Maryann Austin

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Choking Butterflies


I admit it.  This is a dismal story.  A well-meaning reporter told me that dark would be a better choice of word.  I think, to be honest, I will stick with dismal.  It is a portrayal of a slowly decaying humanity and a fast-spreading apathy.  I purposely omitted any semblance of redemption.  This helps to convey the overall theme.  Things can, and do, fall apart even when you do all the “right things.”

This is the kind of book that I would have loved to write a paper about in school.  I would have hung my jaw in confusion upon finishing it ( Like I did with The Bald Soprano ), and then I would have eviscerated it to get to everything buried inside the story.  Choking Butterflies is riddled with symbols, and it leaves the reader with a sense of uneasiness and a plethora of things to think about.  My goal was to illustrates inhumanity on a believable level.

The right readers will love this book.  But a warning to all others:  True to many people’s lives, it is not warm and fuzzy.


A Review from a Reader in England


I loved this book from page one, it's a very special author who can throw their voice for the reader to hear. 
The writing is great, beautiful in parts, making it a breeze to read. This is not a big book and for the main part covers a relatively small window of time, but the detail is fully-formed and the characters so well written that their qualities are recognisable, in real people we all know. The character portraits throw up a lot of unanswered questions and I like it more for that - the reader is challenged to understand the complex personalities and they feel more believable for that. The deliberate spitefulness and disassociation of the daughter and Aunt are especially demanding of the reader, who cannot help but question the nature/nurture arguments of 'good' women raising 'flawed' children - although my mentioning this is too simplistic and Maryann Austin's novel is anything but. The minor characters are painted with the same care and the entire structure seemed faultless to me.
The story is one of normal life, like many others, and centers on the line of women in a family and it is full of symbolism - the choking butterflies of the title.
I would definitely recommend this book and will read this again.