Butterfly’s Child by Angela Davis-Gardner - 332 pages
When three-year-old Benji is plucked from the security of his home in Nagasaki to live with his American father, Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and stepmother, Kate, on their farm in Illinois, the family conceals Benji’s true identity as a child born from a liaison between an officer and a geisha, and instead tells everyone that he is an orphan.
Frank struggles to keep the farm going while coping with his guilt and longing for the deceased Butterfly. Deeply devout Kate is torn between her Christian principles and her resentment of raising another woman’s child. And Benji’s life as an outcast—neither fully American nor fully Japanese—forces him to forge an identity far from the life he has known.
When the truth about Benji surfaces, it will splinter this family’s fragile dynamic, sending repercussions spiraling through their close-knit rural community and sending Benji on the journey of a lifetime from Illinois to the Japanese settlements in Denver and San Francisco, then across the ocean to Nagasaki, where he will uncover the truth about his mother’s tragic death.
My Review: 4 stars
I love when an author takes a character from a previous play, movie or book and creates his/her own spin on what happens after we’ve learned about them. It opens up a lot of ‘what ifs’ for the author to explore. Davis-Gardner did this superbly when taking on the story of the illegitimate son of Butterfly, from the acclaimed opera, Madame Butterfly. I didn’t know the story of Madame Butterfly but it certainly didn’t hinder my judgement of this story. I’m now anxious to see this opera and have been listening to the music on YouTube. This is a beautiful work of fiction. The author’s writing style is tight, poetic and informative. With stories eventually being told from Japan as well as the states, there is much truth, pain, love and hurt mirroring each other in both the East and the West. This story ended beautifully with a not so wrapped up, yet satisfying picture of the characters and their situations.
Quotes I liked:
-“Books were not allowed, the doctor told Kate; reading agitated the mind.”
- “How can you say such a thing?”
“It’s easy. I think, then I open my mouth and speak.”
Tags: Historical Fiction, 2012, Japan
Labels: 2012, Historical Fiction, Japan