Review: “The Butterfly Summer” by Harriet Evans

Sometimes a revelation is all it takes to change your life for ever. Nina is relatively content in her mundane and monotonous life. Is it the life of her dreams? No. Does she have an uncomfortably close relationship with her ex-husband? Sure. But she’s chugging along regardless until a weird confrontation with a stranger in a library changes the course of her future. She learns more about the father she thought had died at six months old, her family inheritance and a dilapidated estate called Keepsake. And oh, how things change…


The story is told both through Nina’s experience and that of her grandmother, Theodora – also known as Teddy. At the beginning, the twining of Nina’s and Teddy’s stories together is somewhat confusing but becomes vitally important to the revelations later on in the novel. The experience of the novel is somewhat like following a garden maze – just when you think you know exactly where you are going, there’s another kink in the hedge, another twist to the story. I loved that – a story that keeps you on your toes is one that is very hard to put down.

Without giving the story away too much, I found it fascinating to look at a matrilineal inheritance line – the estate at Keepsake (and ALL that it entails) is passed down from mother to daughter, all females retaining the family name. So often in historical fiction, or fiction that has an historical basis, the story follows basic societal conventions at the time and it was exciting to see Evans flaunt these norms. It definitely gave the novel a fresh perspective, especially when in Teddy’s storyline.

Recommended read? Definitely. While the book has “summer” in the title,  I think that this book would be a perfect one to curl up on the couch with when the day is grey and you have an afternoon to while away. You’d find it too hard to peel yourself away and enjoy the sun when you’re near the end of the story!

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