The Butterfly Cabinet, written by Bernie McGill, is based upon a true story. Back in the late 19th century, the daughter of an aristocratic family, the Montagus, died suddenly and the mother was imprisoned for her death.
The Butterfly Cabinet retells the story through Harriet Ormond, the mistress of Oranmore, and Maddie McGlade, the housemaid. Sadly, Harriet’s daughter Charlotte dies in the wardrobe room after Harriet attempts to punish her. Harriet is accused of causing her death and is imprisoned. Both Harriet and Maddie discuss their version of what occurred and the secrets of their lives are revealed throughout the story. The reader also gains perspective as to why Harriet is who she is and why she treats her children as she does.
Although a sad story, I was glued to The Butterfly Cabinet. I enjoyed the way that the story switched back and forth from Harriet to Maddie. It allowed me to feel more connected to the characters. At first, I really disliked Harriet and obviously I could not understand her treatment of her children. I can certainly understand wishing to teach your children respect, but not through cruel punishment. I did understand, after reading the majority of the book, that she did in fact love her children. There was even a moment when I really connected with her and I imagine most mothers can relate. She states, “I will never, I thought, have them all bathed and dressed and down to breakfast by nine; I will never see that they have had their walk by luncheon; I will never manage to round them up again for tea at four; I will never have them ready for bed and their prayer said by six”.
About the Author:
Bernie McGill was born in 1967 in Northern Ireland as the youngest of ten children. She currently lives in Portstewart, Northern Ireland with her family. It was in Portstewart that the original event that inspired this story took place.
*Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of the review. The opinions expressed here are my own.