Butterfly's Child: Book summary and reviews of Butterfly's Child by Angela Davis-Gardner

Butterfly's Child

A Novel

By Angela Davis-Gardner

Butterfly's Child
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2011,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

When three-year-old Benji is plucked from the security of his home in Nagasaki to live with his American father, Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and stepmother, Kate, on their farm in Illinois, the family conceals Benji's true identity as a child born from a liaison between an officer and a geisha, and instead tells everyone that he is an orphan.

Frank struggles to keep the farm going while coping with his guilt and longing for the deceased Butterfly. Deeply devout Kate is torn between her Christian principles and her resentment of raising another woman's child. And Benji's life as an outcast—neither fully American nor fully Japanese—forces him to forge an identity far from the life he has known.

When the truth about Benji surfaces, it will splinter this family's fragile dynamic, sending repercussions spiraling through their close-knit rural community and sending Benji on the journey of a lifetime from Illinois to the Japanese settlements in Denver and San Francisco, then across the ocean to Nagasaki, where he will uncover the truth about his mother's tragic death.

A sweeping portrait of a changing American landscape at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a Japanese culture irrevocably altered by foreign influence, Butterfly’s Child explores people in transition—from old worlds to new customs, heart’s desires to vivid realities—in an epic tale that plays out as both a conclusion to and an inspiration for one of the most famous love stories ever told.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Immediately engaging...Though some of the tension drains from the plot in the book's middle, Davis-Gardner reaps most of the dramatic benefits of Puccini's plot while simultaneously creating an unrushed meditation on character." - Publishers Weekly

"Very appealing, and not just for fans of Davis-Gardner's previous work or fans of Japanese American fiction, this is the type of novel many readers will want to finish in one sitting." - Library Journal

"Who ever thought the story was over? There was, after all, a child...Expansively imagined, carefully researched, and beautifully told, this is the perfect book for anyone who has ever longed to know what came next after that famous unhappily-ever-after ending." - Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

"Secrets unfold like a Japanese fan in Butterfly's Child. With jewel-like prose, Angela Davis-Gardner has created an enchantment—a novel so beautiful, mysterious, and compelling that I had to stay up into the wee hours to finish it in one sitting." - Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

"Brilliant and inspired . . . Butterfly's Child reveals, in ways both devastating and surprising, how the human heart and the world we live in are rarely as they appear. Once you enter Benji's world and begin his journey, there is no turning back and no slowing down." - Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes

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