An acclaimed nature writer reveals the secret life of flowers. In Anatomy of a Rose, Sharman Apt Russell eloquently unveils the "inner life" of flowers. From their diverse fragrances to their nasty deceptions, Russell proves that, where nature is concerned, 'wonder is not only our starting point, it can also be our destination.' Throughout this botanical journey, she reveals that the science behind these intelligent plants - how they evolved, how they survive, how they heal - is even more awe-inspiring than their fleeting beauty. Russell helps us imagine what a field of snapdragons looks like to a honeybee, and she introduces us to flowers that regulate their own temperature, attract pollinating bats, even smell like a rotting corpse. She also delves into cutting-edge research on everything from flower senses to their healing power. Long used to ease everything from depression to childbirth, flowers are now our main line of defence against childhood leukaemia and the deadly Ebola virus. In this wonderful book, which combines graceful writing with a scientist's clarity, Russell brings together the work of botanists around the globe, and illuminates a world at once familiar and exoti
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(199mm x 130mm x 15mm)
Arrow Books Ltd
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UK Kirkus Review »
Anatomy of a Rose is a book that's simply unclassifiable. Part popular science, part prose poem, part memoir, Russell's account of the real lives of flowers will be intriguing even to those who slept through explanations of photosynthesis during school biology lessons. Each chapter describes a different aspect of the life and behaviour - Russell sees plants as active, not passive beings - of flowers. She looks at their sex life, their perfumes, their history and their survival strategies. Plants are unashamedly described in terms of human behaviour: 'Flowers engage in what can only be called rough sex' or 'Even the 'nicest' flower can turn suddenly ruthless.' The effect is startling - some might find it irritating - but it is nonetheless illuminating. The anatomical explanations themselves are crystal clear. Part of the book's charm is its relish for unusual facts. There is so much in here that is surprising to the layman: the fact that bees, pollinating a flower, don't necessarily see the same colours as humans; that some flowers mimic the appearance of other species to deceive insects; that many of the botanical classifications used in naming flowers are incorrect; that the oldest living flower is the amborella, found on a single island in the South Pacific. Russell is enchanted by her subject. Her love of flowers is apparent in every sentence. Daisies are 'the color of egg yolk, their petals a soft, milky white.' The flowers of the cereus cactus are a 'silky, many-petaled star, with a musky, sweet smell.' Even if you occasionally find the anthropomorphism a little overdone, you can't help but be seduced by Russell's love of flowers. The beautiful, clear illustrations by Gabriel Sempill are a perfect complement to the book's sensual style. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Sharman Apt Russell
Sharman Apt Russell is the author of three previous books, on the American West, none (understandably) published in the UK. She teaches writing at Western New Mexico University.