The Butterfly Cabinet

Bernie McGill. Free Press, $22.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4516-1159-5
Based loosely on a late-19th-century Irish murder case, McGill turns her gothic debut about the death of a young girl tied up alone in a room as punishment into an exquisite series of painful revelations. In the late 1960s, the pregnant Anna visits her old nurse, Maddie, who four decades before was a housemaid at the Castle at Oranmore. As Maddie reminisces, the viewpoint shifts between Maddie and her harsh employer, butterfly-collector Harriet Ormond, imprisoned in 1892 for the murder (accidental death, she claimed) of her four-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and later pregnant again with a daughter who would become Anna's mother. With the butterflies, pinned and displayed, serving as metaphor for the constricted lives of both Harriet's tightly disciplined children and Harriet herself, trapped in motherhood and frustrated by the unruly young Charlotte, McGill easily recreates the lives of the Castle's owners and servants and the intricate connections between them. As both Harriet and Maddie's stories emerge, the tale becomes a powder keg of domestic suspense that threatens to explode as long-kept secrets surrounding Charlotte's death are teased out. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4516-1161-8
Paperback - 375 pages - 978-0-7553-7070-2
Paperback - 249 pages - 978-1-4516-1160-1
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