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The Butterfly Lampshade
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The Butterfly Lampshade

A Novel

By Aimee Bender
Narrated by Julia Whelan / 7 hours 21 minutes
Bookseller recommendation

The Butterfly Lampshade

“I absolutely loved reading The Butterfly Lampshade. We’re escorted through Aimee Bender’s novel by Francie, who as a child is removed from her mother’s care because of mental illness. Throughout the story, Francie questions her own sanity as she deeply believes she witnesses phenomena that defy nature. Increasingly, she withdraws from the world, owning next to nothing and working hard to remember the events of her life. This book and this amazing character are astonishing.”

Mark LaFramboise image Mark LaFramboise, Politics and Prose Bookstore

The first novel in ten years from the author of the beloved New York Times bestseller The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake, a luminous, poignant tale of a mother, a daughter, mental illness, and the fluctuating barrier between the mind and the world

On the night her single mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter, waiting to take the train to Los Angeles to go live with her aunt and uncle. There is a lovely lamp next to the couch on which she's sleeping, the shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie spies a dead butterfly, exactly matching the ones on the lamp, floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.
Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents -- her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact -- she is sure these things happened. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories maintain over her, and what they say about her own place in the world.
As Francie conjures her past and reduces her engagement with the world to a bare minimum, she begins to question her relationship to reality. The scenes set in Francie's past glow with the intensity of childhood perception, how physical objects can take on an otherworldly power. The question for Francie is, What do these events signify? And does this power survive childhood?
Told in the lush, lilting prose that led the San Francisco Chronicle to say Aimee Bender is "a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language," The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and a broken love between mother and child.

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Author
Narrator Julia Whelan
ISBN 9780593294642
Length 7 hours 21 minutes
Language English
Publisher Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date
Edition Unabridged
Libro.fm rank #2,382 Overall
Genre rank #396 in Literary Fiction

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