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Sandra Hayes-Gardiner’s (l.) memoir recounts her upbringing in a racially divided town in Manitoba and her journey from ignorance to understanding the impact of systemic racism.” FULL STORY

Cumberland Launches Debut Novel

December 19th, 2023

It’s a story known well in the world of opera.

Madama Butterfly, a young geisha in early 20th-century Japan marries an American naval officer. Their love is marred by cultural differences and when he returns to America, Butterfly faithfully waits. However, when Butterfly’s lover comes back, he brings a new wife with him. When Butterfly reveals that they have a son together, the naval officer and his wife offer to take the boy back to America. Devastated, Butterfly commits suicide.

In her debut novel, Circling Butterfly (‎Library and Archives Canada $19.43), author Sandy Cumberland explores the untold lives of the supporting characters in Butterfly’s life: Suzuki, the loyal maid; Sharpless, the compassionate US consul; and Thomas, Butterfly’s son. These intertwined tales offer a triptych of emotions, revealing the depth of pain and love surrounding Butterfly’s tragic story.

Cumberland’s novel enriches our understanding of Butterfly’s world, making her personal tragedy even more profound and heart-wrenching.

Sandy Cumberland spent 12 of the last 25 years as a stage manager for Pacific Opera Victoria. She’s worked on her fair share of Madama Butterfly’s as well as the rest of the Big Ten Operas. When she decided it was time to write her first novel, the story, the characters and the tragedy of Puccini’s beautiful work seemed a perfect place to start.‎ 9781999229009

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