Butterfly's Child by Angela Davis-Gardner

85%

19 Critic Reviews

In its way, it holds its own alongside the modern Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. For all its melancholy and madness, it strikes themes of hope and renewal, and believing in the unbelievable.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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. When the truth surfaces, it will splinter this family’s fragile dynamic and send 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.

Don’t miss the exclusive conversation between Angela Davis-Gardner and Jennifer Egan at the back of the book.

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About Angela Davis-Gardner

See more books from this Author
Angela Davis-Gardner spent a year in Japan as a visiting professor at Tokyo's Tsuda College, which inspired her acclaimed novel Plum Wine. She is also the author of Felice and Forms of Shelter. An Alumni Distinguished Professor Emerita at North Carolina State University, she lives in Raleigh.
 
Published March 8, 2011 by The Dial Press. 353 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Science & Math. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Butterfly's Child
All: 19 | Positive: 19 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jan 15 2012

In its way, it holds its own alongside the modern Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. For all its melancholy and madness, it strikes themes of hope and renewal, and believing in the unbelievable.

Read Full Review of Butterfly's Child | See more reviews from Kirkus

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Eugenia Zukerman on May 27 2012

Benji’s voyage continues, but to give away any of the astonishing plot twists and revelations would deny the reader the thrill of a totally transforming and satisfying finale.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by Judith Chettle on Jun 04 2012

Vivid details about Japanese life and the opera's history enrich this thoughtfully rendered story about love, betrayal and eventual reconciliation.

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Asian Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Peg Fong on Aug 07 2011

The dramatic conclusion of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly opera is the opening scene of Angela Davis-Gardner's novel Butterfly's Child, a beautifully rendered continuation of the ill-fated, cross-cultural love story.

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Star News Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Ben Steelman on Mar 26 2012

Raleigh author Angela Davis-Gardner offers one possible version in “Butterfly's Child,” a novel nearly as lyrical and operatic as the original.

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She Knows

Good
Reviewed by Vera Pereskokova on Apr 11 2012

If you're familiar with Madame Butterfly, the opera, or the short story by John Luther Long that inspired it, you'll savor Butterfly’s Child — a continuation to this dramatic story.

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Peeking Between the Pages

Good
Reviewed by Darlene on Apr 30 2012

I was so captivated by Benji’s story that I lost track of time and just lost myself in the telling of this tale.

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Nomad Reader

Good
Reviewed by nomadreader on Apr 17 2012

Butterfly's Child is structured like its own opera, and the interlude is purely majestic. Act three is a show-stopper.

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Bookfoolery and Babble

Good
Reviewed by Bookfool on Apr 25 2012

Butterfly's Child is a wildly original continuation of the original story that delves into the harsh realities of prejudice against a child of mixed parentage and eventually leads to a satisfying quest of identity.

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Broken Teepee

Good
Reviewed by Broken Teepee on Apr 10 2012

It was overall a fascinating look at small town America and its attitude towards Japan at the end of the 19th century. Not to mention the city vs. farm social structures and attitudes

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BookNAround

Good
Reviewed by Kristen on Apr 11 2012

A thoughtful and appealing tale that not only takes inspiration from the opera but also cleverly incorporates it into the tale itself, this search for self was a delight to read

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Good Book Fairy

Good
Reviewed by Book Fairy on Apr 24 2012

Davis-Gardner did this superbly when taking on the story of the illegitimate son of Butterfly, from the acclaimed opera, Madame Butterfly.

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Dolce Bellezza

Good
Reviewed by Bellezza on Apr 04 2012

It is a brilliantly told story which stirs great emotion within my heart. I loved it.

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My Bookshelf

Good
Reviewed by Shirley on Apr 25 2012

Butterfly's Child is well-written and is suitable for a mature audience. It is a novel of love, lust, desire, hope, tragedy, strength, and sorrow.

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Col Reads

Good
Reviewed by Col on Apr 02 2012

I love novels with multicultural themes, and this one does a great job of dealing with race from many perspectives, without much sentimentality or anachronism.

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Lit Chick

Good
Reviewed by Lit Chick on Apr 12 2012

Butterfly's Child defies easy categorization but is a wonderfully rich continuation of a celebrated classic, with a twist.

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Lit Endeavors

Good
Reviewed by Lit Endeavors on May 11 2012

Angela Davis-Gardner re-imagines the tragedy of Madame Butterfly in this stunning epic that takes the reader from an Illinois farm, to Denver, San Francisco, back to Nagasaki, and the mysterious world of the geisha.

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A Liberal's Libretto

Good
Reviewed by Liberal Libretto on Apr 24 2012

If you are looking for superb page-turner to take with you to the park this spring, you must pick up Butterfly's Child: A Novel- Trust me, Friends: you'll be so very glad you did.

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After Psychotherapy

Good
Reviewed by Joseph Burgo on Apr 10 2012

It’s a revisiting and revision of the original story, correcting for Puccini’s misconceptions about Japan and Geisha culture. It’s a study of rural life and racial prejudice in early 20th century America.

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