Summary and book reviews of The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas

The Seed Collectors

by Scarlett Thomas

The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas X
The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2016, 396 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 396 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright
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About this Book

Book Summary

The Seed Collectors is a tale of inheritance, enlightenment, life, death, desire and family trees by a literary star in the UK.

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. As Henry James said of George Eliot's Middlemarch, The Seed Collectors is a 'treasurehouse of detail' revealing all that it means to be connected, to be part of a society, to be part of the universe and to be human.

Excerpt
The Seed Collectors

Somewhere in the grounds of Namaste House, a pop star is loose. Not Paul McCartney, who evidently couldn't make it. It's only Skye Turner, nowhere near as famous as Paul McCartney of course but currently a respectable number 7 on the Top 40 compiled from iTunes and Spotify figures (but not YouTube, where she has yet to make her mark). She is not just loose but lost and alone in the white garden, which is not yet white. She has been to the house thousands of times but has never made it beyond the orangery and into the grounds. And now Oleander is gone. About half an hour ago Skye Turner saw a copper sculpture of a horse that she would like to buy. It was standing in the middle of something called the 'wildflower meadow', although there are no wildflowers yet. Would such a thing be for sale? You don't know unless you ask. But now she can't find it again. At first the sculpture horrified her: it was half horse, half skeleton. But ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Besides the sex, the book abounds with discussions of enlightenment, spiritual philosophy and ponderings on the nature of life and karma — much is tongue-in-cheek, making fun of "touchy-feely" interpersonal self-discovery groups, people who follow gurus, and those seeking a brand of convenient enlightenment, but there is an element of earnestness as well, including philosophical discussions on the topic of love and forgiveness. I recommend The Seed Collectors to mature readers who enjoy eccentric and complex family stories and are not put off by an abundance of X-rated sexual content...continued

Full Review (803 words).

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(Reviewed by Sharry Wright).

Media Reviews

Financial Times (UK)
Scarlett Thomas has a skillful way of blending fantasy and realism... consistently enjoyable.

The Observer (UK)
She has woven her distinct brand of mystery and intrigue into a complex family saga.

The Times (UK)
A delightful compound of fantasy and traditional family saga ... A modern fairy-tale, with flashes that are savagely funny.

The Spectator (UK)
The Seed Collectors confirms Thomas as one of the most startling, unpredictable writers of her generation ... This is a clever, chaotic novel, with a steely edge hidden behind its rambunctious shenanigans.

The Guardian (UK)
Her prose is splendidly alive, full of unexpected phrases and delicious cadences ... like Pratchett, Thomas blends her flippancy and her philosophy perfectly. A fantastical family saga.

The Independent on Sunday (UK)
Blooming marvellous ... [Scarlett Thomas is] one of our most exciting novelists.

The Daily Mail (UK)
Her prose is positively luminous - funny, daring, fizzing with ideas and altogether captivating.

Publishers Weekly
Ebullient prose, engaging characters, lively imagination, illuminating details - Thomas is an original, and her novel is consistently entertaining.

The Sunday Times (UK)
You won't read a livelier tale about sex, death and out-of-body experiences all year.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Thomas is a literary star in the United Kingdom. She should be in the United States, too.

Author Blurb Neil Gaiman
The Seed Collectors is entrancing: it's a sharply observed contemporary novel of real people and real plants and real desire and real hurt, and it's somehow also one of the sharpest fantasies I've encountered. A sour-and-sweet delight.

Author Blurb William Gibson
Simultaneously sharply-drawn and dreamlike, often hilarious, The Seed Collectors is a baroque family saga of human fallibility, love, eccentricity, sex, spirituality, and of a lost, legendary, coincidentally lethal route to absolute transcendence. Scarlett Thomas is a splendid novelist.

Author Blurb Matt Haig
Scarlett Thomas is one of my favourite writers ever and The Seed Collectors might be her best yet. She fuses the comically everyday with a far-out botanical adventure in ways which are brutally funny and profound all at once. Barbed, casually genius, philosophical and intensely readable. A joy.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Fascinating Facts About Orchids

Each of the main characters in The Seed Collectors inherits a seed pod from a rare orchid, and these play a key role in the story.

People have been fascinated with orchids since the time of the Victorians, devoting much energy and resources to raising the myriad variety of these admired beauties. Between 1838 and 1910, orchid hunters traveled the world in search of exotic varieties bringing back shipments sometimes worth up to $80,000. Orchids have been around much longer than people — they've lived on earth for at least ten to fifteen million years. (Although some research indicates that orchids could be as old as one hundred and twenty million years, placing them on earth before the continents split!)

Orchids are the largest ...

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