The Fair Botanists

Sara Sheridan Pages: 367 Published: 2021

The book: It is 1822. Recently, widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband’s aunt. She is intrigued by the beautiful Botanical Gardens that are under construction.  

Elizabeth meets Belle Brody, a young woman who shares her passion for botany. However, Belle has a secret she wants to keep from Elizabeth and an ulterior motive for her interest in the Botanical Gardens. But secrets are hard to keep in Edinburgh… 

You might like it because: It’s an interesting story that places women at the heart of the enlightenment period in Edinburgh. Sheridan conjures a vivid picture of what life was like in the city during that time. 

What did other people say? 
“Completely enchanting and fascinating . . . a rollicking and immensely readable tale . . . Sheridan succeeds in what very few have attempted before; in imagining early 19th century Edinburgh as a genuine if imperfect city of enlightenment.” The Scotsman

“A page turning read with the pace of a thriller, The Fair Botanists is a fascinating glimpse into a turbulent age and some truly intriguing characters. A must-read for fans of Elizabeth MacNeal, Sonia Velton, and Laura Shepherd-Robinson.” The Historical Novel Society

Awards & Recognition:
Winner of the Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2022

How quickly will you get into the book? For me, this was a slow, gentle build. The book was interesting from the first few pages of prologue. As the story progressed, I got more sucked into the lives of the main characters.

You might not like it because: For some readers, the pace of the story might be too slow. For others, the descriptions of Edinburgh and life in 1822 may be too detailed. 

What might you read next?
Want to continue with a botanical theme? Try Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, the story of a pharmacologist who travels to the Amazon in search of a former teacher and a piece of research on an amazing new drug.

Alternatively, read some nonfiction and pick up the true story of the man who founded the first botanical garden in the United States, American Eden, by Victoria Johnson.

Or, for something completely different, read Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn, a modern-day crime novel set in Edinburgh during the annual Festival. 

© Book Curious 2023