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The Physic Garden
 
 

The Physic Garden [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Czerkawska
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description

Review

Praise for Catherine Czerkawska: "Powerful" - John Burnside. "Moving, poetic and quietly provocative"; - The Independent. "Heart-warming, realistic and page-turning"; - Lorraine Kelly.

Product Description

Moving, poetic and quietly provocative' – The Independent. City life in the early nineteenth century was never short of drama: poverty and pollution preyed on all but the lucky few, and ‘resurrection men’ prowled the streets to procure corpses for anatomists to experiment on. Life is improving, however, for young William Lang, who begins courting Jenny, a fine needlewoman, and forms an unlikely friendship with botanist Dr Thomas Brown while working in the physic garden for a leading professor of surgery. At first, William relishes the opportunity to extend his knowledge of plants and their healing properties while foraging in the countryside in the service of his new friend. The young couple’s relationship blossoms, until seeds of trouble threaten to grow out of control.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 539 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Saraband (1 Mar 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HBU20KA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #51,795 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I'm a novelist, playwright and short story writer: a 'hybrid' writer, both traditionally and independently published - and very happy with both arrangements.
I have more than 100 plays for radio, television and the stage to my name and still write the occasional stage play. I love the whole process of rehearsal and production.
But I love writing novels even more.
I live and work in rural Scotland, in a 200 year old stone-built cottage, which also happens to be a listed building. I write almost every day, but also spend part of each week dealing in antique textiles (which often find their way into my fiction!) I'm married to an artist and our grown up son designs video games and apps for a living - we're quite a creative family.
It would be nice to have 25 plus hours in a day, but I'll make do with what I've got. And I'm very happy indeed to talk about all aspects of my writing, from embroidery to Scottish history and historical research, from Ice Hockey to the idea of the 'grown up love story'. I'm also delighted to read at events of all kinds.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, moving and thought-provoking. 25 Mar 2013
By Bryher
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As with all of Catherine Czerkawska's books, I read her new novel The Physic Garden at a stretch, so strong was the story and so authentic the voice of the first person narrator. And then I spent days dwelling on it, and more weeks thinking about it before I felt able to put my thoughts in order for a review.

The description of the book says it all about why that is. The pivotal tragedy is so poignant, so personal, and yet so loaded with significance for our lives today that it is almost too much for this reader to bear. The novel is set in Scotland, at the turn of the 18-19th century. Its setting is the old college of Glasgow University and the Physic Garden, where William Lang, the narrator, is learning the craft of gardening from his father and the discipline of medical botany from his mentor, Thomas Brown. These two strike up a rare friendship, until betrayal tears it apart and changes the lives of them both for ever.

This novel is about such important things - research and curiosity and learning about the world. It is about a particular time and place - Scotland in the Enlightenment - when human knowledge was advancing so quickly, a time and place that fascinate me for all sorts of personal reasons. The discipline that engages both Thomas and William is that of medicine, and the passion to understand the working of the human body in order to bring about health and combat disease. There is a softer side to this discipline - that of botany and the understanding of medicinal herbs and their uses, and that becomes William's forte; and the darker side, the study of anatomy, with all the implications of working with the body of someone who once was a living breathing human being.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner with a Difference 22 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not a "page turner" in the sense that a fast-moving "who dun it" is but this is a thoughtful book, well characterised and, though perhaps a little dark at times, I found I could not put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good idea for a tale set in early 1800's Glasgow. The attention to period detail is excellent and the facts about weaving and plants and their uses are slotted in well. I enjoyed the plot and but the eventual reveal was a bit obvious and too long in arriving. I was getting pretty fed up with moroseness of the main character William Lang over his falling out with his boss and friend Thomas Brown. It was far too thickly laid on and lasted for the whole story. William's dislike of of anatomical research was also over done. Instead of sympathising with William I ended up thinking he was very dull and far too naive. It would have been better for being a lot shorter which is a shame as the author can certainly tell a good tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its best 5 Sep 2014
By AliB
Format:Paperback
It’s a great feeling when you fall in love with a book on the first page, or even the first line, and that’s what happened to me with The Physic Garden by Catherine Czerkawska. The voice is that of William Lang, speaking in 1802. But if the scene he describes is idyllic, we soon know that this is not to last. William, now an old man, is going to tell us how from this fine beginning, everything went wrong. In fact things are already going wrong, because the Physic Garden, owned by Glasgow University and where William will soon be head gardener, is already in decline, polluted by the expanding type foundry, trampled on by marauding students and largely ignored by a medical faculty hooked on the new science of anatomy. But amongst the professors there is one exception, Thomas Brown, a botany lecturer, with whom William strikes up an unlikely and life-changing friendship.
William’s story is an essentially private one of an old man seeing how in his younger days he was too naïve, but still cannot entirely regret that naivety. But as in the best historical fiction the individual becomes a prism through which we view the place and time in which he lived. We feel the pressures on a young man suddenly becoming the bread-winner for his large family, his anger at a feckless sister, his concern over a sickly child, his hero-worship of his fine new friend. On a wider scale we see his disquiet at the apparent supremacy of surgery over physiological remedies and the new forms of sickness and poverty arriving in the wake of industrialisation. We also glimpse the radicalism he will embrace in his later life.
But mostly this is a book about friendship and although the romance hinted at in the first line plays a part, William knows there are more enduring forms of love.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read with social and historical insights
Interesting account of the life of a gardener and historical social setting.
Published 3 days ago by organised
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely and haunting tale
If you want a fast read and a convoluted plot this book is not for you. However, if you like a slow and careful read, with evocative descriptions and a sense of time then this... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Vivirose
2.0 out of 5 stars Monotonous.
I only managed to get through half this book, before i had to give up! This is significant as i'm a very stubborn reader, in that if i've invested 50 pages i will finish the book... Read more
Published 19 days ago by littleblueboat
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing & Slow
I wanted to enjoy this book but found myself becoming bored by the old man's tendency to ramble on about anything and everything. It's very repetitive and required editing. Read more
Published 20 days ago by CaSundara
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read.
Published 1 month ago by dyslexia diva
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written book in which the author keeps you ...
A well written book in which the author keeps you hanging on till near the end before you find out what did happen two of the protagonists. Suspense with just a bit of frustration.
Published 1 month ago by John Maddock
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb!
Published 2 months ago by Mr. A. Von Ferscht
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but slow
I enjoyed the idea of the book, but found it too slow. Well written.
Published 2 months ago by L.R. Zimmerman
1.0 out of 5 stars A clunkingly obvious plot
The skipping back and forth in time is clunkily done, the friendship between the two main protagonists rings false, and the great big signposts highlighting the 'shocking twist'... Read more
Published 2 months ago by msditch
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel to savour
This seems to me to be about as nearly perfect as it is possible for a piece of story telling to be. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patience Skillings
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