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  • Tinder Press
  • Headline Review

The Butterfly Cabinet

Bernie McGill

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A secret shared. Two lives entwined. Finally the past must come to light.

An unforgettable story of two women linked by their roles in a tragedy at the end of the Victorian era.

When Anna, the young woman she cared for as a child, announces her intention to visit the elderly Maddie, Maddie recognises her last chance to unburden herself of a story that has gnawed at her for sixty years. For Maddie, rather like the butterfly cabinet she keeps safely under lock and key, has for too long guarded a secret: that of the day a four-year-old girl died at the big house where she worked as a nanny.

Finally, Maddie knows, Anna is ready to hear what happened. As Maddie's mind drifts back through the years, so too is revealed the story of Charlotte's mother, Harriet Ormond. A proud, uncompromising woman, Harriet's great passion is collecting butterflies and pinning them under glass; motherhood comes no easier to her than her role as mistress of her remote Irish estate. When her daughter dies, her community is quick to judge her, and Harriet will not stoop to defend herself. But her journals reveal a more complex truth.

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Praise for The Butterfly Cabinet

  • McGill has the ability to enter the brain and heart of her characters and so to make us sympathise with people who commit acts we abhor - Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

  • Beautifully done and thoroughly absorbing - Daily Mail

  • An absorbing story of marriage, motherhood and murder - Woman and Home

  • An intense exploration of maternal love and guilt - Financial Times

  • Utterly compelling... a haunted tale, pitch perfect in tone - Marie Claire

  • Assured and very readable, holding plenty of promise for the future - Irish Independent

  • Exceptionally accomplished - Ulster Tatler

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Bernie McGill

Bernie McGill was born and raised in Northern Ireland and attended Queen's University, Belfast. Her first novel, The Butterfly Cabinet, was published by Headline Review in 2011. Bernie is also the author of Sleepwalkers, a collection of short fiction (shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize) and a contributor to three acclaimed anthologies of Irish women writers, The Long Gaze Back, The Glass Shore and Female Lines (New Island, 2015, 2016 & 2017). She has numerous theatre credits to her name. Bernie lives in Portstewart, Northern Ireland, with her family.

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