I was so lucky to be able to read the beautiful The Butterfly Summer last year and even get one of quotes from a previous book I read of Harriet's put on the back of the stunning finished copy of her latest book. I am therefore delighted to be the last stop on The Butterfly Summer Blog Tour and be able to introduce one of my favourite characters from the story 'Mrs Poll', with a little snippet from the book. If you want to read my review, you can here.
I never knew her maiden name: it was Mum who christened her Mrs Poll, all those years ago, the first time they met. Mum told me about that moment over and over again; it was my favourite story, growing up. My father had been confirmed dead a few weeks before. Mum was still waiting for the Oxford Museum of Natural History to give her more information – what had happened; would they bring the body back home? Not least so she could work out what to do next – she had no money, and actually hadn’t eaten that day.
Her parents were sending a cheque, almost begrudgingly; she’d had to reverse the charges to call them. Jack and Betty Griffiths had almost seemed to welcome the news of her misfortune, inasmuch as it proved them right in their dire imprecations not to throw over her promising future for this ‘butterfly hunter’, as her father referred to him. Her child benefit hadn’t come through, because of some problem with proving that she, an American, was married to a Briton. It was another bitterly cold April – spring refusing to arrive, frost every morning – and the damp in the flat was blooming, forming its own terrain. The few friends she possessed had long since melted away, and she was utterly alone. This was, as she used to tell me when I asked about Mrs Poll, her Lowest Point.
|The Glasswinged Butterfly Nina's Dad goes searching for in America|
So Mum had flattened herself against the corridor wall, hoping to avoid an encounter: she said she really couldn't face people much, in those days, and often Mr Lawson or Captain Wellum, before he went deaf, would complain about my crying. I would not be soothed though, I carried on crying.
‘Hello, there,’ came a voice, and Mrs Poll reached the last step and smiled at Mum. ‘What a beautiful baby.’
It was the first kind voice Mum had heard for days, and she looked at Mrs Poll like a drowning woman seeing a life raft.