In this debut novel about love, betrayal and devotion, King offers a vibrant portrayal of a jungle inner-world and the characters who roam within it.
It is the beginning of the 20th century and the rubber business is booming in Brazil. Rubber barons feed their horses champagne and send their clothes to Europe for laundering while they treat their workers like slaves and mercilessly kill objectors. Into this dangerous world of avarice and corruption steps Thomas Edgar, an idealistic young naturalist intent on discovering a rumored new species of butterfly. Five months later he returns to England, scarred and mute. His young and stoic wife, Sophie, determines to unravel the mystery of Thomas’s muteness and bring back the man she loves. King deftly moves between past and present, gradually revealing the truth through journal entries, letters and two narratives, relayed from Sophie’s point of view in England and Thomas’s in Brazil. Sensuous descriptions and multidimensional characters carry the novel. Gross displays of wealth, intense bloodlust and the immense beauty and danger of the jungle enrapture, providing a sharp contrast to the tightly-corseted society of early 20th-century England. As Thomas’s quest for his perfect butterfly becomes a symbol for flawlessness that does not exist, both he and Sophie must learn to live with their imperfections and adopt a more real, honest love.
As lush and captivating as the jungle in which it is set.