cover image Butterfly Sunday

Butterfly Sunday

David Hill. Delacorte Press, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31862-4

The weaknesses are glaring, but the strengths are undeniable and impressive in this auspicious sophomore effort from the author of Sacred Dust (1996). Despite writing that ranges from lush to florid and characters that sometimes fail to stay in character, this tale of Southern lust and betrayal offers some telling glimpses of serious talent. Set in rural Mississippi, Hill's tale snakes back and forth in flashbacks from 1997 to the present, revealing one truth here and hiding another one there. Heading the cast of troubled souls is Leona Clay, whose comfortable smalltown beginnings dissolve in a torrent of tragedy--father's death, mother's death, unwanted pregnancy, abandonment. Then, perhaps, she finds salvation through marriage to preacher Averill Sayres, who somehow survived an abusive childhood to become a minister. Beautiful Soames Churchill, Averill's benefactress and Leona's friend and patron, plays at being a grand Southern lady while tolerating husband Henri's philandering since it excuses her own. These intertwined stories revolve around the fate of Leona's newborn, stillborn or murdered child and the vengeance Leona seeks in the child's name. The suspense level suffers somewhat because frequent flashbacks disrupt the narrative flow and confuse the chronology of events. Nonetheless, Hill has created some powerful imagery, some memorable characters and an atmospheric setting that will captivate lovers of romantic suspense. (Nov.)