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Mosaic of Wings Paperback – May 5, 2020
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From the Back Cover
Nora Shipley has one goal--to carry on the legacy of her late father by taking over the scientific journal he started. To that end, she's fought to be taken seriously among her male classmates and graduate as valedictorian of Cornell's entomology program. When pressures to settle down rise to a fever pitch, she impulsively joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field and win a scholarship.
But India holds several surprises--she is impressed not only by the beauty of its natural wonders, but also by the gentle nature she discovers in the rival classmate who accompanied her, Owen Epps. Instead of exploring, however, she is forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her. During the many quiet days, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.
In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices--between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she's always thought she wanted and the man she's come to love.
"Duffy is an author to watch. She presents a unique look at society's expectations for women in two different cultures in the late 19th century. . . . This historical romance is recommended for readers of Tracie Peterson and Jody Hedlund."--Library Journal
"In this exceptional novel, Duffy tells a powerful story about personal transformation and legacy. From the picturesque falls of Upstate New York to stunning sites in India, Duffy shines in elegant, flowing prose and delicate precision that underscores the nineteenth-century setting. A Mosaic of Wings examines the rhythm of change, the sense of loss that accompanies a passing season, and fear and excitement of journeying into the unknown. Science, culture, and romance intersect enjoyably in Duffy's tale of academia, while the tensions of gender and social norms circa 1885 add complexity to her memorable characters." - Booklist starred review
"A nineteenth-century entomologist is caught between social expectations and desire in Kimberly Duffy's A Mosaic of Wings, a novel about wanderlust and women's empowerment. . . . India's allure is captured with appreciative details of its spices and embroidered saris. . . . A Mosaic of Wings is a religious romance that pays tribute to trailblazers and field research as a captivating, down-to-earth bluestocking dares to let her own dreams take flight."--Foreword Reviews
"The excursions through the Indian landscape and late 1800s Ithaca, New York, are well detailed and enchanting. . . . The stakes are high, and so are the emotions surrounding the choices Nora makes. The book had its hooks in me early on with its trailblazing female lead and her captivating uphill climb. Recommended."--Historical Novels Review
About the Author
- Item Weight : 11.6 ounces
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 076423563X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0764235634
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.92 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Bethany House Publishers; 4/2 Edition (May 5, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #263,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Nora's interactions with other characters also endeared her, and those characters, to me. I loved the dichotomy between her and Owen; it hearkens back to the problem of privilege vs. want or need without being preachy or making Owen into a villain. I simultaneously felt Nora's frustration that everything seemed handed to Owen, and rooted for Owen to find his place in the world, plus win Nora's heart. On the other side of the coin, I felt Nora's conviction as she learned, from Pallavi, Sita, and others, that her attitude toward education and intelligence was closing her off to real wisdom and deep friendships.
The secondary characters are all three-dimensional and a pleasure, or at least interesting, to know. Sita stands out, of course; Kimberly expertly captured the combined savvy and immaturity of an eleven-year-old in a harsh world. As noted, Pallavi is a great conduit for Nora's emotional growth, and Swathi Davies is an unexpected yet perfect piece of the puzzle when it comes to the overall plot. The majority of male characters are frustrating or infuriating to various degrees, but I applaud Kimberly for giving them depth. Lucius in particular was both frustrating and fascinating. He does some terrible, inexcusable things. The scene with Nora's insect cabinet is heart-wrenching, for one, never mind what we find out he's guilty of later. Yet somehow, Kimberly managed not to make him a 100% horrible, one-dimensional villain. He is instead a dangerously misguided human who either can't or won't repent, and as such, he serves as a cautionary tale. As Nora notes, Lucius can pop up in all of us.
The plot weaves together like the expertly crafted, colorful threads of a sari, with dozens of small scenes that lend the whole thing emotion and gravitas. The scene with the sari is one of my favorites, as is the one where Nora and Sita discover the butterflies. Nora and Owen, of course, have some lovely romantic scenes together, including and especially the ones that aren't meant to be romantic. For instance, I loved how Nora opened up about her phobia of roaches and how that brought her and Owen closer. Finally, I even appreciate the scenes where Nora messes up, as with the weaver ants. They lend her sympathy and empathy, because she truly believes everything she does is a disaster. You flinch to see her make mistakes and face the consequences, but you also root for her to learn better for next time.
Finally, the spiritual thread in Mosaic of Wings is absolutely touching. It's subtle; most of the obviously Christian characters are hypocrites, which brings up another great layer. Yet, it is clear God guides Nora, Owen, and other characters who incline to Him, and that spiritual lessons are there for the taking. Probably my favorite part of the whole book occurs when Nora explains how her father died trying to get her a blue butterfly. I had to put the book down. Nora didn't deserve for her father to do that, didn't deserve the butterfly, period--and yet he did it. It's a microcosm of God's love for us, a love so intense I can never hope to wrap my mind around it. If you allow it to, that love will steal all your thoughts. You will be dumbstruck.
Similarly, I loved the spiritual thread encased in Nora's mission to rescue Sita. Nora appropriately learns she is not the savior or the hero, but she does the right thing. The fact that she is so dishonored and vilified for it is heartbreaking and discouraging, but in rescuing Sita, Nora does display Christ-like love at a high level. She embodies what it means to take a risk in the name of faith, pay for it, and then see blessings come. I might have liked the thread better if just one person stood up for her in the face of such hypocrisy, but it works great as is. It's certainly an inspiration.
As noted, I look forward to reading more of Kimberly Duffy's books ASAP. In the meantime, I urge you to read A Mosaic of Wings. It's a gorgeous story worthy of all the colors of India and all the inexpressible beauty of Heaven.
The ending was a little too tidy, and I was disappointed that part of the triumph was a solution that in perpetuity could have become gender- discriminatory; the very thing our heroine fought against.
The story and the writer have great potential, and I would read work from this author again, because I believe she will grow.
I highly recommend this book.
This book is well written, a perfect balance of description and dialogue that really transports you into the story. It felt as though I had become a scientist and had taken a trip to India. The setting was amazing, and the plot lines that went along with it all intertwined perfectly. There's your main plot, your romance, and your faith plot, and all were amazing and had me turning pages.
The characters were interesting and well developed. They had great backstory that was revealed over time at the perfect pace throughout the book. You couldn't help but love (or hate) the characters, and you become so invested in what happens to them!
Most importantly, the book had a strong faith based storyline. You really got to see the characters working to find God in the midst of their troubles, and the message within was beautiful.
This is a 5 star book that I will be recommending to everyone I know!