Monday, May 23, 2011

Romance Novel: The Butterfly's Daughter, Author: Mary Alice Monroe

A yes, a journey, millions of butterflies, JOY!

“And her story would begin with the word yes!” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

“Her grandmother told her that sometimes she had to listen with her heart rather than her mind. She listened now and in that miraculous instant, Luz knew what she had to do. For once she would silence her doubt and ignore her shivers of fear.
For once, she would be brave and say yes!” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

Luz says yes to following the migratory flight of the Monarch butterfly to the oyamel fir forest in Mexico where they overwinter. I’ve planned such a trip myself more than once. One day, I’ll say yes.

“All myths and legends are nothing more than stories. Tales told by shamans, priests, mothers, and fathers since the beginning of time to try to explain universal truths.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

These stories need to grow and change just like humankind. People have trouble letting go of them, though, even when they are no longer working.

“I am old enough to know I do not have all the answers. But I know this. Impulsive is not the same as courage. True courage comes from the heart. Tu corazon. Sometimes, it takes more courage not to jump and to stand strong. When each of us looks into the fire, we must decide for ourselves whether to jump.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I was born to live an examined life. I’ve tried to stop examining before. It just doesn’t work for me. What about you?

“It takes great courage to go into the darkness, to face your demons. Yet, it’s not so much courage that keeps me going. It’s more a fear of falling back into the darkness.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I’ve been at the edge of that abyss and jumped in more than once. Sometimes it’s either jump or die on the precipice. And yes, fear of being in that scary dark place of BEFORE is what keeps me going usually.

“The milkweed that monarch caterpillars eat contains toxins called cardenolides. It is a poison stored in the adult monarch’s abdomen and acts as a form of defense from would-be predators. The brilliant colors of monarch butterflies and caterpillars advertise their toxicity.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I think that this is so awesome. A system of protection has evolved for the little butterfly. Protection from all predators, except mankind, that is. Milkweed, an essential for Monarch’s, is threatened or endangered all across the USA. This is due largely to habitat infringement by human beings.

Touching thought alert:
“Abuela had told her many times that a monarch butterfly was the soul of the recently departed.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

“It was the way it was with grief. One moment she was fine, and the next, a comment, a thought, something trivial would waft by to spark a memory and grief would surge.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I remember this from when my dad died in 2006.

Very important theory alert:
“How do the great-great-grandchildren of the butterflies find the over wintering sites each year? Is it instinct? Genetic memory? The mother-daughter cell? How their homing system works is one of the many unanswered questions in the butterfly world.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

“There’s no map handed down, no powwow to discuss the plan. Just knowledge, instinct stored deep that guides the butterfly north. That’s the mother-daughter cells at work.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I believe in cell memory. I was a practicing Wiccan for a while. When I discovered Wicca it was like coming home. I did some research and discovered my ancestry is 7/8 ths Celtic. I remember dancing around balefires on moors on moonlit nights as if I had done it yesterday. (BTW I’ve never been to a moor at all, certainly not in moonlight, and certainly not yesterday.)

“Mi hija, all your life there will be those who will seek to hurt you by planting the evil of mean words and cruelty in your heart. Those words are like parasites. They have the power to destroy all that is beautiful in you. IF YOU LET THEM.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

Powerlessness, envy and fear are things that come readily to mind that cause people to act like this. It took me years to learn not to give them my power and let them hurt or stop me. There is an activist saying - ‘Those of you who think it can’t be done need to get out of the way of those of us who are doing it.’

“I’ve been chasing butterflies for ten years and one thing I’ve learned is that what we call coincidence is more expected than unexpected. Many scientists and theologians believe that everything that occurs can be related to a prior cause or association.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

Cause and effect explains most things. Sometimes things happen for no rhyme or reason, though.

“Life isn’t a series of random events at all, but rather an expression of a deeper order. When you looked back at them all, Luz thought, they made perfect sense, like chapters in a story.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

It’s amazing how you can look back on things and write a narrative that turns seemingly random events into a cohesive story.

“See how people smile when they see a butterfly? They can’t help themselves. Butterflies are joy with wings.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

They definitely make me smile.

“Abuela used to just smile at me in that wise-woman way she had and tell me kindness was like the sun and the rain. If you were miserly with it, your world would wither up.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I’ve certainly seen that to be true. Kindness seems to attract kindness.

“My mother used to tell me that we make our own luck.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

This also proves true. Luck is usually a result of my having made wise choices.

“Abuela used to say that a person’s sadness was like a well. Nobody knew how deep it went.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I’ve met people like this. ‘Drinking a cup of sorrow’ people used to say.

“She knew that on sunny days after a rain, butterflies gathered around the edges of mud puddles to sip salts and minerals from the soil. It was called puddling, but Luz rarely saw it.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I’ve seen butterflies do this on occasion. I love knowing why and what it’s called.

“Abuela always said a weak sauce is like a weak man--no good for a strong woman.” The Butterfly’s Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

And isn’t it just to bad that one can’t spice up a weak man and make him strong the way you can do with a weak sauce?

If you haven’t guessed, IMHO this is a very special book. It’s not a romance. It’s women’s fiction with a journey both real and emotional. There’s a lovely HFN (happily for now) ending.

An ‘ofrenda’ is referred to frequently. An ofrenda is an offering for the returning spirits of dead family members or ancestors. It is constructed on El Dia De Los Muertos, the day of the dead, November first. It’s a Mexican tradition.

Monroe also refers to Lady Bird Johnson and her wildflowers. From the website ‘Lady Bird Johnson Final Tribute (;

“She inspired the passage of the Beautification Act of 1965...which cemented environmentalism as a top priority in the United States.”

“Today, Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy lives on in the millions of blooms planted in the nation’s capital, in the sweeping banks of wildflowers lining U.S. highways, and in the charm of Austin’s revitalized Town Lake.”

There is a bit of Mexican food talked about. As a former resident of New Mexico I have a definite fondness for Mexican food. One recipe they talked about was chilaquiles. They sounded delicious.

I urge you to read this wonderful book.

I’ll be busy trying this recipe:


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I don't see butterflies often, but when I do, I know it is a message from my beloved cousin Cathy. She took her own life because living it was just too painful. She was gentle and quiet and lovely, just like a butterfly. To me, they are rare blessings that appear like gifts.

  2. The book sounds lovely. It's wonderful when you find something you can connect with so thouroughly.

  3. We have to plant milkweed in our lawns so they have something to eat! I was convinced of that before this book. Now, I'm even more convinced.