About the Book
Victoria Lake discovers that it’s not difficult for a person to vanish without a trace–even if that person is herself. Tory and her son Jack are estranged, but the mystery that swallows Tory also draws Jack in, and forces him to face, though unwillingly, the strange and unreliable gift that runs in their family.
Seattle-based opera singer/novelist Louise Marley knits together two related plot lines — a contemporary story about a therapist in deadly peril from a patient, and a domestic drama in the life of opera composer Giacomo Puccini — into a gripping novel about obsession and its consequences.
A compelling mystery and crime drama unfolds as Tory Lake tries to build a new life for herself as Paulette Chambers. Tory, a Vermont therapist, is desperate to protect her son from a client who has gone unhinged. She flees across the county after an accident in which it appeared she did not survive. Guided by her “fey,” a sense of intuition that she uses to help guide her life, she tries to begin anew in Oregon. Tory has a series of dreams about Donia, the housemaid of composer Puccini and his difficult, vindictive wife, Elvira, are interspersed within the action of her waking life. A glass butterfly heirloom appears in both narratives, adding a concrete connection between the parallels of the stories. Tory loves opera, and this thread weaves the pieces of the book and her life together. The pace of the novel continues to pick up as the strands of the story fall into place. After her initial trauma, Tory begins referring to herself as Ice Woman. As she interacts with the mix of quirky new characters in her life, she thaws and comes to terms with what it will take to rebuild her life. The author parses out details about Tory slowly throughout the book, creating a richer understanding of the character and her motivations. The tension ratchets up as her new and old life converge when both her son and vengeful patient discover her whereabouts. The writing is lovely in this engrossing read. Ages 17 to Adult.
Four Stars From Romantic Times:
Marley’s latest is a poetic blend of historical fiction and suspense. Readers are kept waiting anxiously in the dark for details behind Tory’s escape, which are revealed little by little throughout the novel. Marley also awards readers with a book-within-a-book bonus, and a glimpse into the life of the renowned opera composer Puccini. Beautifully written and intimate, the endless intrigue and mystery in this novel will keep readers on their toes and eager to reach the conclusion.
Genre Go Round Reviews:
This is a terrific suspense that blends a touch of the Fey with the life of Puccini inside of a taut contemporary thriller. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate the son and the villain searching for the therapist as all roads converge on Cannon Beach.
. . a slipstream offering that might stymie readers intent on easy categorization. . .a good thing, too, because the result is worth reading. Marley does an excellent job capturing the experience of starting a new life from scratch, and how human (and, memorably, canine) connections insist on forcing their way into the life of a woman who has, for a time, persuaded herself that she’s better off alone. It’s really a book about those connections, and how Tory can benefit by not making the key mistake of that servant girl whose life has been so strangely connected to hers. The tone is literary, the language rich, and the feelings wrapped up in Tory’s intense love of music–and her unresolved relationship with the estranged son she left behind. Plus, there’s that dog.
Nocturne Romance Reads:
Marley’s novel could easily be classified as a mystery; however such a limited perspective would minimize the intensity of the emotional elements. This is a story of developing self-awareness for Tory and her son, Jack. As Jack begins to accept the feeling of the fey within him, he commits himself to denying his mother’s death, persisting in trying to find her so he can repair their relationship. The supporting characters illustrate the meaning and depth of friendship and love.
Structurally, The Glass Butterfly is a superb example of writing. Marley excels at setting rich and colorful scenes. The characters are well-developed, enticing readers to connect and invest in each and every one of them. Although the pacing wanes a bit in the middle, readers will be unable to let go of their emotional ties, desirous of wanting to know the final outcome.
The genesis of The Glass Butterfly was a thought that came to me while I was shopping in an antiques store–in Cannon Beach, as it happens, where this novel is set. There were such fascinating things there, and I was intrigued by how many stories they represented. China, glassware, linens, old books and records–and photographs. Framed family photographs, which must once have represented a family’s history, and which now–through some twist of events I could only imagine–were offered for sale to strangers. It occurred to me that a person could reinvent her life completely with such things, invent an entire history for herself, and start anew. This is what Tory Lake does, and does successfully–except that she brought one item of her own real life with her on her journey, and that changes everything.
Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon, becomes Tory Lake’s cathedral, a place she retreats to for solace. She dreams of another place and another time, the source of the music she loves, like this exquisite aria from Turandot, “Nessun dorma”:
Giacomo Puccini had a very special home in Torre del Lago, on Lake Massaciuccoli, where he retreated to work and where a number of the great singers of the day–Enrico Caruso among them–came to rehearse with him. The villa was a renovated tower, known as Villa Puccini. Puccini and his friends filled the tiny village with glorious music, like this famous aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi, “O mio babbino caro”:
Villa Puccini is now a museum run by the granddaughter of the composer. Music plays as you tour the villa, seeing where Puccini composed, where the family took their meals, and how the little balcony on the second floor looks out over a garden Puccini himself designed.
Imagine the music that must have poured from this house! Perhaps even this lovely aria from La Boheme, “Mi chiamano Mimi”:
Tory dreams of two very different worlds, and neither one is her own: