butterfly, Butterfly’s Child has a delicious ending! No spoiler…you’ve got to read it!

Book Synopsis:

Frank struggles to keep the farm going while coping with his guilt and longing for the deceased Butterfly. Deeply devout Kate is torn between her Christian principles and her resentment of raising another woman’s child. And Benji’s life as an outcast—neither fully American nor fully Japanese—forces him to forge an identity far from the life he has known.

When the truth about Benji surfaces, it will splinter this family’s fragile dynamic, sending repercussions spiraling through their close-knit rural community and sending Benji on the journey of a lifetime from Illinois to the Japanese settlements in Denver and San Francisco, then across the ocean to Nagasaki, where he will uncover the truth about his mother’s tragic death.

A sweeping portrait of a changing American landscape at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a Japanese culture irrevocably altered by foreign influence, Butterfly’s Child explores people in transition—from old worlds to new customs, heart’s desires to vivid realities—in an epic tale that plays out as both a conclusion to and an inspiration for one of the most famous love stories ever told.”

I totally recommend that you add this book to your library. If you are a lover of Madame Butterfly, this book will not disappoint you!

Until next time,

Love to you!

Steen

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