PASSION and betrayal are bedfellows, sometimes welcome sometimes not. Jacqui L’Ange’s debut novel, The Seed Thief, is their story.Cape Town botanist Maddy Bellani is sent to Brazil, where she was born, to retrieve the seeds of a tree, Newbouldia mundii. Originally from West Africa, where they are now extinct, the trees harbour a possible cure for some cancers. There are rumours that there is a stand of the trees on land belonging to a Candomblé community — Candomblé is a syncretic religion developed from the West African religion of some of the world’s most horribly betrayed people: slaves.Maddy must convince the Candomblé to let her take enough seeds to provide a batch to the international seed bank at London’s Kew Gardens, and another to SA’s Kirstenbosch. Her mission is made more urgent, and emotive, because her boss Kirk is watching his wife waste away with a cancer that might be cured by the trees, her arrival in Brazil is poignant because her estranged father lives there.Detai...

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