It is November 25, 1960, and the bodies of three beautiful, convent-educated sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. El Caribe, the official newspaper, reports their deaths as an accident. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of General Raphael Leonidas Trujillo's dictatorship. It doesn't have to. Everyone knows of Las Mariposas: The Butterflies.
Now, three decades later, Julia Alvarez, also a daughter of the Dominican Republic and long haunted by these sisters, immerses us in a tangled and dangerous moment in Hispanic Caribbean history to tell their story in the only way it can truly be understood: through fiction. In this brilliantly characterized novel, the voices of all four sisters - Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa, and Dede - speak across the decades, to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons to gunrunning to prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo's rule.