The Sound of Butterflies: A Novel

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9780061357640: The Sound of Butterflies: A Novel

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.

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About the Author:

Rachael King has worked in radio, television, magazines, and as a musician. She holds an M.A. in creative writing and has received many accolades in her native New Zealand, including the New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Novel at the New Zealand Book Awards for The Sound of Butterflies. Rachael lives in Wellington.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this rich debut from New Zealander King, amateur naturalist Thomas Edgar leaves his young wife, Sophie, behind, and sets off from turn-of-the-20th-century England for the Brazilian Amazon. His quarry is an elusive butterfly that he hopes to be the first to find and name for his wife—the Papilio sophia. Thomas returns to England many months later physically weak, obviously disturbed and unable to speak. Frustrated and concerned, Sophie desperately seeks the cause of his turmoil. Her search reveals a world of corruption and violence, spearheaded by the rubber tycoon, Mr. Santos, who bankrolled Thomas and his fellows. King employs Apocalypse Now levels of depravity to get across the greedy, exploitative nature of the rubber trade at the beginning of the 20th century; it's enough to make the protagonist mute, and it may have a similar effect on the squeamish reader. But the violent twists are more shocks to the system than to the plot, which founders when furthest from Thomas and Sophie. There's plenty of life in their strained marriage, though, making this a noteworthy debut, and King a writer to watch. (Oct.)
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