“They say I am mad and perhaps it's true.” So starts this absorbing book about a woman who could not bring herself to be merely a docile, subservient cipher. If you've ever dreamed of living in an earlier time, read this novel of Eleanor Goodricke, and be happy you're in this age. Born to a land-owning Puritan family in 17th century post-Cromwell England, Eleanor must walk a fine line between reality and perception. In reality, she is a naturalist, in an age when even male naturalists were barely respected, and anything unknown feared and labeled witchcraft. The perception of her servants and tenants is that she could well be a witch. Certainly, she is not a normal woman: she chases butterflies, and butterflies are thought to be the manifestation of human souls. This tale of love, sexual obsession, betrayal and courage, though at times exhausting, is a fascinating chronicle of one woman's overwhelming need to be true to herself. A 4. With its deep exploration of what it means to be a woman in an unsympathetic age, it's a good choice for a book group.
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