Book review: The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse


The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse (first published in 2018 by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan)

It started with a bog violet. Dove remembers an epic journey of travelling across the world in search of rare flowers, spurred by an unlikely love letter of unknown origin. 

Deciding to throw caution to the wind and escape a sedentary and lonely lifestyle, the hunt spans various countries, and is fraught with danger, adventure, beauty and love.
All the while, he’s working through a bucket list of once-in-a-lifetime blooms. The only problem is that these memories do not belong to Dove; in fact, he’s never been out of the country, and knows little to nothing about flowers.

Dove is a 30-something orphan who’s never considered himself remarkable. While he never knew the story of his birth, or his parents, he secretly attributes his various faults and shortcomings to the faceless pair. 

All he has of them is his unusual name, the origins of which are as much a mystery as the couple who bequeathed it to him. Yet when he starts experiencing another person’s memories, Dove can’t help wonder at the connection, and what it means to his own past.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to do that in this case. David Whitehouse has truly presented a superb work of art through The Long Forgotten, both inside and out. An intricate and completely refreshing story is woven into a polished, easy to read narrative that is mesmerising. 

Apart from poetic prose and breath-taking imagery, Whitehouse has created characters that are unconventional and display enormous depth. The result is a marvelous experience that is moving, inspiring, and at times melancholic.

Through a many-country race to see the plant kingdom’s finest and rarest offerings, the world of The Long Forgotten is as large and welcoming as it is magical. Perhaps as a student of botany I am biased, but I enjoyed the journey in search of unusual flora immensely. 

Whitehouse’s clever marriage of Mother Nature and the more destructive human nature makes for an underlying tension that creeps gracefully into the emotional aura of the story. This book is superb.

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Read more of Samantha’s reviews on her book blog and check out her Instagram account.

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