Every couple of months, I go on Amazon and look for free historical romances. It’s worth it for either a. the occasional author discovery, e.g. Caroline Linden’s The Truth About the Duke series, or b. finding deliciously bad books. Of Moths and Butterflies by V.R. Christensen is neither of these things. It is option c. a well-written novel that gets bogged down for some reason, but shows potential.
The historical elements and details were fascinating and realistic. The heroine, Imogen, finds work as a servant at a Great House and the description of her days and responsibilities were an insight into the lives of people often ignored in these books. Additionally, the way Imogen’s relatives treat her in a social context, their manipulations, and Imogen’s powerlessness rang true. It was agonizing.
Why I Abandoned It:
I stopped reading after about 200 pages when I realised that the novel was going to go on in the same well-written and angst inducing manner for about another 300 pages. That is a lot of comeheregoaway and suffering.
Imogen was a victim of sexual abuse and I have a really hard time reading escapist literature that features this element. Christensen did not dwell unnecessarily on it, but the kind of experience she had would have been deeply scarring and I can’t get it out of my mind while reading.
I find it off-putting when a character is lowered in station and then it is OBVIOUS to everyone that they are “meant for better things” or should be “raised up”. It’s disrespectful to the lower class people in the story as the implication is that they somehow deserve their lot. Granted, Christensen was being historically accurate in her portrayal of the attitude that can be found summed below in “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, but it still galls me as a reader.
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.