An unforgettable story of two women linked by their roles in a tragedy at the end of the Victorian era.
When Anna, the young woman she cared for as a child, announces her intention to visit the elderly Maddie, Maddie recognises her last chance to unburden herself of a story that has gnawed at her for sixty years. For Maddie, rather like the butterfly cabinet she keeps safely under lock and key, has for too long guarded a secret: that of the day a four-year-old girl died at the big house where she worked as a nanny. Finally, Maddie knows, Anna is ready to hear what happened. As Maddie's mind drifts back through the years, so too is revealed the story of Charlotte's mother, Harriet Ormond. A proud, uncompromising woman, Harriet's great passion is collecting butterflies and pinning them under glass; motherhood comes no easier to her than her role as mistress of her remote Irish estate. When her daughter dies, her community is quick to judge her, and Harriet will not stoop to defend herself. But her journals reveal a more complex truth.