Friday 20 May 2016

Blog Tour: The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans

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.

Mrs Poll

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
We were in the hallway, Mum and I, on our way out for a walk, with me crying in the home-made sling my enterprising mother had made out of a torn-up sheet (we had not been donated the pram yet) bundled up in a padded all-in-one Mum had been sent by a girlfriend in the States, which she used to put me in most days – especially to sleep in, because it was warm, and we were always cold. Mum was wild-eyed with lack of sleep, and grief. As she attempted to soothe me, she saw a woman coming down the stairs, and knew it must be the new neighbour from the top floor who had moved in swiftly, neatly, the day before.  ‘A very classy lady,’ Mr Lawson had told Mum pointedly, that morning. ‘We like her kind.’
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. 

I was born in London in 1974 and grew up on the mean streets of Chiswick, where I went to school. I was a completely undistinguished pupil in every way, except I absolutely loved reading and drama. My only achievements from the age of 5 to 18 were, a) winning a doodling competition at primary school (of a witch flying in the sky with balloons in her hand), b) I was head chorister of the church choir, which believe me is not something that wins you cool points with anyone you know apart from your granny.

After school I went to Bristol University and did Classical Studies, which was great, I absolutely loved Bristol and I liked being a student and being with people who didn’t know my shame ...more

The Butterfly Summer is out now

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