Two women botanists, connected across time, confront desire, ambition, and the seeming inevitability of violence. A Mississippi woman pushes through the ruin of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. She has escaped her life, signed up to catalog all the species growing in this place. Crawling along the stones, she wonders how she has landed here: she hunts for a scientific agenda and a direction of her own. In 1854, a woman pushes through the jungle of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. As punishment for her misbehavior, she has been indentured to the English botanist Richard Deakin, for whom she will compile a flora. She is a thief, and she must find new ways to use her hands. If only the woman she loves weren't on a boat, with a husband. But love isn't always possible.
Through their observant, witty accounts, the protagonists contend with potential romantic partnerships and family pressures while pursuing achievements in male-dominated spaces. Any concern that the structural concept could overshadow the plot is dispelled; in fact, Smith’s novel exemplifies the importance of combining science and storytelling. Erudite, playful, and filled with fury about gender inequality, this can be recommended to readers of cli-fi and feminist literary fiction.
The novel moves in quick (and often blurry) shifts between these centuries and women. They mirror parts of each other ... The Weeds requests the reader to observe and look for connections, to question structures and patterns, and to discover new ways of seeing. Each detail is carefully attuned and revealed, and each seed opens at the moment it needs to bloom and stretch. Patience is necessary, but close attention reveals infinite rewards.