Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery
- Publisher:Unbound Digital (18 April 2019)
In 1850, young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey was despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly prized exotic trees in North America. An early letter home told of a 1,200-mile transcontinental journey by small boat and on foot. Later, tantalising collections of seeds and plants arrived from British Columbia, Oregon and California, yet early promise soon withered. Four years after setting out, John Jeffrey, and his journals, disappeared without a trace. Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? Green Gold combines meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals, revealing an extraordinary adventure.
There are two timelines in this fascination novel: the modern-day, when an intern researcher at the Arnold Arboretum, Helen, is given the job of sorting through a large chest of papers and journals, and the 1850s when we either travel with John Jeffrey through the pages of his journal or read correspondence to or from him, or concerning him. This novel thus encompasses three literary styles – first person narrative, third person narrative and epistolary – all of which the author handles very skilfully and convincingly.
Essentially, author Gabriel Hemery has provided us with his version of the missing journals of the young Botanist John Jeffrey. He has used extant factual historical documents on which to base his creation. He has totally succeeded in conjuring up for us a convincing human being, with flaws as well as many strengths. We see John’s emotional and personal side as well as his crisp, efficient, academic one.
The author excellently captures both time periods that he portrays. Small details and sharp observations make the settings very real, as does the language used. The novel is thus very atmospheric.
If you have any interest at all in botany or the Victorian era – but quite frankly even if you don’t, since it’s such an enjoyable read! – you will thoroughly this intriguing and elucidating novel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabriel Hemery is an author, tree photographer and forest scientist.
Books by Gabriel Hemery:
GREEN GOLD: THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF VICTORIAN PLANT HUNTER JOHN JEFFREY,
is a fictional biography, combining meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals. Publishing with Unbound in spring 2019.
THE NEW SYLVA: A DISCOURSE OF FOREST & ORCHARD TREES FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, was published to wide acclaim by Bloomsbury in 2014. Its 400 pages feature more than 100 tree species, accompanied by 200 specially commissioned pen and ink drawings made by Sarah Simblet. Its publication coincided with the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s Sylva (1664).
Excellently Produced Masterpiece – Beautiful book and very well produced. A worthy successor to the original work that inspired this volume. *****
Five Stars – Beautiful! I brought this as a gift for someone who works in the tree industry and they absolutely love it! *****
DON’T LOOK BACK featured as a short story in the woodland anthology, ARBOREAL, published by Little Toller Books in 2016.
Gabriel Hemery co-founded Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity, and writes a popular tree and forestry blog. He lives near Oxford in England.
Twitter : @GabrielHemery