by Fiona Mountain
Paperback Release Date: July 5, 2011
They say I'm mad and perhaps it's true.
It is well known that lust brings madness and desperation and ruin. But upon my oath, I never meant any harm. All I wanted was to be happy, to love and to be loved in return, and for my life to count for something.
That is not madness, is it?
So begins the story of Eleanor Glanville, the beautiful daughter of a seventeenth-century Puritan nobleman whose unconventional passions scandalized society. Still known as one of the great natural scientists of her age, Eleanor was a woman ahead of her time. But her life was marked by two reckless preoccupations: a fascination with science - especially the study of butterflies - and a tempestuous love affair with the dashing soldier Richard Glanville that nearly cost her everything she held dear.
In Lady of the Butterflies, author Fiona Mountain tackles the life of the spirited and tenacious Eleanor Glanville. Known today as one of the pioneer entomologists of the 17th century, Eleanor was an anomaly among the women of her day and her personal life was no less captivating.
Raised by her staunch Puritan father after the death of her mother and sister, Eleanor’s childhood was sheltered and lonely. For a child whose very soul craved fresh air, freedom and nature, she found it difficult to adhere to the restrictions of her father’s religion. Though education was for boys, Eleanor’s father encouraged her studies in nature, especially her love of butterflies, as to him they were a sign from God of hope and eternal life. Not everyone appreciated Eleanor’s inquisitive nature, though and townspeople were sure she was a little touched in the head. After all, this was the 17th century and superstition rampant in small towns, with many still believing that butterflies are souls of the undead and to study them is akin to witchcraft.
Through love, passion, heartache and diversity, readers follow Eleanor through her life as a mother, wife, lover and scientist. At the soul of the novel, is Eleanor’s passionate love affair with the devastatingly charming Richard Glanville. With all its beautiful complexities and layers, I was entranced by the intensity of their relationship.
A mix of historical fact and the author’s imagination, Lady of the Butterflies is an elegantly written novel that kept me up til all hours of the night and had me utterly gripped from page one. I have since added her other books to my wishlist and will be recommending this novel to everyone I know! Never again will I look at butterflies without thinking of the extraordinary Eleanor Glanville.