THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER
A wondrously imagined tale of two female botanists, separated by more than a century, in a race to discover a life-saving flower.
On one side the scene is set in Victorian England, with the headstrong adventuress Elizabeth who takes up her late father’s quest to find a rare, miraculous plant on the other side of the world. Elizabeth faces a perilous sea voyage, unforeseen dangers and treachery that threatens her entire family.
In present-day Australia, Anna finds a mysterious metal box containing a sketchbook of dazzling watercolours, a photograph inscribed ‘Spring 1886’ and a small bag of seeds. It sets her on a path far from her safe, carefully ordered life, and on a journey that will force her to face her own demons.
Inspired by a sundial found in the Sydney Botanic Gardens and a newspaper article of a rare and poisonous plant native to Chile that had unexpectedly sprouted in an English garden, the seed of a story grew, taking Kayte across to Cornwall in her research travels.
In this spellbinding botanical odyssey of discovery, desire and deception, Kayte Nunn has so exquisitely researched 19th century Cornwall and Chile you can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, the touch of the flora on your fingertips.
While a work of historical fiction, Kayte’s protagonist in THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER was inspired by the life and work of Marianne North, an intrepid explorer and prolific botanical illustrator whose work can be seen in the Marianne North Gallery in Kew Gardens. Loose inspiration was also taken from real-life daring female explorers of the 19th century including cartographer and explorer Gertrude Bell, the writer, photographer and naturalist Isabella Bird, and Kate Marsden who travelled solo to Siberia in search of a plant to cure leprosy.
As part of the official book blog tour with Hachette Australia for this book, I’ve only recently found the time to read and review books again. Which means, I’m new to Kayte Nunn’s work. This is her third book, but her first historical novel and I must say, Kayte’s approach has the past and present intertwining impressively.
Often when Authors tackle a dual timeline, it can come across as disjointed but that’s definitely not the case here. Although, when you are in the thick of one era or on the verge of unlocking a piece of the puzzle, jumping timelines can sometimes feel like a rather frustrating ‘after the break’ moment. Which in mind was rather well done, adding to the suspense and dragging you into the story even more.
Kayte certainly knows how to paint a picture and paint it well. So descriptive, that I found myself swept away, transported to 19th century Chile and Cornwell. Having said that… being so descriptive, it honestly took me three attempts to get into the book because I just wasn’t in the right head space or space for that matter. I really needed to find that quiet corner and quieten my, always on the go, mind before I fell for this book hook, line and sinker.
I fell for the characters and the unfolding mystery, just as much as the locations and adventure. In the end, I didn’t want the story to end. I suspect (and hope) the actually ending might be Kayte gearing up for a sequel. Time will tell.
WHAT OTHER’S ARE SAYING…
‘I loved The Botanist’s Daughter. I was transported to the 1880s and Chile, to contemporary Sydney and Kew. A gripping, warm-hearted read’ JOY RHOADES, author of The Woolgrower’s Companion’
‘Fast-moving and full of surprises, The Botanist’s Daughter brings the exotic world of 19th century Chile thrillingly to life’ KATE FORSYTH
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of two contemporary novels, ROSE’S VINTAGE and ANGEL’S SHARE.
THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER is Kayte’s first novel of transporting historical fiction and stems in part from her love of flowers and all things botanical.
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