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The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas

Characters that all have plant names. Subject matter that make you feel all grown up. Writing that feels stellar, yet confusing at the same time. Perhaps The Seed Collectors is a book that was meant to be something different to every reader. 

Topics such as love, sex, affairs, are discussed in everyday conversations in a perfunctory fashion. There’s a lot of talk about sex. It’s in your face, and concurrently broaches taboos such as incest, illegitimate offspring, adultery…you name it, Scarlett Thomas has gone there. There is a piercing honesty to the book that makes you gasp, yet it makes it relatable, especially if you’ve grown up with the bold crass British humour. 

But The Seed Collectors is a complex read. Starting off with the death of Great Aunt Oleander, the story takes you on a family adventure. One by one secrets are revealed, rivalries are formed, and it seems to meander back to sex. Now you see why I made that earlier comment about the book making you feel “all grown up”. From the direct conversations about sex to the metaphorical references to the sex of plants…fertility, seeds, and other things that I’d refrain from mentioning on this blog -- there is an overload of sexualized prose. 

The story is bizarre. A generation of the family is lost, presumably to a plant-based overdose, while on a seed collecting expedition to the South Pacific. Great Aunt Oleander has left each of her nearest and dearest one of these precious, possibly deadly seed pods. 

Of course, there is still the case of the inheritance in questions. Why did Great Aunt Oleander leave Namaste House to Fleur, the half sister. And, who is her mother? 

The novel is offbeat, to say the very least. After reading The Seed Collectors, I really wasn’t sure how to rate the novel. I enjoyed the writing. Scarlett Thomas has an incredible grasp of language that is unsually obsessive. It’s akin to passing a train wreck…you have to keep on reading. But, would I recommend it? The answer is an unreserved yes, because you've got to read it to form your own opinion. 

Books & Wine Pairing: Scarlett Thomas' The Seed Collectors is an acquired taste. That's why we paired it with Fonseca Porto Bin No. 27. For those who love a port, this deep purple port, infuses a strong aroma of dried fruit, plum and spice box on the palette. A sweet full-bodied port that oozes of rich spicy berries and undertones of chocolate, figs and plum. It's got a long finish; something very similar to the feeling you get when you read The Seed Collectors

Fonseca Bin No.27 Reserve Porto 


 (Available at LCBO #: 325506 | $17.15 per 750 ml bottle). 
For more wine pairings visit


The Seed Collectors is published by Soft Skull Press, and distributed in Canada by PGC Books. 

Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative and Social Media strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog:, as well as a lifestyle blog: T: @SukasaStyle) 

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