GPL Blog

Book Review | A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

From the publisher: London, 1923. Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever.

If you love historical fiction with a touch of mystery and romance, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poison might just be a book for you. Main character Saffron is an intelligent and talented woman constrained by the limits on women in the 1920s. Alexander Ashton, her companion in investigating a mysterious poisoning at a party, is a scarred and handsome veteran of the Great War coping with PTSD.

I’m no expert on England in the 1920s, but nothing in the narrative struck me as outlandishly out of touch with the times. An author’s note discusses the research the author did in her attempt to be historically accurate.

The characters and story reminded me quite a bit of the opening scenes of the recent Disney movie Jungle Cruise. Saffron is plucky and doing what she must to advance her skills and knowledge as a botanist while fending off the inappropriate advances of her department head. Alexander is brave and thoughtful and does not dismiss Saffron’s ideas and theories because she is a woman.

I was somewhat dismayed at the clichéd climax of the mystery, involving our heroes tied up and in peril and the villains, now revealed, all but frothing at the mouth in their madness. I think it more likely they would simply have tried to escape with the ill-gotten gains of their evil deeds, but it certainly would make an exciting scene in a movie. I see a sequel to this book in the future, and I will read it if there is one.

I read an advance reader copy of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons from Netgalley.

The Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons will be available for checkout at the Galesburg Public library in print, audio, and ebook when it is released on June 7.