Aunt Oleander is dead. In the Garden of England her extended family gather to remember her, to tell stories and to rekindle old memories. To each of her nearest and dearest Oleander has left a precious seed pod. But along with it comes a family secret that could open the hardest of hearts but also break the closest ties… A complex and fiercely contemporary tale of inheritance, enlightenment, life, death, desire and family trees.
I had seen everyone going wild over The Seed Collectors and Scarlett Thomas; she had, as yet, eluded me, so I was really intrigued by the fact she could create such a furore. And to be honest, it took me a while to get there, but by the end I was getting glimmers of it.
The style is odd, leaping at will between several stories that at times appears frantic and disorganised, at others it answers the very questions that were raising themselves as you read.
Character-wise, it’s easy to go: Uh, who’s that? It takes a while to get your head around the who’s who, and even then you still have to take a moment at times. The other problem is that, for a while, there’s no character that immediately draws you in so that you are invested in their outcome. I became interested in several, but I never really became truly invested. I did like Bryony though, if I had to pick one.
And ending-wise, there’s a lot of ambiguity, and having those answers might have really hooked me, because by the time I got there I was getting really into her writing style. Once you got used to the jumps and a bit of a grip on the who and what, then it’s actually quite an enjoyable book.
It’s fast-paced, rammed with plot, excellent and diverse writing style and never really leaves you bored. It will, however, leave you with some questions, and having those answers would have probably been the clinching factor in truly winning me over. The Seed Collectors is strange, but that good, intriguing kind of strange.
2nd July 2015 | Canongate Books