Review The Butterfly Sister Amy Gail Hansen

July 24, 2017

the butterfly sister coverMy eyes are still glued to this book, rather, I left my eyes glued to the pages of this novel. I am reviewing The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen. I read the Italian edition titled “ Il libro delle verità nascoste”, translated by Stefano Beretta.   In reality, the Italian title has not to do with the one in English, that should be translated into “La Sorella della Farfalla”. However, the Italian title, that in English should have been translated into “The book of the hidden truths” is an excellent mystery to read on the beach. Released in 2013 in the US, this novel has immediately gained an international success. Just think, this is the debut novel of a freelance journalist who lives in Chicago. In 2012, the author sent the manuscript to one among the most important American literary agents.

The agent was immediately delighted by this reading and submitted the manuscript to several publishers. Harper Collins gained the rights to release the book and in 2013 the novel was released internationally in nearly twenty countries including Italy. In my country, the international translation rights were acquired by one the most influential Italian publishers, namely Garzanti. Well, now you discovered how this book was successful, it is the time to talk about it. The novel was inspired from an obsession, the one of the literature, that, developed in a well arranged and gripping plot, created endless suspense for any kinds of reader. The novel tells about the story of a former college student, Ruby Rousseau, who left the town of Tarble, the seat of a female college, to return to her home and forget her love affair with her English teacher Mark Suter.

In my view, this is the real character of the book, because it is the key of the mystery which surrounds just the college. It is the first suspected of the missing of another student, Beth, who, in turn, has also had a love affair with this teacher. Beth and Ruby have been good friends during the months they spent at the college. Beth missed abruptly while she was going to a learning course in another country. She took a plane, but she never went up aboard. The mystery starts when Ruby receives the suitcase of Beth to her home for a mistake. In this suitcase, there are clues to discover what happened to Beth, but there is also a book containing another key of the mystery , the book is the one by Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.

Virginia Wolf is a famous writer who committed suicide due to a severe kind of depression called bipolar disorder. Ruby is also a girl who suffers from depression, especially after English teacher Mark Suter closed the affair with her, but Mark is a very strange man, it is also the classic charming and very attractive deceiver. He is loved by his female students because he is married. Unfortunately Mark hides a heavy secret which it will be the real key to disclose this mystery.

Through a literary flashback, Ruby retraces her past at the college in Tarble and her finished relationship with Mark, up to discover why her classmates attempted to commit suicide like her. Is Mark the main reason of this chain of tempting suicides? Has been always Mark the reason for the missing of Beth? Through well written chapters, readers will be overwhelmed by a compelling plot and very deep thoughts focused on the most disquieting female topics, such as depression in writers. The novel attracts, captures and pushes readers to think about the hard world of writing, a world made of a fierce competition and many deceptions. Also the life of the characters is a long deception, where the past haunts the present and makes these girls insecure.

Ruby is an insecure and a maybe unbalanced girl, but when decides to return to the college along with the suitcase of Beth, she’ll find the courage to overcome her depression and discover the truth about her former teacher Mark Suter and the missing  of her classmate. Since the book has already been translated into Italian, I’ tell about my rating, only. This is a typical American best-seller which has the appreciable quality to start from a basis concept ( the obsession for literature) to create a plot. For this reason my rate is four stars. I would give five, but some chapters seemed to be slower in comparison to the final twist. The first chapter starts with the protagonist who exits the room of her psychologist, ruminating on depression and suicide of famous writers such as Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. Sure a good beginning, but I would that also the middle chapters were filled with suspense.


  • Jungle May 24, 2018 at 18:17

    ” I read the Italian edition titled “ Il libro delle verità nascoste”, translated by Stefano Beretta. In reality, the Italian title has not to do with the one in English, that should be translated into “La Sorella della Farfalla”.
    Nope. It should be translated “la sorella farfalla”, at best.

    • Rosalba Mancuso May 24, 2018 at 18:35

      Hi Jungle, yes, the right translation is the one you said. Unfortunately, in the translation field, it is not always possible the usage of a literal translation. Often, translators, in accordance with publishers, prefer using most impressive titles to attract readers. This is the hard law of book publishing! Anyway, thank you so much for reading the Italian edition of the book.

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