Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review: The Butterfly Sister

The Butterfly Sister: A NovelAuthor: Amy Gail Hansen
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow

"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."

Eight months after dropping out of Tarble, an all-women's college, twenty-two-year-old 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. In doing so, Ruby is forced to reexamine the people from her past: the professor who whisked her away to New Orleans and then shattered her heart and the ghosts of dead women writers who beckoned her to join their illustrious group. And when Ruby's storyline converges with Beth's in a way she never imagined, she returns to the one place she swore she never would: her alma mater.

Gwen could not have been more explicit at our first session: I was to cease reading books by or about women who killed themselves.

Like other women writers before me, I had simply gone mad.

Could I afford to leave the madwoman in the attic lurking on my bookshelf?

But it was all in vain – the books, the antidepressants, the therapy sessions with Gwen. Even time’s wound-healing properties proved ineffective. Ten months later, 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.

Amy Gail Hansen and her leading character, Ruby Rousseau, spin in a tale that hooks you after the first sentence and doesn’t let loose until you have turned the last page. This is a twisted, dark tale of a girl and an old college acquaintance of her hers that goes missing. Ruby had an awful experience at Tarble, the women’s college that she attended all the way up until her senior year. Ruby had a horrifying experience there and is now suffering the depression and aftermath of it; a broken affair with one of her college professors and a failed suicide attempt left her crushed and irreparable. When Ruby learns a secret about Beth’s past, the missing girl, she feels compelled to investigate what could have happened to her, and in turn ends up playing Nancy Drew in a story that is sure to have you on the edge of your seat!

I was fascinated by Ruby Rousseau. I’m was an English major just like her, and I became completely enraptured by her words, especially when she started talking about Virginia Wolfe, Anne Sexton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Sylvia Plath. Ruby had some strange tendencies and her obsession with death does not go unnoticed. However, all of these odd or strange characteristics are what make her so completely interesting. Ruby is an incredibly intelligent character, and being able to get a perspective on her present as well as her past affair with Mark Suter only sweetens the deal. The story of what happened to Ruby plays out slowly, and readers have to stay invested to get all the juicy details!

The writing style is exquisite and I honestly feel that Amy Hansen is going to be an author that I always watch for! I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. From the first line I was so mesmerized by Ruby and all the other characters in this book. Hansen does an excellent job of not giving too much away, but giving just enough to keep readers invested and ready to read for the long haul. I kept hoping that with each coming chapter I would find out a little more about Ruby’s affair and why she dropped out of college, or why Beth Richards had gone missing. Hansen delivers, and when she does it comes with a big BANG!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at William Morrow in exchange for my honest review***


No comments:

Post a Comment