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Showing 1-10 of 55 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 78 reviews
on December 28, 2016
As a child born in Japan to an American soldier and a Japanese lady, I could relate to everything Benji was going through. My dad to leave us behind because she was considered a "war bride". Luckily for my mother and me, he re-entered the army and asked to return to Japan. He came back for us and had to to do paperwork to ask permission to get married and be recognized by the US Government to bring us back to the US as a family. I also felt discrimination while on my granny's farm in West Virginia for two years, being called "Jap" and "yellow skinned". By the way, I loved the writing and the story unfolding as it did.
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on September 6, 2016
Butterfly's Child: A Novel is an engrossing retelling of Madame Butterfly. The story progresses quickly, and I immediately found I couldn't put it down. The characters were interesting and full of depth, and their world seemed very real, making it easy to get lost in the story. As I find with any novel having good character development, the characters stayed with me after I finished the book, and missing them even made it hard to dive wholeheartedly into my next read.

It wasn't a perfect novel; the ending was a bit heavy handed, though I was admittedly surprised by it. Like other reviewers, I was turned off by the play-within-a-novel idea: an awkward and unlikely detail involving a main character who attends a performance of a popular international play (Madame Butterfly) to find he is watching the retelling of an excerpt from his own life.

Despite relinquishing a bit of sophistication by hitting the reader over the head with the Madame Butterfly concept at the end, the novel provoked some interesting thoughts. It raised questions about identity, culture, and whether it's possible to know what is truly best for another person. What the novel may have lacked in sophistication was made up for by its rich stories and characters.
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on October 23, 2015
Absolutely loved this book and recommend it highly. The author has done meticulous research about both Japan and the American Midwest in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is a continuation to the tragic ending of Madama Butterfly. I attended a spectacular performance of the opera the same weekend I read the book!! What a great weekend it was.
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on November 15, 2012
The author has given us an insightful view of the life of a mixed race child in middle America in the early 1900's. In addition, Benji's adoptive father is secretly in fact his biological father. His biological mother had killed herself in Japan. Butterfly's Child delivers a nuanced insight into the struggles of each of her characters. The insular attitude of a small town is portrayed such that the reader may visualize the delicate shivers of judge mental society women.
I don't believe the book needs the device of a reselling of Madame Butterfly. At the point that Puccini's opera becomes known to these characters as a story based on their real lives, the novel jumps a gap of credulity that just bothered me to the end of the story. While the chapters set in Japan portrayed an interesting view of the Floating World, I found the final twists again stretched the story too far.
So I have a mixed review. This writer has given us some fine character portrayals, and I wish she had skipped the opera device.
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on December 11, 2016
This is the story of Madame Butterfly and her child, whom she gives to his father by committing Hari Kari. That is what we know or think we know from the Opera. We get Pinkerton's back story, Kate Pinkerton struggling to raise Butterfly's Child and the childhood and adulthood of Benji Pinkerton. Many twists and turns and sadness in this unconventional approach to what happens once the curtain falls. Familiarity with the opera is helpful but not necessary to enjoying this book. It was on the list of books for the Arizona Opera Book Club, since we are doing Madama Butterfly in late January, 2017.
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on October 2, 2016
This opera has always moved me to tears - not because of Pinkerton and Butterfly's doomed love but because of Butterfly's loss of her son. The book's reimagining of the story changed every aspect but one - the heart of the tragedy of a young mother's desperate love for her son. This retelling is no less heart wrenching for all its "happy" outcomes. Every action has consequences and the innocent still suffer.
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on August 15, 2017
Having just enjoyed Madama Butterfly by Seattle Opera (amazing production!), I spotted this in their advert. Clever idea to follow Butterfly and Pinkerton's son to the midwest for a sad growing up tale (no surprise there), but the plot is rather weak and the book is overwritten. Some nice details about Japan (gather the author has lived there) but I forced myself to complete the story, more curiosity than interest.
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on July 8, 2016
This strangely flawed novel follows the plight of Benji, the five-year-old son of the Nagasaki geisha Cio Cio san and her "Ugly American" husband Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. If this sounds familiar, it could be because it's a continuation of what happens to "Trouble" as his mother calls him, after the opera, Madame Butterfly, ends.

Puccini was a great composer and dramatist who knew boundaries; unfortunately, Ms. Davis Gardner, while a decent crafts-person, knows none. There is much to admire, and I read it with interest until about 3/4 into the story when it took on a unbelievable twist.

It seemed very well researched and much insight into human nature; however, my admiration ended as the plot turned into a kind of post-modern self referential superficiality, unrelated to the earlier, fine, delving analysis of loneliness, alienation, racial problems of the late 19th century that plagued the US. It ended on an, "My, aren't I a clever, hip writer because I'm cynical and so is the world" note.

Benji, their offspring, is brought to the US by his father Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton and his "real American wife" (a quote from the opera) after his father's "play-thing," Japanese wife commits suicide upon learning of Pinkerton's marriage. Her sacrifice is in order give Benji a better life in America; in Japan, a "mongrel" blond haired, almond eyes boy would have no future and probably become a beggar.

The depiction of his life in America is poignant and accurate. Being called "Chink" and "Half-Breed," Benji tries to adopt in the Midwest. Christian atmosphere. His step-mother, step-Grandmother try their best to cope. His father is a failure at farming - after leaving the navy - and his guilt of causing Cio Cio san's suicide haunts him all his life.

There are so many rave reviews and I'm not saying not to read it, but this is my opinion.

I'm not averse to reading flawed literature, but this reeks of a not-untalented author who does not know the boundaries of good writing. If you want to know what I took exception to, it's in the next paragraph. SPOILER ALERT!

SPOILER ALERT! The plot device of Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton's going to a performance of Madame Butterfly (it is explained how the coincidence happens of an opera based on his life) is ridiculous and self-conscious, In addition, Benji's learning the truth about his mother's actions is pure amateurism, since the reason comes without any hint of it earlier; it's a terrible plot twist.
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on June 30, 2017
The premise sounded interesting, but the book failed to deliver 100%. The book started off well enough, but then bogged down toward the middle and the ending was rushed and contrived. I love the opera Madam Butterfly. This book had the same effect as did the sequel to Gone with the Wind; not so great or even good.
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on May 14, 2017
I read this for my book club. I found the story engaging and the characters interesting. The main characters for most of the book are tormented with loss and longing. There are many "what ifs" that seem to haunt them. The ending did bug me, so I couldn't give it 5 stars, but it was definitely well written.
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