Towards the end of last year, I headed to Crete with my mam – our first proper holiday in years due to lockdowns!
Of course, for such an occasion, I had to pack some great books that I would be devouring from a sun lounger. The first, My Legendary Girlfriend by Mike Gayle made me laugh and got me into true holiday reading mode.
The second, The Butterfly Room, absolutely captivated me and stayed with me long after I’d read the final chapter.
Despite the Grecian sun actually melting some of the writing from the book cover, I didn’t finish this gem until I got home because it is a TOME!
Before I pass it on to a friend, I thought I’d write a quick review so you can see if it’s for you too.
Who wrote it?
The wonderful Lucinda Riley.
How long is it?
A whopping 672 pages in my Pan paperback edition.
So, what happens?
We’re first introduced to Posy Montague as a child, enraptured by her father’s tales of fairies and fantasy in the beautiful garden of their magnificent home, Admiral House.
A jump in time, and Posy is approaching seventy and becoming concerned that she’ll soon have to sell her ancestral home. As she struggles with her decision, we get to know Posy’s two sons and understand a little more about their stories too. Add an old flame called Freddie into the mix and we have a book that weaves together the lives of a whole cast of characters, keeping you intrigued until the very end.
What are my thoughts?
I have to say, I do love a bit of historical fiction. Kate Morton is one of my favourite writers as I think she does this brilliantly. Lucinda Riley may just be a close second.
With the story told between two time frames – 2006 and flashbacks to the 1940s – I was able to slowly piece together Posy’s life as well as those around her. At first, I did find the exposition a little off-putting as characters explained things to each other that you would assume would be obvious if they’ve known each other a long time – it felt very forced and made the dialogue seem quite unnatural.
However, once the story began to gather pace, I was heavily invested in each character and what their outcome would be by the end. As the plot is full of secrets, this is a book that truly keeps you guessing, especially when it comes to the mystery surrounding Posy’s father.
In my opinion, the 1940s scenes were so strong that they sometimes made the more modern chapters less captivating. Riley manages to conjure up such a sense of place and atmosphere that I felt I was really stepping into a 1940s party, rather than lying on a Cretan sun lounger. They were full of life and young Posy is so charismatic that she just jumps off the page.
Having said that, I did zip through nearly 700 pages within a couple of weeks because I was equally concerned for the characters in 2006. I haven’t read an historical novel in a while and it was amazing to jump right back into it. In fact, I was on Goodreads the next day, looking for more Lucinda Riley books to read.