This is a delicious casserole, a slow-cooking story stew, reducing gradually and becoming enriched with years, with lives, with observation, as a garden grows and adds layers of stalks, seeds and harvest, the cycles of life and death rolling with the seasons. But this doesn't mean that not much happens. This book is an old man's reflection on his life, but his life is lived at a time of great change, change which has had its effect on all of us. It's partly about the fascinating history of medicine, the gradual movement from ancient herbal knowledge shared by wise women and men in cottages, to physic gardens of healing herbs owned by men of science, to the eventual switch from applied folklore based on 'it's always worked, don't know why but it does' to the new voyage of discovery into human anatomy, how the body works, why certain medicines work, as modern medicine came into being, with so many gains, yes and some losses too. But this is history as it should be, how events change the lives of ordinary people, how hard it is to adapt as the world changes around you, and yet how the basic qualities that matter still stand. It's also about class, and education; how that education was the privilege of the rich, and how it divided people of equal ability but unequal wealth. It's about friendship, and love, and betrayal. About family, and how biology was destiny not only for women, but men too. Catherine Czerkawska gets into the minds and bodies of our past, as the characters literally get into the minds and bodies of their fellow humans, and deal with what they learn.