#bookreview The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas

Goodreads blurb:

Great Aunt Oleander is dead. To each of her nearest and dearest she has left a seed pod. The seed pods might be deadly, but then again they might also contain the secret of enlightenment. Not that anyone has much time for enlightenment. Fleur, left behind at the crumbling Namaste House, must step into Oleander’s role as guru to lost and lonely celebrities. Bryony wants to lose the weight she put on after her botanist parents disappeared, but can’t stop drinking. And Charlie struggles to make sense of his life after losing the one woman he could truly love. A complex and fiercely contemporary tale of inheritance, enlightenment, life, death, desire, and family trees, The Seed Collectors is the most important novel yet from one of the world’s most daring and brilliant writers.

My reading experience:

The latest gift from Scarlett Thomas is a huge surprise. Expecting her usual academic yet affable writing style, loaded with information and imagination, the book was all of those things imbued with creative amusement, joy and dry humour.

I’m not sure I have the right vocabulary to convey the enduring emotions left after reading this book. It is an excellent summer read but not because it’s light and fluffly, because it is funny, and because it is so very unique. I haven’t laughed out loud at a book this much before.

The Gardeners are truly a fucked up bunch, with interesting and compelling pasts which the reader is carefully navigated through by way of dramatic interlude passages designed to make you stop and think along the way. Clever, very clever writing. I had a lot of page markers in this book! When a book gives this much, you know the writer has sweated tears and drank copious amounts of something … let’s say coffee for the sake of argument, getting this story on to paper.

Bryony is so memorable. She is truly a bumbling, neurotic, ever so slightly mad, normal woman just trying to get by, she is all of us and none of us at once. “… Bryony gets off the train wondering why everyone does not drink all the time because it really makes life a lot more pleasant …Then, out of nowhere, the feeling comes to her that she is completely invincible.” Sooo Bryony.

As for the story – magical realism tucked nicely into a straightforward story of death and inheritance. Great Aunt Oleander has died and to each of her family she has left a seed pod, seed pods that were harvested on a long forgotten mysterious botany adventure. These seed pods just might be the secret of enlightenment, like that was an every day goal for your average Joe Bloggs, rather than the Holy Grail of spirituality and illumination.

Such an agreeable book, funny (so funny), sad, magical, and extraordinary.

This is most definitely a re-read and I highly recommend.


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