Cecilia Galante is a lovely name. The Patron Saint of Butterflies is quite good too. It’s all about two girls in a religious commune, Honey and Agnes. As children they were the best ever of friends, always racing and playing and having a jolly time together, but now that they are a bit older, Honey has begun to rebel against their religious leader, while Agnes is getting ever more scrupulous about her religious observances. When Agnes’s grandmother comes to visit and discovers that the commune people (communists?) are being abused by their religious leader, she becomes determined to take Honey, Agnes, and Agnes’s little brother Ben away. Honey’s happy about this. Agnes not so much.
So guess what? Cecilia Galante was part of a religious commune when she was young. She said she was lucky her family stayed together after that, because a lot of the commune families broke apart after the commune did. I am fascinated by this. I am so curious about what her commune was like compared with the seriously sinister one she writes about in The Patron Saint of Butterflies. Though no creepy sex stuff, which is what you always hear about with cults, right? (Jim Jones, I’m talking to you. You were dreadful.)
However, despite the fact that the commune was all communey, and that’s creepy, I feel like more could have been done with Emmanuel and particularly with Veronica. They’re there, we don’t like them, but they’re not as interesting as they could be. They could be more threatening, right? Or more complex? I don’t know, they just don’t seem to do that much! The two girls, Honey and Agnes, are interesting, but the adults mostly aren’t so much. What’s good about the book is the girls’ seeking freedom; the other plot stuff sometimes seems less thoroughly managed.
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