The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn

I have to admit to this book not really being my cup of tea but we chose it for our gardening book club and so I wanted to read it. There is nothing awful about it apart from the romances which are bit players in the story, but nor is there anything earth shattering or terribly unique.

The story is a dual narrative, Elizabeth who in 1886 lived at Trebithick Hall in Cornwall and Anna who in 2017 lived in Sydney Australia. Anna is left a house by her Grandmother and when she knocks down a wall, a box is found that contains botanical paintings,a photograph, a necklace and some seeds in a bag. She germinates half of the seeds and plants them and then sets off on a quest to find out more about the paintings and people.

Elizabeth’s father is a botanist who travels abroad regularly but who recently died. He asked her to make the journey he had planned for after his death and to look for a plant that was very dangerous in the wrong hands but also very useful if you knew what you were doing with it. On one of her first trips to a valley in Chile where she was staying for a while, she found the plant but had no way of going back to get it for a long time. Damien Chegwidden was also on the hunt for the plant and he was not going to let anything get in his way.

The two narratives run parallel for some time but eventually start to cross over and link with both women finding love, staying in a country they hadn’t originally planned on staying in and having the seeds to a plant that others want. There are no hidden meanings in the book, no depths to explore – what you see is what you get which does not make for a great discussion. I have struggled to even come up with any questions that we could get started with.

  1. Did the descriptions of the places conjure up any images for you?
  2. In an interview, the author mentioned that there were lots of red herrings in the book. Did you think there were? What were they?

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