THE CHRYSALIS by Heather Terrell, narrated by Carrington Macduffie

I have read many of Marie Benedict’s novels. Some of them (BRIGID OF KILDARE and THE MYSTERY OF MRS CHRISTIE) I absolutely loved. Others (LADY CLEMENTINE) not so much. This debut novel (THE CHRYSALIS) has quickly become one of my favorites.

One thread of THE CHRYSALIS is set in 17th-Century Holland, famous for many things including its wonderful paintings. Photo 30079107 / Amsterdam © Veronika Galkina |

For starters, it is most unusual for one of those parallel plot historicals set in the past and in the present day to have a present day plot that is so compelling that it outshines the activities of the past. I think this is the only novel I’ve ever read to have done this feat.

The Allegory of the Catholic Faith, by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) a possible source for the painting at the heart of THE CHYRSALIS. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, source Wikipedia.

Although some readers found Mara Coyne’s attraction to Michael Roarke too gooey, and just couldn’t believe that such a tough litigator would fall for his too-obvious charms, I found it utterly believable. After all, they had an intense friendship when they were both college students at Georgetown University, when they were both fascinated by art history, and used to have long conversations arguing back and forth. In those days, Michael was the idealist and Mara the more pragmatic one.

I thought that author Ms. Terrell (who now writes under the pen-name Marie Benedict) did an excellent job of delineating the problem that some of us face when meeting old friends, namely, do we know this person or not? If we really liked the person, we tell ourselves that s/he hasn’t changed. But, as Mara found out to her cost, ten years can make a huge difference. I loved the way that Ms. Terrell sowed a teeny-tiny seed of doubt by having Michael’s eyes grow cold during the courtship phase of their relationship. That little detail prepared the reader for what was to come.

If you have never read this author, you are in for a treat. THE CHRYSALIS is truly a stunning debut! Five stars.

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