Patty's Reviews > The Butterfly Cabinet

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie Mcgill
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's review
Aug 09, 2011

it was amazing

What a haunting tale. This sad story is told in two voices; that of a nanny who used to work in the household and through the diaries of the mother of a child who died at the hands of her punishment. Harriet, the mother, is a woman who really never should have never had children and is married to man who is half a child himself. A product of their times, their status and their religion Harriet has a baby just about every year. She is shocked both that she enjoys what goes into creating the children and at their behavior. She wants them to be perfect. After a string of boys she has Charlotte who is completely contrary and does not behave as they boys have done.

The tale alternates between nanny Maddie's explanation in current times and the prison diaries that Harriet wrote after being convicted of causing Charlotte's death. Nanny Maddie is a soft and cuddly character and Harriet is cold and unforgiving. And yet Ms. McGill allows through her writing - even though I really didn't want it to happen - for a certain sympathy to arise for Harriet. I truly wanted to hate her but I couldn't. She had miserable parents and a husband who did nothing to help. He was afraid of her. She left me very conflicted. She was basically a serial child abuser! The writing is exceptional, the characters are fascinating. It's a book I will keep to read again. They are few and far between for me with all of the books that I read.

The Butterfly Cabinet is not a happy story but I find myself thinking about it even now - a week after I finished reading it. The characters stay with you. The ending is a perfect weaving together of past and present.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 2, 2011 – Finished Reading
August 9, 2011 – Shelved

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