Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Butterflies of Grand Canyon-Margaret Erhart

The Butterflies of Grand Canyon
Margaret Erhart
Plume, Dec 29 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780452295490

In 1951 Jane Merkle rides the train with her older husband Morris from St. Louis to spend the summer with her in-laws the Hedquists in Flagstaff, Arizona. On board she meets two female botanists; Elzada is going to Arizona to investigate a thirteen year old cold case murder. When they arrive they are warmly greeted by Morris’ sister Dotty and his brother-in-law Oliver. Dotty encourages Jane to be herself and not follow her mantra of “When in Rome, remember you’re from St. Louis”.

She heeds their advice after her luggage is lost to trade dresses for jeans as comfort is more important near the Grand Canyon. Jane buys a butterfly net and is attracted to National parks Ranger Euell Wigglesworth. Unable to stay out of the inquiry and the vastness of nature since she comes out of her cocoon, Jane assists on the investigation while chasing after butterflies of love.

The Butterflies of the Grand Canyon is an enjoyable historical tale that compares humanity and nature with the former filled with inane frailties and the latter majestic stark beauty, but does so with a soft touch. Jane is the star who holds the engaging story line together while the support cast enhances understanding of her metamorphosis and of the region. Well written in a low key way, fans will enjoy Margaret Erhart’s entertaining look at being human in the early 1950s on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Harriet Klausner

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