The Fair Botanists (Hardback)
  • The Fair Botanists (Hardback)

The Fair Botanists (Hardback)

Hardback 384 Pages
Published: 05/08/2021
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'Compelling, fascinating . . . A cracking good read'
Val McDermid

'An evocative, enjoyable portrait of 1820s Edinburgh'
Sunday Times

'Lush, seductive'
Daily Mail

'Completely enchanting'

'A beautiful tale of scandal and intrigue'
Susan Stokes-Chapman, author of Pandora


Could one rare plant hold the key to a thousand riches?

It's the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV's impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower - an event that only occurs once every few decades.

When newly widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband's aunt Clementina, she's determined to put her unhappy past in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which borders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant's impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation.

Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don't last long in this Enlightenment city . . .

And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences . . .


'Dazzling, original, full of wonderful characters' Katie Fforde

'An absolute treat for fans of historical fiction and rich storytelling' Red Magzine

'Lively and generous-hearted, with an array of utterly engaging characters, this enchanting novel reads like a warm tonic for the soul' Mary Paulson-Ellis

'As rare and lush as the Agave flower itself, The Fair Botanists is a richly realised, transportive delight' Rachel Rhys

'Beautiful . . . Every sentence is a gift. If you love The Doll Factory or The Binding, you'll love this' Miranda Dickinson

'Delightfully original, sensuous historical fiction, led by a charge of female characters as captivating and complex as the brightest of botanical flowers' Cari Thomas

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 9781529336207
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 601 g
Dimensions: 240 x 154 x 38 mm


Sheridan creates an evocative, enjoyable portrait of 1820s Edinburgh and of two women determined to lead independent lives. - Sunday Times

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, a thrilling, optimistic and romantic landscape where science flourishes, beauty is created, wrongs are righted, possibilities are infinite, and women can begin to dream, at last, of how it might feel to be free. - Scotsman

Lush, seductive and scandalous, this is a gorgeous read. - Daily Mail

Compelling, fascinating and incisive about its social context. A cracking good read - Val McDermid

What a beautiful, immersive gem of historical fiction this is! - Good Housekeeping

An absolute treat for fans of historical fiction and rich storytelling. - Red Magazine

A vibrant mix of history, romance and mystery - I Paper

Dazzling, original, full of wonderful characters and so interesting! Anyone who's ever looked at a flower will love it as much as I do. - Katie Fforde

Joyously seductive prose with evocatively-drawn characters, The Fair Botanists is a beautiful tale of scandal and intrigue firmly rooted in the capital of 1820s Scotland. - Susan Stokes-Chapman

Beautiful . . . Every sentence is a gift. If you love The Doll Factory or The Binding, you'll love this - Miranda Dickinson

I loved this vivid evocation of Enlightenment Edinburgh - a city in the throes of tumultuous change - filled with a cast of fascinating characters, both real and imagined. Highly recommended. - Fiona Valpy

A charm of a book. A spirited tale of female empowerment set amongst the blossoms of enlightenment Edinburgh, it is suffused with the rich perfume of its historical era. Lively and generous-hearted, with an array of utterly engaging characters, this enchanting novel reads like a warm tonic for the soul - Mary Paulson-Ellis

Delightfully original, sensuous historical fiction, led by a charge of female characters as captivating and complex as the brightest of botanical flowers - Cari Thomas

Enchanting and absorbing . . . [I enjoyed it] because it's about women and women's lives, people I know and talk to, and am - Anstey Harris

Sara Sheridan weaves a vivid, bewitching tale of scandal and female empowerment. - Woman's Own

Pacy and beautifully realised historical fiction. - Best

Lush, seductive and scandalous, this is a romantic tale of two intriguing women and their evolving friendship. - Psychologies

With a cast of colourful characters, there's much to enjoy here. - Choice

The storyline is compelling, the pace perfect, and the characters consistently engaging, but what made this a stand-out book for me was the quality and quantity of the research, and the skilful way that this is interwoven throughout the narrative. - Buzz Magazine

A seductive, sensory romp through Georgian Edinburgh. Hugely enjoyable. Highly recommended - Ambrose Parry

There's no enlightenment without enlightening women, and Sara Sheridan gives us two great ones to reckon with in Belle and Elizabeth. The Fair Botanists gives us a glimpse into the complex life of Edinburgh in the 1820's with joyous female characters at the heart of the story - Annie Garthwaite

Impressively researched, The Fair Botanists weaves incredible fact - the transfer of the Botanic Gardens to a new site and the incredible journey of the trees across the city, and the much-anticipated flowering of the century aloe - with the intricately-plotted loves and fortunes of Belle, a forward-thinking courtesan and perfume maker, and Elizabeth, a widow who steps out of the shadows of her unhappy marriage to learn her own worth. - Claire Gradidge

The Fair Botanists beguiles all the senses in this tale of intrigue in Enlightenment Edinburgh. An entertaining read - Sarah Maine

A cleverly crafted novel offering a heady mix of secrets, intrigue, skulduggery and romance. Immersive and engaging, I couldn't put it down! - Anita Frank

The Fair Botanists is a ravishing tale of nature, love and secrets, told with lush prose and eloquent style. A historical, feminist masterpiece - T.A. Willberg

The Fair Botanists brings 1820s Edinburgh to life in glorious, meticulously researched detail. I loved watching these characters blossom, as the flowering or a rare plant has repercussions for them all. Sara Sheridan has created a captivating, utterly convincing world and a wonderfully heartwarming story. - Elizabeth Lee

Atmospheric, absorbing and completely immersive - I lost myself in this brilliant book - Rachael Lucas

A stunning, stylish book, packed to the brim with delicious and deeply sensual experiences. The setting, the brilliantly drawn cast of passionate characters and the vivid descriptions of the burgeoning plants and flowers will stay with me for a very long time. This is a gem to savour and read over and over again. - Celia Anderson

A fascinating and beautiful evocation of Edinburgh. I adored this wonderful book and didn't want it to end - Elisabeth Gifford

Historical fiction at its best, full of atmosphere, with beautifully drawn characters and a thoroughly intriguing story - Frances Quinn

I enjoyed it so much! Such a gorgeous story full intrigue, plants and gorgeous imagery that utterly swept me away from the very first page. Glorious! - Lily Graham

Sheridan brings the Scottish Enlightenment brilliantly to life in this vibrant, evocative novel about female friendship, empowerment and transformation - Nikki Marmery

What a setting and cast of characters! This seductive and sensual novel comes from a writer at the height of her powers. Captured my senses, and my heart - Essie Fox

A beautifully written, enchanting escapist delight, peopled with wonderful characters. I really enjoyed the exploration of growing female independence in a male world - Belle and Elizabeth will stay with me for a long time. - Caroline Lea

The cinematic prologue had me instantly hooked, as did the world of botany, perfume, potions and intrigue. Sara's characters are wonderfully drawn, the writing is so evocative, and sumptuously imagined. Not since Patrick Suskind's Perfume has a book had such a strong sensory impact on me. I was intoxicated! A feast for the senses... The Fair Botanists is dazzling. - Celia Reynolds

Perfectly paced, romantic and full of intrigue, The Fair Botanists is a truly wonderful story where women take centre stage. The writing is exquisite. - Vikki Patis

Rich with period detail, this novel transported me to early nineteenth century Edinburgh. I loved the bold brave women at its heart and was captured by the sense of their historical moment when different futures were becoming possible for those who dared to reach for them. - LM Dillsworth

Sumptuous and atmospheric. A beautifully described jaunt through Georgian Edinburgh, with romance and intrigue. - Clare Whitfield

Sprinkled with deliciously tantalising scandal and intrigue, and colourful, engaging characters. A sheer joy to read - Sue Lawrence

In The Fair Botanists, Sheridan has expertly woven multiple strands of machinations, a heady mix of sex, intrigue, scent, and flora. - Ever Dundas

Like the Agave plant itself, this is a story full of sensual detail. I learnt new and surprising things about my city, its people and Botanic gardens - Jemma Neville

This wonderful dip into life in historical Edinburgh is both enlightening and entertaining and by using historically documented characters and places is sure to delight readers interested in both history and botany. - The Wee Review

This is a great book. An immersive read and a heartfelt, human story of science and botany - The Book Trail

As rare and lush as the Agave flower itself, The Fair Botanists is a richly realised, transportive delight - Rachel Rhys

Sara Sheridan, already one of the Scotland's finest historical fiction writers, excels herself in The Fair Botanists. A glorious and jaunty journey through 1820s Edinburgh, I fell in love with this book, its feisty women and luscious plants from the very first page. - E.S. Thomson

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“A beautiful and immersive historical fiction.”

Set in Edinburgh, this novel tells us the story of two women and their unlikely friendship over their mutual interest in plants.

Young widow Elizabeth arrives in the city to live with her husband’s wealthy relatives.... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 24

“Edinburgh shines”

The thought of a peek into early nineteenth century Edinburgh appealed to me. I like a novel where location is as big a character as the people and Edinburgh really lends itself to that. In the last year or so I’ve... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 20
Dan - Clifton, Bristol.

“A fabulous read!”

Summer, 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours that the King himself George IV could be making a visit which everyone cannot stop talking about, despite the fact his majesty has a tendency to have changes of heart... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 18

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