Santa Montefiore's involving and dramatic novel The Butterfly Box
opens in Vina del Mar, Chile, in the sweltering summer of 1982. Frederica is six years old and adores her father Ramon. He is a charismatic, good-looking adventurer who is due home after a long sojourn abroad. Frederica struggles to contain her excitement. Her mother, Helena, travelled with the glamorous Ramon Campione in the heady early days of their relationship; Ramon, a writer and photographer, travels the world and has sacrificed his family for his work. Over the years of growing disillusionment with their relationship, Helena endures his long absences waiting with the children in Chile. On his return, Ramon brings Frederica a gift: a magical box containing coruscating crystals in the form of a beautiful butterfly. According to legend, the butterfly once belonged to an Inca princess. Helena abandons her husband and returns to Cornwall with the children, and the Butterfly Box is now Frederica's sole connection with her past and her father. In Cornwall, Frederica grows up and falls in love with Sam Appleby and, later, the saturnine and charming Torquil Jensen. The lacerating relationship that follows forces her into a punishing voyage of self-discovery during which she learns the true lesson of the Butterfly Box.
Her first novel Meet Me Under the Ombu Tree established Santa Montefiore as a writer of elegance and craftsmanship working within the popular form of the romantic novel. So many novels in the genre are written in leaden-footed prose that it's a genuine revelation to find a writer as gifted as this. The Butterfly Box is couched in language that is always affecting, always truthful--even when saga conventions kick in. Few tales of love and loss exert such an emotional pull as this one. --Barry Forshaw
Thoroughly readable . . . with old-fashioned romance (Evening Standard
Refreshing . . . imagination, charm and delicacy. Santa is the new Rosamunde Pilcher. Delightfully written. (Daily Mail
[An] escapist, passionate romance (Dorset Evening Echo
This is a good, old-fashioned saga with all the classic ingredients. Federica has genuine pathos and charm, and those qualities permeate the whole book . . . engaging and charming. (Penny Vincenzi, Mail on Sunday