This carefully, beautifully crafted novel takes the reader on a journey toward love, acceptance, enlightenment, insight, and trust. It really is written in the style of a Victorian novel (It brings to mind several authors) and it takes place in Victorian times. The book is filled with riveting characters, and each one is lovingly fleshed-out, so that the reader grows intimately attached to all (except Sir Edmund and Wyndham, the dark side of the mirror, so to speak), and learns to understand what emotions, life events, and histories are prompting their actions (and in some cases, inactions). While I liked and rooted for Imogen, I was perhaps most drawn to Archer. He is a complex hero in every sense. Young Charlie, too, was a well-drawn child who tugs at, and captures, the heart.
Imogen suffers an attack. This event affects her so profoundly that she runs away from home and what’s left of her family and pretends to be a servant. Her rashly-made choice will change her life, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for worse. Due to the act of running away, she is exposed to Archer, who also has mysteries and pain in his own past, and who is very much drawn to this captivating young woman he believes to be a low-born servant. Yet, subconsciously, he can tell that is not the case. She is also exposed to Sir Edmund, Archer’s uncle, one of the most despicable, unlikeable, cruel fictional characters I have ever had the misfortune and the pleasure of meeting in the pages of a book. Another of my favorites was the wise and inestimable Mrs. Montegue, who throws in her two cents at the most opportune moments, and it would be an error to not mention the tragic, heartbreaking Bess, (Charlie’s mother) who literally brought tears to my eyes; and the crotchety yet loyal Mrs. Hartup. Of the many twists and turns in the human relationships, one that was absolutely delightful, scintillating in every way, was the budding relationship between Clair and Roger. I loved it!
There is growth in this story, setbacks, danger, abuse, triumph and tragedy. There is everything a lover of historical fiction and romance could want. The dialogue is done so skillfully that one almost feels the characters are in the room conversing. I especially loved how masterfully the author wrote anger, confrontation, and arguments. Sexual-romantic tension runs underneath the misunderstandings and miscommunication. Archer and Imogen are obviously very much attracted to each other. Yet, time after time, something comes between them, preventing them from exploring these deeper feelings.
Of Moths and Butterflies is no light, fast, simple, romp. This is a book to sink one’s teeth into, and to curl up with on a long winter’s afternoon. It hearkens back (for me) to the books I read years ago: meaty novels that took their time and told a magnificent story. I wish more books would be written this way.
Highly recommended for those who love big, complex historical fiction novels with a strong romantic element. Clicking on the cover image will take you to its Amazon page.