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The Physic Garden [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Czerkawska
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £3.79 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book 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.

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Product Description


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

About the Author

Catherine Czerkawska is a novelist and playwright based in Scotland. She has written several plays for the stage and BBC Radio 4, and has published numerous short stories and novels, including The Curiosity Cabinet, which was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 711 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:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,633 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
36 of 38 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely and haunting tale 12 Sept. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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 will suit you well. I loved it and it may be that although it speaks of the passions of youth it suits sightly older readers better - perhaps because the blood is not as hot.
I also think the writer describes the miseries of trying to survive with little money and few opportunities in an historical context really well. The characters are well-drawn and I felt they were three-dimensional and their actions understandable. Whilst reading the book and on completion, the story and narrator's words lingered with me and I felt I had inhabited that world for a short time. This, to me, is the sign of a good book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this story – it’s a novel born from a ‘Slow Cooker’! The components sit together, begin to mature together and create a wonderful reflection on the life of William Lang. I am a passionate biologist and now a herbalist in later years so this story is personally relevant. This historical, political and very personal perspective of William, the narrator’s life, was fascinating with richly drawn characters. It is a fascinating look at the history of medicine – and so much more. It’s a novel that you find yourself a part of for a short period … and that is what makes a good story, for me. Above all else this novel has ‘Soul’… And I found myself asking … what has changed?
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3 of 3 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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10 of 12 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It is not a difficult novel to read.
Published 1 month ago by S F Canfield
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise, but better history than novel
I liked the premise of this, ad it had the added bonus of being set in Glasgow University (my alma mater) so it was of personal interest. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jolene
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Another good read from Catherine Czerkawska
Published 3 months ago by Dons83
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent, unusual read.
Published 3 months ago by Ms Anne Brodie
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much growing in this garden.
Would have made an excellent short story but not a novel. Too slow and repetitive for my taste.
Published 3 months ago by Rosebud
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A most interesting story for someone like me, who has been interested in Herbs,
and grown them for years.
Published 3 months ago by Barbara M Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars A step back in time!
Interesting approach!
Published 3 months ago by Eileen Peebles
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual book.
I was not sure at first, and to be honest I nearly gave up! But suddenly I got in to it, and then just had to see what happened, I loved the descriptions, it was unusual, and I... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Elizabeth Owens
5.0 out of 5 stars It's one of those 'must' reads
On opening Catherine Czerkawska's historical novel, The Physic Garden, I know immediately that I will have to plan ahead and read it chapter by chapter because it is so beautifully... Read more
Published 4 months ago by ireneintheworld
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written as the main character remembers the story
Beautifully written as the main character remembers the story, sidetracking every now and then with new material so it is not a straight forward read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Ryan
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