Thanks for stopping by! I’m thrilled to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour for The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan today. With thanks to Steven at Hodder Books for the invite to join the tour and for my copy. First things first let’s take a look at the description for the book…
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 in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which borders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant’s impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle 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 the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don’t last long in this Enlightenment city . . .
And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences.
The Fair Botanists is a wonderful piece of historical fiction especially as it offers such a vivid and descriptive setting. It was extremely easy to get caught up in the story along with the characters various situations. Elizabeth and Belle in particular are strong characters although their personalities differ quite a bit. There was something so engaging about them which made it so enjoyable to see a friendship build between the pair. Both of them are trying to navigate their way through life but having the restrictions of that time holding them back.
The story for the most part is quite gentle but very entertaining. The pacing was steady throughout and there was always something happening to keep me invested. Whether it was the rare plant that was at the centre of many different plot points. Or the characters lives and difficulties that they faced. At first I was a little worried when I saw the fairly detailed character list in the front of the book. However I needn’t have worried. In no time at all I found it was pretty easy to determine who was who. With every character bringing something special to the story. There is also a hint of romance within the story but it really is just a very small portion of the plot. I thought it just brought an extra special charm and didn’t overwhelm at all.
There was something very special about this story and I’m not sure I can put my finger on just one thing. For me The Fair Botanists just worked on so many levels and I enjoyed every moment I spent reading this book. Sara Sheridan has written a truly engaging story that held a gentle and immersive charm within its pages.