Edinburgh author wins Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2022 award

Highly-acclaimed Capital author says “it’s an honour” to win the prestigious annual book award

The Fair Botanists, by Edinburgh-based novelist Sara Sheridan, has been announced as Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2022.

Suffused with the heady aroma of Enlightenment Edinburgh, the acclaimed author’s vibrant historical novel centres on the city's enticing Royal Botanic Gardens and on two fascinating women who are drawn there when a rare plant looks set to flower – an event that only occurs once every few decades.

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Sheridan is a novelist and activist based in the Capital and has been named one of the Saltire Society’s 365 most influential Scottish women past and present.

The Fair Botanists by Edinburgh-based novelist Sara Sheridan has been announced as Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2022.

Speaking of her delight at winning the award, the 54-year-old said “It’s an honour to have my book chosen as Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year.

“To set a novel in my hometown of Edinburgh in a historical period about which I’m passionate, and receive such a wonderful response from booksellers and readers alike truly is this writer's dream. I want to thank passionate Waterstones booksellers across the country who have made this possible.

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“I appreciate what you’ve done for my story and want to thank you for this award.”

The opening scenes of the novel were inspired by a remarkable real event which took place between 1820 and 1823 when the collection of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was painstakingly moved from its former home at Leith Walk to Inverleith.

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Just as in real life, the novel describes the Garden’s many trees, plants, flowers, aloes and cacti being transported slowly through Edinburgh’s streets to the wonder and amazement of the watching public.

Angie Crawford, Waterstones Scottish Buyer, said: “A sensuous novel that simmers with intrigue and scandal, the moment The Fair Botanists fell into our bookselling hands we knew we had something very special.

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“Set in 19th Century Edinburgh, Sara Sheridan expertly fuses history and prose into storytelling of the highest order.

We are ecstatic to announce The Fair Botanists as Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2022.”

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James, of Waterstones’ Kirkcaldy branch, said: “The Fair Botanists is a quintessentially Scottish book. To read this book is to get lost in an intoxicating and joyous blend of the vibrant peoples and cultures, told as only Sara Sheridan can.

“Set against the backdrop of George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1922 and the re-opening of the Royal Botanical Garden, it’s a delirious portrait of the Old and New cities, the rich and the poor, and, of course, a love letter to the power of friendship, the promises of romance, and strong independent women who overcome adversity to define their times.

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“This is exemplified by Belle Brodie, glamorous sex worker, budding alchemist, fiercely ambitious, daring, capable, cunning, worldly-wise, and utterly fearless. It is an absolute pleasure to spend time in her company.

She mixes her perfumes and scents as surely as Sara Sheridan does her plots and genres. This is a book to treasure and to share, and a richly deserving winner of the Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year.”

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Waterstones is offering a special edition of The Fair Botanists, containing exclusive extra content.

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Sara Sheridan to give talk on Edinburgh-set historical novel at the Botanics