Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Written by Maureen Lang
Review by Marie Burton

The title of Bees in the Butterfly Garden gives a fresh, inviting, outdoorsy feel, especially with the girl on the cover lovingly smelling the flowers. However, there are not many contented characters in this book, including the two protagonists, Meg and Ian. When Meg learns her deceased father was an expert thief, Meg’s upper-crust world at Madame Marisse’s boarding school falls apart. Once Meg meets her father’s protégé, they develop an attraction for each other which they would never admit. When Ian has to prove his status as the next boss of his crime ring, Meg offers a golden opportunity to help Ian achieve his goals. With guilt plaguing their actions, Meg and Ian set out to emulate her father’s ways as they plot to steal the infamous Pemberton gold bricks from Meg’s friends on Fifth Avenue. With a few interesting characters and New York City setting, the entire story surrounds this deed of theft which Meg feels she absolutely must accomplish, against her father’s friends’ wishes.

Ignoring the values and the etiquette that her father had provided for her, Meg is intent on a life of crime. Without a commendable reason to choose this path, her actions do not make her a likable character. We can allow the same transgressions for Ian, as this was always his way of life during the Gilded Age, but Meg does not give any valid reason to even leave her school or her teaching position behind. The subject matter of ignoring the law and wholeheartedly scheming to defraud your friends leaves a sour taste, especially since the plot surrounding this event tends to drag. But if the reader can get past Meg’s unhealthy desire for vindication through crime, then the outcome may just be worth it.