The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evens
What magic is this?
You follow the hidden creek towards a long-forgotten house.
They call it Keepsake, a place full of wonder ... and danger. Locked inside the crumbling elegance of its walls lies the story of the Butterfly Summer, a story you've been waiting all your life to hear.
This house is Nina Parr's birthright. It holds the truth about her family - and a chance to put everything right at last.
Two things happen when you are a Parr girl: when you are ten, you are told about your future role.
The second thing that a Parr girl at some point must learn is harder to tell of.
It is a dark work indeed, the business of this house, hidden from the world.
This is a story of birthright, of inheritance and of family and how sometimes people can be destroyed because of what is expected of them.
Nina Parr's father was killed when she was very young. He died in the Amazon Jungle searching for rare butterflies. All he left her with is a life membership to the London library where Nina now spends most of her free time. One day a woman appears telling Nina that she's not who she thinks she is and leaves old photos for her. She also talks about a house called Keepsake and Nina's birthright.
We are taken back to Nina's childhood where her mother is finding life as a single parent so difficult until Mrs Poll shows up having rented the top floor apartment in the large house they live in. She is like Mary Poppins and Nina loves her.
There are multiple stories in this book. we learn of Theodora (Teddy) and her friend Matty. I thought this part of the book was the most interesting and the story of Teddy was such a sad one. Teddy was so brave but there was someone who always beat her back down again.
After the first few chapters we go back to an ancestor who lived in the time of Charles 11 which is where we discover Keepsake.
I became a bit lost and bored at this part of the book and put it down for about a week before going back to it but when I did it picked up and I couldn't stop reading it.
This book is completely different from any other by Harriet Evans. It is more complicated and a long read but worth it in the end. I think some of it could be cut back a bit to make it easier.
I liked Nina and Teddy and Nina's step dad. I couldn't understand Nina's mother and wanted to give her a good talking to, although there are lovely moments later on in the book between Nina and her mum.
I have said before that I love a good epilogue and this book did not disappoint me. I cried my eyes out while reading the end few pages, real tears dripping on my book. It was lovely but very sad.
So even although I found part of this book a bit hard going I'm recommending that you don't give up on as it is a really good read.
The Butterfly Summer kindle or paperback
You can download extracts from the book here