The Butterfly Plague

ISBN: 014013395X
ISBN 13: 9780140133950
By: Timothy Findley

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About this book

It is Hollywood 1938. A great star is planning a stunning comeback, while another is bent on self-destruction. And, as dark clouds hang ominously over Europe, hordes of Monarch butterflies swarm beautifully but menacingly over Hollywood. Against a colourful backdrop of butterflies and beaches, Timothy Findley skillfully phases reality into nightmare, exploring mothers' relationships to sons, women's relationships to men, beauty's relationship to evil. Blending biting humour with brilliant perceptions of the levels of despair, The Butterfly Plague presents the movie world in all its splendour and decay.

Reader's Thoughts

Billi Knight

There were a few arresting scenes in this book, but otherwise I didn't enjoy it much. All the promise in the first few chapters faded quickly. The characters weren't terribly interesting and the plot meandered.


Complex, dark, and beautifully written, but not the kind of story that grabs me by the heart, if you know what I mean.


my favorite timothy findley book.


Didn't finish.

Rachel Gardner

This book was good, but not my favourite Findley novel, although perhaps this is the point. It is well redeemed by its imagery and thoughtful passages that stuck with me long after finishing the novel itself, and reasonated with the complexities and ironies of life and death, love and beauty, power and humility, memory and truth. Findley uses Germany in 1938 as an example of unrecognized power, and then holds it up against Ruth's husband, and even with his own power as author within the book, all sources of power which were (or are) largely unrecognized or ignored, changing history, people, courses of events, without much opposition at the time. Ruth becomes a symbol of resistance through her eventual opposition to her husband's abuse and domination, and her role as "the dreamer" who sees or remembers things that others don't think happened. Perhaps Findley's desire to show the power in his role as author justifies the loose ends at the end of the book, the strange change of voice and verb tense, and a feeling that the story lacks a conclusion. I had a thought after reading it too that the story ended as life might end - with not everyone's stories figured out or tied up nicely in a bow, but rather a mess of unanswered questions that we wish we could hear more of.

Graham Harvey

it had some great sparks, but then it left a lot of paths hanging. There is great darkness described very well with the world of 1938; I liked the way LA met Germany of that time and how life and death and beauty were explored as themes.


Definitely my least favourite Findlay book. Just didn't get it, if there was something to get.


Dark and hauntingly beautiful. My first Findley book and it didn't disappoint.


This book started off very well and then quickly became boring after the shift in plot. Diappointed with the end. Wraps nothing up. Lots of amazing imagery and potential connections which are dropped and left unexplained in the conclusion.

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