A Field Full of Butterflies

by Rosemary Penfold
291 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Bethany

A sweet little biography, with likeable characters and a poignant message.


Rosemary Penfold relates her childhood growing up in a small, Romany Gypsy community in the heart of Somerset. She describes each passage of her childhood, and reflects on the freedom that children in such a community were given during the War, that is now a rarity.

She describes the precious moments she shared with her cousins and grandparents, and acclaims her mother's ceaseless toils to feed her children when food was scarce. She compares the folly and felicity of her home life to the austere and alien world of Primary school, and contemplates on many a topic, from corporal punishment to her Granny's famously creative cooking.


This is a detailed account of a young girl's life, so there are examples of the usual stubbornness, deceit or gossip that most young girls dabble in at some point, but it is shown that she eventually improves herself in these areas.

Rosemary's Gypsy family were not defrauding people, according to the book, and any swindling is frowned upon. Her father goes poaching, however, and this is, in her opinion, not a bad thing when it was to feed his family.

Spiritual Content

She writes of how she is certain that God exists, and that the animals that roam the land are almost certainly put there by a Creator. Her father is said to have had casual chats with his Father, God, but he doesn't go to Church, with fairly shallow reasons.


There are details of when the teachers beat the children in school, and the children fight amongst themselves now and again, causing fairly bad blows and teeth to be knocked out. A nose is bloodied at one point. Someone nearly catches fire, but it is put out.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Alcohol is consumed, and it is mentioned that people become merry under its influence.

Sexual Content

There is a chapter about a Gypsy having had an affair with a teacher's husband. Rosemary's cousin elopes with a boy to Germany.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

"B****r" and "b****."


This is a fairly sound, moral book, but sometimes the sentences aren't very well strung together, making it a little awkward and tedious to read. It includes lovely photographs of various attributes of the gypsy life, and will no doubt leave you hankering to spend a summer in the country side, selling posies door to door, and turning cartwheels in the fields.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: 13+

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