Butterfly by Julie O'Yang - a book review

I met Julie O' Yang, author of 'Butterfly' in Oct 2011. She had flown in from Netherlands to take part in the South Asian literature festival in London. I was pleasantly surprised by her unassuming and modest yet very confident attitude.

Julie has published fiction and articles in various publications worldwide. Apart from being an author Julie is also a visual artist and Butterfly has some of her own illustrations in it.

The book cover shows a vague woman's face underwater, a very artistic choice in keeping with the story.
Butterfly is a love story that spans life and death, magic and reality and parallel reality.

The author has woven mythology and history skilfully together to create a mysterious atmosphere in the story that keeps readers hooked till the end. 
The butterfly motto has been used repeatedly to create and reinforce the idea that like a butterfly changes its form and gets reborn time and again, so does love in-spite of all the odds against it be it war, Nanking Massacre, or the darkest secret.

“They say butterfly fish was made by Bodhisattva Guan Yin after she had a strange dream. Guan Yin looked at the star-studded body hauling a fantail so black like ink spilled in water. At that moment a butterfly floated past her. One thing other fish don’t do, though. A real butterfly fish can change into a beautiful woman at night.”

The love scenes are infused with Chinese myths and strong imagery that gives it a mystical tinge.
“I decided to love him. I decided I would accept him for everything he was. I learned to forgive and how to forgive. The world happens, we can choose how much it happens. At the end of the day no-one loses or wins. There is no future living in the past. For all I know, we could start finding peace and happiness between two human beings. To love, to be loved is the true gift of our heart. Love is not mediocre. Love is our freedom.”
“You were pregnant by a man-killer, didn’t that bother you?”

The book is littered with metaphors and beautiful imagery that spell binds its readers and gives them wings to take them along on an unpredictable, conflicting journey of a butterfly.

I found it hard to put it down until the very end although the end itself is a bit lacking in clarity may be done so  intentionally by the author to maintain the aura of mystery.
The book Butterfly all in all reads like a Bestseller and the readers will find it a page turner. A must read for all.

A book review by Smita Singh

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