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The Butterflies of Grand Canyon
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The Butterflies of Grand Canyon

2.52 of 5 stars 2.52  ·  rating details  ·  126 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Set against the backdrop of the brooding and sensual canyon, a young woman's heart awakens and a decades-old mystery is solved.

When Jane Merkle arrives in the tiny town of Flagstaff, Arizona, with her much older husband on a summer day in 1951, she hasn't any idea that her life is about to change forever. After all, one of Jane's favorite sayings is "When in Rome, remembe
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Paperback, 340 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Plume (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Kathy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miz Lizzie
Another discovery from the 2010 Tucson Festival of Books, read just in time for the 2011 Festival. In 1951 Jane Merkle travels to Flagstaff, Arizona with her much older husband to spend the summer with her husband's sister and her husband. Jane becomes enamored of the Grand Canyon, butterflies, and a young park ranger. Deeply buried in a distant sub-plot, there is also a murder mystery that languidly unravels itself in a way that reveals connections and relationships among the characters but pro ...more
Dawn
An incident in 1938 at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is the underlying story that flows under the lives of several people living in the Grand Canyon National Park village in 1951. I had to keep a list of characters to keep the relationships straight. Once I did that the story moved along. It's a gentle story which is strange given it revolves around the skeleton of someone who might be a suicide or might have been murdered.

The plot seems weak, and the ending somewhat implausible, but it was an
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Bekah Porter-Sandy
The concept of the book definitely drew me in --- forbidden love and a decades-old unsolved murder. And Ms. Erhart's beautiful prose kept me reading.
But overall, this book was a disappointment.
For starters, there were far too many characters, most of whom had nothing to do with each other. Then, there were too many varying plots, again, all disjointed from the others.
It's a shame, because Ms. Erhart delivered some of the most beautiful literary passages I've read in a long, long time, but the pl
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Sacha
Loved it. Easy to read. More mystery, less murder. My one complaint was the ending, it wasn't sufficient for me.
Deb
Feb 16, 2010 Deb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
This was a very interesting book. Part historical travel journal about the Grand Canyon, part biology class (butterflies and bugs!), part murder mystery (quite engaging), all intertwined with a very kind study of the relationships among the characters in a small Southwest town.
The book is a quick read - I would recommend it. Just an fyi ... Not what I would consider HEA on the relationship side of the story (Happily Ever After-usually a requirement for me...); although everyone does seem to come
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FrumpBurger
I thought this was a pretty involving story, which included the beauty of the natural world, a murder mystery and extramarital love. Not a great, brilliant, amazing novel, but it kept my attention and I enjoyed it in the manner that it's sometimes impossible to enjoy great, brilliant, amazing novels. Simply put, I found it fun. And I thought the characters were, for the most part, pretty well-rounded and likable, although I did have some trouble keeping names straight.
Michelle BF
This didn't move as much as I would like in a mystery. And it was almost a gentle read that I could recommend to people who don't like the sex/violence/language but it does have an affair that while not explicit could get me some complaints. The setting in this book was a big part of it and the butterflies.

The Butterflies of Grand Canyon
Eileen
I was drawn to this book because of its locale, being from Arizona. And I started reading it while in Arizona. It was an interesting story, but way too many scientific butterfly names. It didn't really matter! The bits and pieces of information that were the basis of this story was more interesting than the story itself.

It had it's twists and turns, but nothing that was sensational. Was I asleep or were some pieces left unresolved?
Diane C.

Bekah Sandy-Porter nailed it:

"The concept of the book definitely drew me in --- forbidden love and a decades-old unsolved murder. And Ms. Erhart's beautiful prose kept me reading. But overall, this book was a disappointment."

There were nice insights about marriage, love and aging in this book, but it needed to be better edited or something.

I wanted it to be more absorbing. Finished it to find out the mystery conclusion.
Kathleen
This was sort of an interesting novel. Not my standard fare-a bit too focused on romance rather than twisty plots and violent death-but it was truly a delight to read while my family was visiting Grand Canyon Nat'l Park. Erhart's characters draw one into the novel, and it's for their sake that I finished it, having predicted the ending, but wanting to read their reactions to the way things had fallen out.
Debbie
A lovely story set at Grand Canyon in 1951. A young wife goes to visit her much older sister-in-law and her husband. Once there our heroine discovers the beauty of the canyon and its butterflies and a young ranger. Her husband sits back in St. Louis fixing steaks for his dog while his wife wonders about the intricacies of love. Not for people who like plot driven novels.
Kristin Runyon
I enjoyed this book, but the back cover described it as a mystery and the mystery storyline was secondary to the romance. The best part is the author's inspiration for the story; for example, a skeleton was found in a garage and the names of the main characters are the names of real people who collected butterflies for the Grand Canyon National Park (the events are fictional).
Jen
I couldn't keep the character straight in the beginning and still had some trouble with them by the end. The description of the canyon and the butterflies kept me interested, as well as the love affairs. I liked Jane Merkele's character but I was not so fond of the other women characters. I liked how the author used historical facts but this isn't explained until the end.
Jennifer Glass
Read this book because I'm going on a trip to the grand canyon in a few weeks. While the nature writing was stunning in a few places, the story was.....ZZZZZzzzzzz..... totally boring and the mystery unbelievable and poorly crafted. Some thoughtful reflections on the realities of romance, but other than that, not much to take away from this book.
Tessa
This was a surprisingly delightful book full of quirky and laughable characters with a murder mystery included. Being a butterfly gardener helped with envisioning the species of butterflies and plants mentioned, but is not necessary to enjoy this book. I really loved some of the conversational exchanges between some of the characters.
Laura Stone Johnson
Although I liked several parts of this book, not a single member of my Hyatt/Vi senior book group liked it. Half the members didn't finish it. They disliked the voice of the characters - felt they were cartoonish. They were confused by the large number of characters and they way they were presented.
Kimberly Taylor
I wanted very badly to enjoy this book, although I knew from the moment I read the back cover that I would have preferred it without the affair. The basic idea was good (mystery and science in an earlier age), but the writing style was not appealing to me nor were the characters believable/likable.
Cathy
I didn't think this was particularly well-written, although it had its moments. However, for a canyon-head like me, it was fun to recognize the historical people and events and the places used in the story. I read it while at Grand Canyon in April, and I saw butterflies! I had never noticed so many before.
Leon
Feb 25, 2012 Leon rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of strong female crime-solvers, naturalists, fans of the Grand Caynon, 1950s Southwest US
Set in 1950s Arizona, this book with its interesting and otherwise eclectic cast of small town characters, follows Jane, a nature-loving visitor to the Grand Canyon rediscovers her own boundaries while inadvertently becoming the centerpiece to solving a mysterious death of a local businessman.
Janice
There were moments when I was a bit confused in this book, maybe due to distractions on my part rather than author's lapses! It's a book about love and passion, but not in the usual sense. Slow paced, love of place in life, and some wonderfully written paragraphs. I'd recommend it.
Nancy
May 22, 2010 Nancy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
It promised a mystery about a skeleton--after nearly the whole book wandered around different characters and the affairs they were having with each other, it wrapped up the skeleton mystery at the end as almost an afterthought. Very disappointing.
Susanna
I finished this book but I can't really say why. Best word I can find to describe it is "Dippy". Don't bother reading it - weak plot, poor writing, frequently side trips into irrelevant content. I could go on but why bother?? Ugh.
Jo Marie
Not as good as I had hoped, but still interesting in parts. A very gentle story even though it has extramarital affairs, murder, and a psychopath! Some interesting characters especially the botanist who solves the mystery.
Barbara
Lepidopterists, adultery, and the Grand Canyon of 1951, with flashbacks to a mysterious death in 1938 make for an entertaining read with the park itself practically one of the characters.
Jen
Not bad for a mystery... though I often confused characters and story lines. At first I thought it was just me, bu now that I've read other reviews, I've seen the same confusions.
Cathy Vee
Very interesting historical fiction, but I will not seek out other titles by this author.
Stacey
Dreadfully dull (to use the character's fusty language). It was so boring and the characters were so lifeless I couldn't even get halfway through the book.
Elstirling
Interesting read about Grand Canyon and butterflies in an earlier era. Author did a nice job introducing countryside and lepidopterist.
Sara
As many of the other reviewers have stated, the premise is interesting, but the actual writing and plot are not well developed.
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