18/06/2010

Lady Farquhar's Butterfly (by Beverley Eikli)

Looking through the shelves of available books to review on 'The Bookbag' site, I was struck by the cover of this novel. I tend to be a little wary of historical fiction - nothing, in my view, has yet even approached the skill and artistry of Georgette Heyer in the women's historical fiction genre - but the cover was appealing, the title intriguing. I'd never heard of Beverley Eikli, but am always happy to try a new author.

'Lady Farquhar's Butterfly' is the story of Olivia, recently widowed, deprived of her beloved toddler Julian, and afraid she will have to marry her sanctimonious and overbearing clergyman friend Nathaniel. Evidently there is some scandal in Olivia's past, and only marriage to an upright citizen can redeem her sufficiently that Julian's guardian Max will consider her a suitable mother.

As the novel opens, set in the early 19th century, Olivia has decided to throw herself on Max's mercy. However she does this by devious means, doesn't let him know who she is (why they have not previously met is not explained) and then vanishes after promising that she will stay a while.

The early chapters of the book are annoying in that we're given almost stream-of-consciousness thoughts from both Max and Olivia, without being shown why they feel or think in these ways. Olivia is particularly irritating in that she seems to change her mind about Max for no apparent reason every few minutes.

About half way through the book I started to enjoy it more. The plot, while unlikely, moves at a good pace and there's some excitement - and great melodrama -towards the end. I liked Max, as I was supposed to, and even warmed to Olivia.

It's nowhere near Georgette Heyer's standards, but perhaps it's unfair to expect it to be. As a light, and somewhat scandalous story, it's entertaining enough without explicit detail and with a satisfactory ending. Worth borrowing from the library, perhaps; but I wouldn't recommend buying the hardback which is the only edition currently available.

1 comment:

Beverley Eikli said...

Thanks so much for reviewing my book, Sue. I loved writing Lady Farquhar's Butterfly and drew a lot on personal experience, so the heroine's angst was straight from the heart. I'm fairly new to the romance writing scene - my first book was published a year ago - and it's always great to hear straight from readers what they think. Best wishes, Beverley Eikli