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In the Time of the Butterflies Hardcover – January 9, 1994
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From the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents comes this tale of courage and sisterhood set in the Dominican Republic during the rise of the Trujillo dictatorship. A skillful blend of fact and fiction, In the Time of the Butterflies is inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government. Alvarez breathes life into these historical figures--known as "las mariposas," or "the butterflies," in the underground--as she imagines their teenage years, their gradual involvement with the revolution, and their terror as their dissentience is uncovered.
Alvarez's controlled writing perfectly captures the mounting tension as "the butterflies" near their horrific end. The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth and surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family's political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life.
In the Time of the Butterflies is an American Library Association Notable Book and a 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award nominee.
From Publishers Weekly
During the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three young women, members of a conservative, pious Catholic family, who had become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime, were ambushed and assassinated as they drove back from visiting their jailed husbands. Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as las mariposas (the butterflies), from their underground code names. Herself a native of the Dominican Republic, Alvarez ( How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents ) has fictionalized their story in a narrative that starts slowly but builds to a gripping intensity. Each of the girls--Patria, Minerva and Maria Terese (Mate) Mirabal--speaks in her own voice, beginning in their girlhood in the 1940s; their surviving sister, Dede, frames the narrative with her own tale of suffering and dedication to their memory. To differentiate their personalities and the ways they came to acquire revolutionary fervor, Alvarez takes the risk of describing their early lives in leisurely detail, somewhat slowing the narrative momentum. In particular, the giddy, childish diary entries of Mate, the youngest, may seem irritatingly mundane at first, but in time Mate's heroism becomes the most moving of all, as the sisters endure the arrests of their husbands, their own imprisonment and the inexorable progress of Trujillo's revenge. Alvarez captures the terrorized atmosphere of a police state, in which people live under the sword of terrible fear and atrocities cannot be acknowledged. As the sisters' energetic fervor turns to anguish, Alvarez conveys their courage and their desperation, and the full import of their tragedy. 40,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo; reprint rights to NAL; 20-city author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Julia Alvarez takes us through the early years of the four Mirabal sisters into adulthood, where they all became involved in politics. At different times, at least two of the sisters and three of their husbands were jailed for their work against Trujillo's dictatorship. In 1960, three of the sisters were found dead, supposedly the result of a car accident. One sister, Dede, was not with the rest on that trip and she survives.
I think that Alvarez is a gifted storyteller for the most part. My issues were that there were some places that could have been cut, as they didn't add to the story. I also would have loved more information on Dede, as she still survives. I imagine that must have been horrible for her. I would love to read her book, but I haven't found an English version of it yet.
I'm not sure how the print edition of the book is, but the Kindle edition had a ton of typos. That really detracted from the book.
The writing is good, but ... the flaw came in the lack of a solid proof reading. Names spelled differently or sometimes without a capital letter. The numeral "1" in place of "I" was disconcerting, to say the least. "I'll" came out "111." In a couple of instances it seemed that words were missing, word were misused -- "bolts of Muslim" instead of "bolts of muslin."