Publication Date: 5th August
Formats: Hardback & Ebook
Price: Hb £16.99/ Ebook £6.99
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
I would like to say a huge thank you to Steven Cooper for inviting me on this book’s marvellous and fantastic blog tour. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for gifting me a wonderful and utterly beautiful finished copy of this stunning book. I would also like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to the creative talent Sara Sheridan, for breathing life into a fascinating and exciting time of Great Britain’s history, which also includes Scotland in this as well, filled with discoveries of both nature and vast and new landscapes in the world, which explorers would then send back to botanical places such as Kew Gardens among others. (I might need to stop there before I spoil anything further lol) Intrigued? let’s head over to the blurb and find out a bit more.
Could one rare plant hold the key to a thousand riches?
It’s the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV’s impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower – an event that only occurs once every few decades.
When newly-widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband’s aunt Clementina, she’s determined to put her unhappy past behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden, which boarders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant’s impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Bella Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation.
Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest in the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don’t last long in this Enlightened city.
And when they are revealed they can carry the greatest of consequences.
I have to admit as soon as I had this book in my hands, I was hungry to delve into this book’s secrets and the world of botany and Edinburgh in early 18th century. I was hooked from the first page and couldn’t put it down til the last page fell. This story evokes the life, times, smells, voices and feelings that swirled around at that time. Especially in Scotland what with only a few years previously where there were fresh wounds of defeat and betrayal by some of the lords of the land.
For me I loved the descriptions of Edinburgh, as having recently visited this majestic and breathtaking (in more ways than one lol) city, I felt I could visualise each area or place that the characters visited or stayed and lived. We are introduced to two bright, blooming and intriguing main characters, Belle and Elizabeth. Both at first seem to be similar if not in lifestyle but also in their outlook on life. But unbeknownst to Elizabeth, Belle is not who she thinks she is, a lady of means and education. Yes Belle has had family connections and could be classed to be more than she is, but due to her precocious nature and not wanting anything from her family, has set out to be a “Courtesan” ( you can almost here the ladies of 18th century gasp with shock, horror and a tingle of delight). And Elizabeth who is.a relatively young widow, being sent to live with her in laws in a different part of the country. And yet it is here in, a cold bleak and mountainous city in Scotland that she finally feels herself at home.
We watch and observe these two strong (in their own ways) women, befriend slowly one another and how secrets and lies can always come back to haunt you and make cracks in a young friendship start to appear. I also loved how each of them comes at the Gardens with different skills and knowledge, one who paints the intricate detail of rare plants and the other in the smells that can evoke desire and perfume the air around oneself. I was hooked straightaway and found this story painting its own unique and fascinating picture of that time.
I won’t go into too much detail, only to let you know there’s alot more that goes on in this book, there’s a sense of mystery, danger, romance and secrets that could undo everything. All surrounding a visit from the King. This is a wonderful story and one that everyone should read, for both plant, botanical and garden lovers to historical buffs too. There is something for everyone in this story and I hope you get hold of this book as soon as you can (see above for publication date).
Ratings: 4 🌟s with a large ☕️ and a large 🍰 (just what you need with this book 😉)
Sara Sheridan is an Edinburgh-based writer of over 20 books including cozy crime noir mysteries set in 1950’s Britain and historical novels based on the real-life stories of late Georgian and early Victorian explorers. She has also written non-fiction as well as books for children. Sara has been named one of Saltire’s Society’s 365 most influential Scottish woman past and present.
I hope you have enjoyed this fascinating , wild and botanical beauty filled journey from Kew Gardens all the way up to Edinburgh.If you want to grab your hands on this lovely tale, you can either pre-order it or wait for it to come out on Thursday. You can find it in Waterstones, any independents (though you may have to ask) and of course on Amazon. I will leave you now to say Happy Reading and see you all soon!!!!