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The Seed Collectors

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,816 ratings  ·  308 reviews
Great Aunt Oleander is dead. To each of her nearest and dearest she has left a seed pod. The seed pods might be deadly, but then again they might also contain the secret of enlightenment. Not that anyone has much time for enlightenment. Fleur, left behind at the crumbling Namaste House, must step into Oleander’s role as guru to lost and lonely celebrities. Bryony wants to ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by Canongate
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3.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,816 ratings  ·  308 reviews

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Updated review, 22 June 2015:

Back in January, I wrote on my blog of The Seed Collectors, 'if this lets me down, I may as well give up reading'. Well, this is awkward. And very disappointing, obviously.

A bit of context before I start talking about this particular book. Scarlett Thomas's Our Tragic Universe is one of my favourite novels, and made the author one of my favourite novelists. With the exception of one early, out-of-print mystery (which I own a copy of), I have read everything else sh
(3.5)I have no idea why everyone thinks nature is so benign and glorious and wonderful. All nature is trying to do is kill us as efficiently as possible.”

This offbeat novel about obsession, sex and inheritance is set in Kent in 2011 and stars an extended family of botanists. The concept of a family tree has a more than usually literal meaning here given the shared surname is Gardener and most members are named after plants. We have Great-Aunt Oleander, recently deceased; cousin Bryony and her
Sian Lile-Pastore
Aug 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Have loved Scarlett Thomas's other books, but this one was a big fat struggle for me. Not sure what was going on here - some interesting ideas (lots of yoga stuff which I'm all over like a rash) , but such obnoxious characters (and so many of them) and people saying amazeballs... Like someone else said on here - are we meant to be annoyed? Are we meant to hate the characters? Is it some weird satire?
Reading it was like listening to some awful radio 4 play full of posh people.
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it
--3.5 stars--Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a free ARC copy in return for an honest review--

Two things about this book:

1) I found it really engrossing and difficult to put down
2) There were lots of things about it which REALLY annoyed me (including the deeply disappointing ending)

The book follows members of a family dynasty as they come to terms with the loss of one of their matriarchs and try to navigate the various perils of middle-class 21st century existence. There is a broad an
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book begins with the death of Great Aunt Oleander, who ran a retreat centre called Namaste House, mostly for celebrities. The members of this sprawling, secretive family, all take plant names if they do not keep the family name of Gardener. At the heart of the family secrets are Grace, Plum and the legendary Briar Rose, who disappeared on the trail of a miracle plant; deadly seed pods. Left behind are Fleur (daughter of Briar Rose), who must step into Great Aunt Oleander’s shoes, Bryony, wh ...more
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think perhaps Scarlett Thomas is not for everyone but she is definitely for me! A few years ago I read Our Tragic Universe and fell in love.

Five generations of the Gardener family, botanists and spiritual seekers, are harboring some tragedy and many secrets. When Great Aunt Oleander, of the second generation, dies and leaves a rare and precious seed pod to each of her descendants, the family begins to fracture. Not that there was a lack of trouble while Oleander lived, but as we know from man
Maya Panika
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is Scarlett Thomas’ best novel yet. The Seed Collectors is compulsively readable, tremendously enjoyable, a more natural read than her previous works. The mystical-physics meshes more naturally with life as we know it than in her previous novels. The quantum, the mystical, the magical is still there, in the forms of a rare, deadly poisonous seed pod that brings instant enlightenment and/or death, even to birds, a strange book that changes to fit the circumstances of whoever is reading it, a ...more
Jul 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
I loved The End Of Mr Y but Scarlett Thomas's latest novel has left me entirely cold. The story features a family of famous botanists, the older generation of which disappeared on a hunt for a miracle plant. The plot revolves around a series of moments in their lives after the death of the surviving family matriarch.

The trouble is, it's almost completely unreadable. There are umpteen characters and they're impossible to tell apart because they aren't properly described or differentiated. They'r
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Recently I read The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh, which asks why literary fiction has become so fixated on human relationships above all else that our relationship with nature, and specifically climate change, goes unexamined. Here is a classic case of a novel that could easily have engaged with the human-nature dynamic, in fact I assumed it would from the blurb, but instead largely dwelt on family melodrama and marital infidelity. Consequently I was disa ...more
An oddball of a book. Aunt Oleander dies, and the family come together to reminisce. Close family members are bequeathed a seed pod with family secrets. It seems to be about so much - inheritance, horticulture, sex and family and societal dysfunctionality. There are facts about plants and it is fascinating to see the world through the perspective of plants. This is a strange book with obnoxious characters, interspersed with the odd philosophical ruminations, and a disjointed narrative. Uncertain ...more
Book Riot Community
It sounds like a strange thing to say out loud, but I felt really grown up while reading this book. It’s a fantastic, weird novel about love, sex, yoga, botany, and more. The characters say and do questionable (sometimes even unacceptable) things – I yelled out loud at them more than once – but they always do what feels real to them, and that human side is what makes book tick. It’s truly an original delight.

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://b
T.D. Whittle
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
As another reviewer, Judy, has said: "I think perhaps Scarlett Thomas is not for everyone but she is definitely for me!" To that I say, "Me, too!" The Seed Collectors is full of characters that make you laugh and cringe and almost toss your book across the room (if one were the sort of reader who can bear to toss books across rooms, which I am not except for crap ones). I won't bother with a synopsis because you can read that at the top of the Goodreads page, but I will say what works for me abo ...more
Do you know when a character in a story is so horrible you can't even bother with what happens to her, or him, in the end? Now imagine that all the characters in a book are horrible. What's more, that story doesn't actually have a plot, but is a jumble of ideas, and thoughts, and views, of said horrible characters.

That's what The Seed Collectors was to me. There was not one single character I could like, or, at least, warm up to. I never thought this was even possible. Ok, so I don't like charac
Marc Nash
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't know much about horticulture and plants, but I do know you can shape and constrict growth of bonsai trees and in a way although the book's central plant is an orchid, the shaping of a bonsai is to my mind the most illustrative metaphor I can come up with; for there is a family tree at the start of the book and then an amended one at its end when all the family secrets of paternity are finally out. So the family tree is reshaped free of all the constrictions borne by its members while the ...more
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
На 90% книги мне очень, очень хотелось, чтобы она не кончалась. Нормальный крепкий такой роман о всяких разных людях, я б и ещё столько же почитала про них. Бриония, конечно, моя любимица.
Rosaria Sgarlata

Guardate attentamente questa cover e non ditemi che non vi solletica la mente. Non vi incuriosisce nemmeno un po'? Beh quando l'ho vista io, mesi or sono, ho deciso che sarebbe dovuto essere mio. E così è stato. Ho avuto l'opportunità di leggerlo in occasione di una delle tappe della Trivial Pursuit Reading Challenge ma ahimè anche in questo caso si è trattato solo di una bella cover.

Nella famiglia Gardener si ha l'usanza di chiamare figli e nipoti con nomi di piante. Così ci troviamo Oleander,

"The Seed Collectors" by Scarlett Thomas
Rating: 2.5/3

The book is divided into 6 sections: Funeral --> Holly's Friendship Tree --> The Outer Hebrides --> Triathalon --> Fruit. I liked that these are bookended by a Family Tree Diagram, then a revised one.

General themes:
*Botany, particularly flowers. Specifically, that the difference between fauna and flora is less than we might believe.
*Family & Inheritance (Family Tree included, a generational saga)
* Enlightenment (defined a
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Things I hate reading about:
- incest
- also incest
- whiny rich people who whine about money
- whiny rich people with ~status
- whiny rich people
- incest
- needlessly weird/fantastical elements
- disconnected & purposeless narratives
- bullshit philosophy
- incest

Scarlett Thomas is increasingly a hit/miss author for me. There were times I had to double-check the cover to be sure she had written this book -- the soft, sweeping, engaging worlds of The End of Mr Y and Our Tragic Universe are nowhere to
Ashley McCurry
Oct 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
If I could give this zero stars, I would. This book does not fit the description given at all. I can't believe Neil Gaiman gave this a good review. Normally, there's at least one character you will like in a book. Or, at least the book has a plot. This book has neither. It's just disjointed ramblings that bounce between the "book" and the author speaking directly to you trying to sound insightful. There's no real story. It's just ramblings of an incestuous family.
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Simply the very best book I have read this year. And this was the year in which there were 2 new Margaret Atwoods to read and in which I finally read Life of Pi. Spellbindingly, thought-forcingly awesome.
Dec 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family
I gave up on Page 91, not something I do very often, but I couldn't bear to go on. Too much swearing, characters have no redeeming qualities and the plot didn't grab my attention at all.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
noioso ed inutile. Scarlett Thomas è sempre stata una delle mie autrici preferite, ho letto tutto quello che è stato tradotto in italiano. Questo potevo anche non leggerlo.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tra tutti i libri di Scarlett Thomas è quello più noioso e scialbo. pochi lampi in mezzo a un mare di parole.
David Harris
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm grateful to the publisher and author for letting me have advance copy of this book . I'd been anticipating it for ages - I think Scarlett Thomas blogged the title at least three years ago.

And the wait was worthwhile. While I would happily read a telephone directory authored by Thomas simply for the writing, "The Seed Collectors" is an extremely absorbing, readable book, funny in places, sad in places (sometimes the same ones). Above all it is perceptive, and deeply human.

The story moves betw
J.T. Wilson
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
So the kudzu plant is a vine-like plant which sprawls in all manner of directions and ultimately attempts to choke the nearest plants, depriving them of light and air in order to sprawl further. The kudzu plot, named after the plant, grows in many different ways at once, creating more and more narrative threads until the chance of them pulling together seems nigh-on impossible.

'The Seed Collectors' marks the first time Scarlett Thomas has written third-person narration since coming to national p
Steffi ~mereadingbooks~
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it

[This is just me trying to make sense of what I read. If you want to know what this book is about you probably won’t get much out of my review. Sorry.]

This is going to be a tough one. I love Scarlett Thomas’ style. The way she can make a narrative run along so smoothly you don’t even notice all the information she’s feeding you; the way she can make pages and pages of conversation so authentic and interesting. She regularly creates characters and scenes that simply speak to me and she always inc
Venus Maneater
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, faves
I loved it! The first 200 pages or so (which sounds awefully long, but you're through it in no time at all) reads just like any other mystery/general fiction novel, but with lots and lots of different plants and a LOT of rich white people problems because there are just a LOT of people in this book. I used the family tree a few times to refresh my memories, but all of them kinda grow on you.
Anyways, because there are a million characters, there is also a lot of (good) food, (mediocre) sex and ug
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have such mixed feelings about this book... First of all the cover and the blurb got me super exited to read this book so I had pretty high expectations upon starting it. Then, from the first twenty or so pages I read I figured out that this book was, sadly, not going to be very enjoyable for me. It then took me another 50 pages to find out exactly what was bothering me, but in the end I found out.

What was bothering me so much about this novel were the characters. All characters, I feel, were
Christina Zolotarova
первые процентов 70 это была "поистине увлекательная история, с кучей ботаники и всего такого", а потом в тексте стало слишком много той скарлетт томас, которая меня бесила в "наваждении люмаса". но в целом, эта ее книга мне, пожалуй, понравилась. запутанная семейная история, повсеместные цветочки/растения (от ботанических имен до загадочных стручков с семенами, которые дарят просветление), секс, смерть и винишко. найс.
Olga Lukinskaya
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, fiction
Интересненько, и атмосфера напоминает время от времени о моих путешествиях - сколько этих "намастэ хаусов", где занимаются йогой и курят траву, я видела в Латамерике и в Индии! Но очень трудно запомнить, кто кому кем приходится.
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publication date 6 20 Apr 16, 2015 06:37AM  
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Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. Her widely-acclaimed novels include PopCo, The End of Mr Y and The Seed Collectors. As well as writing literary fiction for adults, she has also written a literary fantasy series for children and a book about writing called Monkeys with Typewriters. Her work has been translated into more than 25 languages.

She has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, sh
“Somewhere in the world there is a magical book. What does this book do? It simply changes itself to become the book you most need at this point in your life.” 2 likes
“The clue's always, always, buried deep in the boredom...

Where do you feel most bored? Go there.”
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