Originally published in 1988, Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey (the pseudonym of Barbara Wood) is a riveting tale of sensuality and revenge. This hefty novel is the first in a trilogy, in modern times following Trudie, Jessica, and Linda, who are each members of a secretive club called Butterfly, where women can act out any sexual fantasy they desire…for a fee. The rest of the novel focuses on thirty years before and leading up to the present, detailing the tragic past of the woman who came from nothing and built an empire, all for the sake of revenge.
Although the book’s cover may present this as another erotic tale, Butterfly is much more complex than it seems at first glance. I became engrossed in the coming-of-age of Rachel Dwyer, a runaway teenager who is forced into prostitution, and her vendetta against Danny Mackay, the boy she loved who began his ascent to greatness by stripping her of everything.
I won’t say more than I already have about the plot and the central characters, because half of the fun of reading this book was not knowing much to begin with. The book also raises some interesting discussion prompts regarding prostitution, feminine sexuality, and power. As a society, we agree that paying for sex is wrong. Rachel’s forced submission to the desires of men was disgusting, yet I seemed to accept the reasons why Trudie, Jessica, and Linda joined Butterfly. Belonging to Butterfly wasn’t about having power over another individual, but finding love, strength, and healing, respectively.
The main events of Butterfly come full circle by the end of the novel, but there are still questions left unanswered about Rachel’s past that I hope are touched upon in the novels. It’s taking lots of willpower not to read the synopses of the next two books, but I want to be just as surprised with those as I was with Butterfly. I haven’t been able to stop recommending this book to my reader friends; this wasn’t my normal type of read, but I’m so glad I read it.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Turner Publishing Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.