#20BooksOfSummer2021 THE FAIR BOTANISTS by SARA SHERIDAN #BookReview



This is Book 16 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


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 which only occurs once in several 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 border 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 . .

PUBLISHED BY HODDER & STOUGHTON

MY REVIEW


This was a blooming treat of a read! Full of history, strong and interesting female characters and a wonderful gardening backdrop, it had everything you want from a story and it just sweeps you along and transports you back in time with ease!

Set in 1822, amidst the backdrop of the botanic gardens of Edinburgh, you are following the characters involved with the set up and the general buzz of the town with the forthcoming visit of King George IV. But what gets more buzz than a royal visitor, is the flowering of a rare plant and the impact that has on different people for different reasons are followed in the story – some with more devious plans than others!!

Belle and Elizabeth are the main female characters and they are very different but both share a love for botany. As their paths cross you sense the secrets they’re both holding back but understand that they respect one another for being such independent souls.

I loved the frenetic energy of this book! There’s so much going on with the various characters and their scheming and plotting!! You really get a great sense of the time period and the expectation that fills the air with the impending royal arrival, alongside that of the rare flower set to bloom, and you find yourself totally immersed in the drama and conflicting characters! Loved it!


★★★★

#AudiobookReview The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Living Mountain is a lyrical testament in praise of the Cairngorms. It is a work deeply rooted in Nan Shepherd’s knowledge of the natural world, and a poetic and philosophical meditation on our longing for high and holy places. Drawing on different perspectives of the mountain environment, Shepherd makes the familiar strange and the strange awe-inspiring. Her sensitivity and powers of observation put her into the front rank of nature writing.

PUBLISHED BY CANONGATE BOOKS

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.

Written in the 1940’s and hidden in a drawer until the 1970’s, this is a stunningly beautiful and enchanting ‘ode to the Cairngorms’. The wonderful language used throughout is brought to life exquisitely by Tilda Swinton, and even has bird song in the background which just adds to the feeling of calm and serenity that I had when listening.

Nan Shepherd was a woman who lived in Scotland her whole life and devoted her time to being amongst nature and walking the hills and mountains, taking note of all she saw around her and that lesson comes across loud and proud with her attention to detail. A very relevant lesson to us all, especially in these times, to take note of the little things you see, hear and smell around you.

She explores the wildlife living in the mountains, the danger to life and the changing and perilous weather experienced throughout the year. She shares her own recollections of climbs and walks, and what each journey taught her about herself. Just time with herself in nature made her feel so much and gave her life and energy.

Beautifully written and beautifully read!

★★★★

The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell #bookreview #nonfiction

THE BLURB

Neil Ansell’s THE LAST WILDERNESS is a mesmerising book on nature and solitude by a writer who has spent his lifetime taking solitary ventures into the wild. For any readers of the author’s previous book, DEEP COUNTRY, Robert Macfarlane’s THE OLD WAYS or William Atkins THE MOOR.

‘A gem of a book, an extraordinary tale. Ansell’s rich prose will transport you to a real life Narnian world that C.S.Lewis would have envied. Find your deepest, most comfortable armchair and get away from it all’ Countryfile

The experience of being in nature alone is here set within the context of a series of walks that Neil Ansell takes into the most remote parts of Britain, the rough bounds in the Scottish Highlands. He illustrates the impact of being alone as part of nature, rather than outside it.

As a counterpoint, Neil Ansell also writes of the changes in the landscape, and how his hearing loss affects his relationship with nature as the calls of the birds he knows so well become silent to him.

Publisher;  Tinder Press

  • ISBN-13: 978-1472247117

 

BUYING LINKS

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore

Book Depository

 

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a calming and enlightening read and am in total admiration of the author and wilderness walker, Neil Ansell, who sets off alone to enjoy the beauty that the world has to offer despite his own failing health.

It is set in the North West Highlands and the descriptions make it sound like heaven on earth! Would have loved to have had some photos to accompany the text, but he has a wonderful way with words that helps paint the picture of the scenes he encounters. And with his failing hearing, you do get the sense that he picks up more on the sights although he does mention the sounds he misses as his beloved songbird soundtrack is slowly disappearing to him because of his deafness.

This doesn’t stop him setting off alone to explore the Highlands and noticing changes in the wildlife and scenery from trips he’s made years ago, and it does make you worry about the mess that humans are leaving behind, especially as he even finds rubbish dumped along one of his paths in the middle of nowhere.

It’s a fascinating mix of nature writing as he encounters a variety of wildlife, alongside his own thoughts on his love of the solitude and how that hasn’t always been compatible with his lifestyle, and that he doesn’t feel he’s missing out on things because he likes to be alone. It also touches on how those travelling nowadays aren’t really cut off from the world with the use of GPS and the internet, as opposed to when you’d occasionally get sent a postcard from someone away and how you can never really be cut off from what’s going on in the world because of technology and that saddens him.

I loved how he wrote this over a period of 5 visits over a year so you get to see the changes each season bring and how his outlook differs over each time. It was absorbing and uplifting and I will be more interested to pick up the other books from this author now to enjoy more of his adventures and views.

🍃🍃🍃🍃🍃

My thanks to the publisher for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

THE BLURB

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

Release Date    28th September 2017

Publisher    Profile Books Ltd

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I thought this was a highly amusing and informative book as it steps behind the scenes at The Bookshop in Wigtown, which is a second hand bookstore in Scotland. The owner, Shaun Bythell, recollects the past year as the owner and all that entails – the highs, the lows, the weird customers, the onslaught of Amazon and its’ practices, the funny and stressful sides of a booksellers life and how he gets his revenge on those who browse his shelves and then claim they can get the book cheaper elsewhere – when he knows they can’t!!

There is a real warmth in the way that he writes and it had me chuckling on many occasions and it just sounds like my idea of heaven to visit! It has even prompted me to join the Random Book Club that the bookshop runs so can’t wait for my books to start arriving!!

For all those of us who love reading and love rummaging through old bookstores of which there are far too few nowadays! Save the secondhand bookshops!!

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.