A superior piece of literary fiction, Of Moths and Butterflies reinforces why I am on a mission to read a million Kindle books. The unusual title and cover page reeled me in, and the author’s promotion allowed me to download this epic story. V.R. Christensen has delivered a masterpiece I will be revisiting for a long time to come.
It is 1881, and Imogen Everard is an orphan who finds herself an heiress in London. But disgusted by the memories of a troubled past and what her legacy stands for, she runs away from an over eager suitor. On a train steaming away from London, she is attracted to a large estate in the Kent countryside and decides to seek employment there. Imogen embarks on her self imposed penance as a humble housemaid Gina Shaw.
Sir Edmund Barry is a wicked character who has no love lost for anyone. He employs Imogen on a whim and a vague hope about her past. Archer Hamilton has been groomed to be Sir Barry’s heir, but he has always been kept on a tight leash. He falls in love with the poor maid at first sight. Wyndham is a disreputable relation of Sir Barry’s who is a wrong one. Young Charlie does odd jobs around the house but speaks like an educated child. Wicked machinations between Imogen’s relatives and Sir Edmund see her married and living in the Abbey, with no respect from anyone. Archer is caught between Sir Edmund’s manipulations and his cousin Claire’s insistence that he be more assertive for the sake of his wife.
As the reader gets more involved in the tale, new facts are revealed. There seems to be a reason for Sir Edmund’s behavior, and he is eager to see some lifelong plan come to fruition. The love between Imogen and Archer is tested too often, and each is trapped in their own past. Will they insist on solving past riddles, or take a leap into their own future?
Of Moths and Butterflies is a long book, but it does not become boring at any time. I did not feel the need to skim over a single word. The sketches interspersed in the book are an added bonus. Even though the time/ era it is set in has some bearing on the plot, I think this is a timeless tale that can be enjoyed for centuries to come.