After a performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly several years ago, a friend turned to novelist Angela Davis-Gardner and asked, “What to you think happened next?” And so was planted the seed for Davis-Gardner’s next novel, the recently released Butterfly’s Child.
Davis-Gardner, a professor emerita at North Carolina State University and now the author of four novels, had already explored the intersection of U.S. and Japanese cultures in her previous book, Plum Wine, a BookSense pick and paperback bestseller. In Butterfly’s Child, she takes the elements of Puccini’s famous opera — a U.S. Navy lieutenant, a Japanese geisha, their young son, and the lieutenant’s betrayal with the American woman who becomes his bride — and crafts a multi-layered “what if?” More than speculative literary gamesmanship, the historical novel becomes a gripping domestic drama in its own right and the story of one young man trying to get back to his roots and to himself.
I had the great opportunity to interview Davis-Gardner for this month’s edition of The Writer’s Center podcast. Check it out for yourself! — Art Taylor