Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Grace Fitzgerald hopes to sign a contract with an American cruise corporation to bring cruise liners to the idyllic coastal town of Bayrush, in Ireland. Her fiancé, Dirk, doesn’t seem to grasp just how important the business is to her. On her way through Dublin Airport, Grace catches a glimpse of Jack Leslie, her first love. He’s married now but he still has the power to turn her knees to jelly. Grace is about to make the biggest decision of her life. Will it be the right one?
Jessie McGrath is happily married to Geoff, and together they run a small equestrian centre on the outskirts of Bayrush. Jessie is finally pregnant with her second child, and life couldn’t be better. But will their dreams come true or will they fall to pieces?
Sophia Wynthrope can’t escape the emptiness of widowhood. After thirty-five years of marriage New York holds too many memories of her treasured husband. Is she chasing foolish dreams by travelling to Ireland, or can she possibly find the peace she craves in a place called Bayrush?
An unexpected encounter will spark a chain of events that will entwine their lives for ever…
Butterfly Barn is the debut novel from new Irish author Karen Power. I am proud to support a local Waterford author who has taken the brave decision to self-publish in the era of Kindles and struggling paperback sales but I am pleased to say we have another promising addition to the already long list of successful Irish authors. The book focuses on three main characters Grace Fitzgerald, Sophia Wynthrope and Jessie McGrath as they all face times of hardships and emotional struggles.
Grace is engaged to Dirk but fears the commitment a long term relationship will involve, she wants to make her business recruiting cruise liners into Bayrush a success. On a flight to New York she gets upgraded to first class where she meets Sophia and before you know it they are chatting away like lifelong friends and Grace is divulging all her fears and of course hopes. This seemed very strange to me surely after just meeting a person for the very first time you are hardly like to start having deep and meaningful conversations like you had just reunited with a long lost family member or something. But it does establish a connection between the two women which lasts the course of the entire novel.
Sophia has a secret to hide and over time her story becomes clear, we also get to meet her son Richard and learn more about their family dynamic. It seemed as if I had read this aspect before as both Cathy Kelly and Emma Hannigan had recent books where a female visitor comes from America and helps transform the lives of the residents of a small town .Jessie is the last female main character she is trying for her much longed for second baby and when the scan reveals she is pregnant with twins, surely her life is complete and nothing will go wrong? Jessie was my favourite character I felt for what she was going through, we see her highs and lows, ups and downs and as we read through the story we see her turning point and how she struggles to overcome the most devastating loss of all.
Apart from the three main female characters there were loads of other characters who all had their own storyline and at times it was difficult to keep track of everyone and how they were connected and where their story was going. Kate (Grace’s sister) is recovering from a haunting past and wants to just move on with her future. Jack – the vet recently returned from Dubai has a link to Grace’s past. Numerous other people cropped up throughout the story some added to the overall plot and others could really have been left out. I felt it would have been better just to concentrate on the three main women as they each had such a lot happening with their lives. Within each chapter the story moved from person to person and place to place quite rapidly without much forewarning .Maybe a chapter dedicated to each character would have worked better and made it easier for the reader.
The characters were all really likeable; I just thought so much happened to them in such a short time period that they were so unfortunate for everything to go so wrong. But the book did highlight that in times of need your friends will always be there to support you. Grace, Jessie and Sophia slowly start to realise their own strengths and weakness and how to help each other simply by being there to listen or to assist in more practical ways and how in times of crisis the simple things like love can be the most healing and effective.
The book at just over 272 pages may appear short at first but with such small print the book in actual fact hits well beyond the 300 page mark. I did find the small print a bit of a nuisance as there was so much to take in on each page and if I looked up and glanced back again it was hard to find my place on the page. Print is normally never an issue for me but I do think it should have been bigger. This book was ambitious for a debut, there was just so much going on that certain storylines I felt were glossed over and did require more exploration. Yes the scenes detailing the loss of a pregnancy were extremely well written and conveyed the anguish, heartbreak, utter devastation and fallout very well but other storylines needed more detail. Only towards the end was dyspraxia mentioned and I would have loved to read more of this especially being a teacher.
Overall, this was a promising debut even if the author did stretch herself a bit too much, It is perfect for reading by the pool or in the garden for the summer months. As this is the first in a planned trilogy I look forward to seeing who we encounter from Bayrush in the future. Will it be the same characters or has Karen Power a whole new cast with equally emotional, adventure filled lives awaiting us?