There are few cities in the world I love as much as Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. I love reading novels set in that superb city, so of course was drawn to Sara Sheridan’s book, The Fair Botanists. This is a novel set in the time of the Scottish Enlightenment when Edinburgh became known as the ‘Athens of the North’, and it is the story of two women who are connected with the establishment of the Royal Botanic Gardens in the city. Both are interested in plants – one draws them and the other makes perfumes from them. The book contains real people from history – Sir Walter Scott, King George IV making his royal visit to Scotland – and is a beautifully told story. I really enjoyed it.
I had not read anything by Sara Sheridan before, and was interested to note that she wrote script for some of the TV series Victoria and also the script for ITV’s Sanditon, based (very loosely) on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel. I’m now keen to try her series of mystery novels, featuring Mirabelle Bevan.
I will be visiting Scotland with a tour group in late May and am so excited about getting back to one of my most loved parts of the world. There is still a room available on the tour, so do consider joining me. It is an incredible privilege to eat dinner in R.L. Stevenson’s childhood home, to explore Gavin Maxwell’s cottage and hopefully see otters (described so magically in his Ring of Bright Water), to tread in the footsteps of Burns and Scott, to meet John Buchan’s granddaughter and to go where Johnson and Boswell went on the glorious and truly spectacular Isle of Skye. For further details, see https://www.asatours.com.au/tours/literary-scotland/
When in Edinburgh, I definitely plan to visit the Botanic Gardens and see something of what is described in Sara Sheridan’s novel. Do add her book to your reading pile.