Lady of the Butterflies
After Cromwell, 17th-century England has entered a time of enormous changes. Politics are driven by the intense demands of religion and commerce. In the great maritime city of Bristol, ruthless men of business are intent on draining the peat moors of Somersetshire and turning the land over to farming. The inhabitants should gain in health and comfort but are dead set against losing their way of life. Over many generations they have gained knowledge and expertise, using their environment to the greatest advantage.
Eleanor Goodricke, lady of the manor of Tickenham, loves her changeable, water-filled land of wide skies, streams and springs, causeways, bog and marsh, home to an extraordinary variety of wildlife; for Eleanor that means the beauty and mystery of butterflies, her lifelong obsession, identifying, naming and collecting. Her struggle to protect her moorland brings powerful enemies and, ironically, hostility and suspicion from her tenants: a woman who chases after butterflies must at best be insane, at worst a witch.
Adored by her malleable husband Edmund, tantalised by Richard Glanville, her beautiful prince of darkness whose temperament matches her own sensuality, she finds only James the London apothecary understands her restless spirit. When she seems to have lost everything he points out the path she must take, dangerous and difficult. Sadly her own kinsmen have proved to be her worst enemies.
A serious and impressively researched work of exciting historical fiction which gathers momentum after a slow-paced start up to a thrilling finale.