This is a thrillingly original novel that charts the heritage, life and adventures of Alma Whittaker. Born in Philadelphia in 1800, Alma lives a privileged and sheltered life until events compel her to sacrifice everything to travel to Tahiti in her fifties, before settling in Amsterdam and working as a skilled botanist into old age. This is definitely a long and sweeping saga, but Alma’s character is so unusual and brilliantly conceived that the reader is compulsively drawn into her world and willingly joins her on this epic journey.
Alma’s life is defined by exploration, scientific discovery, and her father’s legacy, yet it is his determination and eccentricity that gives Alma the survival skills she needs to overcome the disappointments in her life. It’s not her thirst for academic recognition that finally forces her to leave the security of her home but her longing for something less tangible; for love and a deeper understanding of her place in the world.