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The Butterflies of Grand Canyon

2.54  ·  Rating details ·  162 Ratings  ·  48 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
Paperback, 340 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Plume (first published 2009)
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Mar 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A quirky book with touches of Shaw-like social commentary, doses of Natural history, bits of treatises on the nature of love and all wrapped up in a murder mystery and love story. I enjoyed the dventure of reading this book and found quite a few flashes of brilliance in er escriptions of the natural world and human character.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
Bekah Porter-Sandy
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
As an ecologist/entomologist who studies butterflies in the West, I was excited to read this book, which aspires to combine a murder mystery, a love story, and natural history. Those elements are all there, but the story is fragmented -- as though the author had assembled a pile of characters, places, and events, but didn't know how to put them together. The narrative was confusing, as were the backstories and motives of some of the characters. Butterflies? We learn nothing about them except a f ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-books
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.
Diane C.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it

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.
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
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?
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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.
May 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Kimberly Taylor
Sep 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
Kristin Runyon
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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).
Apr 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Jo Marie
Aug 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Two stars because I finished it but I got to the end and thought "huh?" I don't know if I missed a large part but there was no sleuthing, just a chapter at the end that explained the solution to the mystery. Apart from chasing butterflies, this book didn't do much.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not a page-turner for me but I did stick it out to the end.
Aug 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Very interesting historical fiction, but I will not seek out other titles by this author.
Beverly Morton
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Somewhat interesting because of the butterflies and the setting in Grand Canyon. Simple mystery, same with the relationship bits.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't finish this one. The book wasn't bad or anything, but it just didn't hold me.
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