Roy's Reviews > Butterfly's Child

Butterfly's Child by Angela Davis-Gardner
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's review
Apr 27, 2011

it was amazing

As an opera nut and a particular fan of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," I cannot separate my long immersion in the opera's plot from my enjoyment and appreciation of Davis-Gardner's imaginative take on what might have happened to Butterfly's son, Benji, after he was taken to America by his father. However, I think the novel works as a stand-alone story, as Davis-Gardner supplies enough of the opera's plot to fill in for those who don't know it.

I think anyone who has been uprooted from familiar surroundings, has been an outsider, has been teased for being different, has made bad choices in life or has sacrificed one's own happiness for children and family should respond to this story. Davis-Gardner has gotten into the minds of her characters and ably expressed each one's dreams and disappointments. They all have flaws but all invite empathy.

The plot moves apace, but is especially involving once Benji leaves the Illinois farm and heads for San Francisco to find a way to return to Japan. There are a number of surprises and twists and Davis-Gardner even works in appropriate and believable references to performances of the Puccini opera.

Davis-Gardner has meticulously researched the period and draws on her own experiences in Japan and her knowledge of the culture. The writing has a spare grace and beauty, with elegant phrasing and attention to detail.

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