Published in The Victoria Standard – Vol. 20, No. 21 – Nov. 25 to Dec. 8, 2013
SEEDS is book number six from award winning author, Douglas Arthur Brown. It is not for the faint of heart. Here is a story of love, abandonment, regret, family, redemption, and heartbreak, told with such honesty, it will leave you breathless.
The main character, Aphra Abrams, is a wealthy widow, and world famous horticulturist, with a long-running TV show on the BBC. She is on the verge of retirement. She seeks out the daughter she gave up for adoption fifty years ago, a child no one knows about except her trusted assistant and confidante, Hada. Their stories cross continents from Canada to England to France, even into the deserts of Niger (where Hada is from) against the backdrop of some of the most fabulous gardens in the world. Caroline, Aphra’s daughter, believes she has a brother, a man named Somer. The two were raised together from tiny children in orphanages and foster homes, at times under deplorable conditions. There are things between them that bond them together but also threaten to tear them apart. Is ‘happily ever after’ even possible?
“During your lives, false prophets will tempt each of you,” she said, “promising you riches, gratification, and other indulgences without toil, pain, or dispute. Happily ever after. Do not be tempted by these three wicked words. A life of happily ever after is a deception lasting only until the next story begins.”
This book is lush with rare and familiar flora. There is no mistaking Brown’s knowledge of the world of horticulture but this is not mere window dressing. The gardens play an integral part in the drama that is Seeds, a beautiful and deeply intimate story of personal longing, hope, relationships, and reality.
The language is rich and exotic. There are no wasted words. Page after page, the story pulls you forward. This book is a work of art filled with vibrant colours and movement, like a painting you fall in love with, even before you’re certain what it’s about. But you had better be paying attention, because Brown changes direction like a race car driver. Present day, flash back, present day again, sometimes within a single sentence. One of the striking features of this writing is the knowledge the author holds. Brown’s characters move confidently through TV studios, oil rigs in Alaska, the sands of the desert, and monasteries, their reactions to their surroundings and each other as real as if they truly existed. Brown imparts a level of understanding, through the emotions of his characters, that is completely convincing. He doesn’t pull any punches. Here is a writer who knows what he’s doing.
Douglas Arthur Brown’s previous novel, Quintet, won the Thomas Head Raddall Fiction Award, Atlantic Canada’s most prestigious honour. His short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and magazines across Canada and overseas. He was awarded an Established Artist Recognition Award by the province of Nova Scotia and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to Canadian culture.
Douglas Arthur Brown also owns a publishing company, Boularderie Island Press, which recently released a collected works from the Boularderie Island Writers Institute, Thirteen Ways From Sunday. His website is at DouglasArthurBrown.com