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Shooting Butterflies Paperback – 2 Feb 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (2 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747568103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747568100
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 616,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘A perceptive and delicately written study of human relations … painful, funny and fresh, which Cobbold has structured quite ingeniously’ -- Observer

‘Gripping and moving … a sharp observation of one woman’s emotional life’ -- The Times

‘This is a novel about outsiders and the dynamics of family relationships … absorbing’ -- Daily Mail

From the Publisher

Fans of Maggie O’Farrell and Sally Vickers will adore ‘Shooting Butterflies’ --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Grace Shield is a photographer and one who has had an interesting and successful working life, winning awards for her impressive photographic work; however, when at the peak of her career she turns her back on her past success, many wonder what has happened to Grace to make her disappear from public view. When Grace receives a painting through the post from her dead lover, followed by the appearance of an intrusive newspaper article focusing on her failure to fulfil her promise and, more worryingly, on her unsettled private life, she is forced into the position of examining her life for herself. And Grace's past does seem rather tragic: she loses both parents; she falls deeply in love but is let down; she marries a man who finds it difficult to cope with her forceful and independent nature; she suffers several heartbreaking incidents and when she is re-united with the love of her life, something intervenes to cause yet more tragedy. (No spoilers - we learn most of this early in the novel and, moving backwards and forwards in time, this story is, in part, about how Grace copes with the tragedies that befall her).

While Grace is confronting her past life, she decides to take action by setting out to discover the real identity of the artist of the picture she has received from her deceased lover - and, more importantly, of why (like Grace herself) the artist seems to have disappeared at the height of their creative powers. This leads Grace yet again back to her past life and into the realms of an old family friend, Noah Blackstaff, and his elderly grandmother, Louisa, the wife of a well-known artist, who spent her life in the shadow of an over-bearing husband who belittled her artistic talents.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm stunned there aren't at least a thousand five star reviews for any of Marika Cobbold's books. 'Frozen Music' took my breath away with it's freshness and idiosyncratic characters (the mother who, when widowed, stayed in bed and simply ate because now she could will remain one of my favourite supporting characters of a book for all time)and 'Shooting Butterflies' didn't disappoint.
I love the way Marika's female main characters are always so forthright, so un-daintily feminine and so much more than the usual drippy rom-commy females we generally see in women's contemporary fiction. They say what they think, think what they like and are never drawn in a syrupy-'love me do' fashion. These are real women, and as such I identified so well with Grace Shield, the heroine of this story. She had rubbish things happen to her but she got on with it. She seemed to have hardened corners but her character was the better drawn for it and more identifiable because of them. I found myself many times believing that I was actually Grace and this doesn't happen very often with books I read. Usually I am outside looking in; with Shooting Butterflies I 'got' everything Grace was going through.
If I ever write anything half as good as any of Marika's books then I shall die knowing I did well.
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Format: Paperback
Marika Cobbold is an extraordinary writer. The subtlety and authenticity of her observances are astounding. I loved her main characters and I found the structure of the book and the weaving of the main storylines to be really effective and ultimately moving. It is a sympathetic and realistic portrayal of the relationships between men and women and the way life and love happens. I found both Grace and Louisa to be very real characters. The dialogue was realistic and often witty and wry. I laughed out loud at this book and it also made me cry without being mawkish. To me it's most extraordinary quality was how it portrayed an authentic essence of how lives are lived. Brilliant.
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I've been staring at an empty screen now for half an hour, wondering how I could best put in words why I loved this book so much but I find it very hard. What did come to mind was, had Tolstoy been a woman born in Sweden his name would have been Marika Cobbold and he'd have written shooting butterflies.
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By A Customer on 22 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
Cobbold is an extraordinary writer. There were moments in this book when I felt as if she knew my thoughts. She's not only exceptionally perceptive about women, she understands men, and loves them with all their imperfections. Sharp intelligence, wit, compassion and a marvellous storyteller; a real treat. I can't wait for her next book
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By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 May 2013
Format: Paperback
'Shooting Butterflies' opens with Grace Shield, a successful photographer who has dramatically disappeared from the public view, receiving a package from her dead lover containing a wonderful painting, which she recognizes as being of the area where she lived as a teenager. Raw with grief after her lover's death, and furious at an offensive article about her life that her stepmother shows her, Grace determines to forget about her own worries by tracing the identity of the artist who painted the picture - someone who appears to have mysteriously vanished from the public eye, as she has. Grace moves to stay with her stepmother, and begins her search. It leads her to Noah Blackstaff, an old friend, who suggests that she talk to his grandmother Louisa. Louisa was the wife of a famous painter, and knew many people in the art world. Grace's search is interspersed with chapters narrated by Louisa, who tells of her life as a frustrated young wife, married to the preoccupied and chauvinist painter Arthur Blackstaff, and longing to paint herself, and with chapters narrating the story of Grace's life. Like a lot of Cobbold's heroines, Grace has not had an easy time of it. Born in America, she was tormented by her older brother (who did such charming things as threatening to burn her favourite toy dog), and when she was still quite small her unhappy mother killed herself by running her car into a tree. Her father returned to England and married the very ordinary and sweet-natured Evie, only to die while Grace was still at school. Grace went to America for a summer before going to university, fell in love with the charismatic Jefferson, who first accepted then rejected her, and returned to the UK pregnant.Read more ›
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