The Seed Woman by Petra Durst-Benning (translated by Edwin Miles) is the first book of the Seed Trader’s Saga. Set in Gonningen, a village in the Swabian Mountains of Germany where seed trading is the main source of income for its residents in the 1850s. A young woman, Hannah Brettschneider, travels from Nuremberg to find Helmut Kerner, the eldest son of the wealthy Kerner family. She’s pregnant and Helmut is the father. Problem? He’s engaged to be married to Seraphine Schwarz. Helmut quickly marries Hannah and eventually Valentin, his brother, marries Seraphine as he has long loved her despite her affections for his brother. As everyone lives under one roof, jealousy and manipulations begin as the brothers plan to expand their business into other regions. Hannah begins to show interest in the seed trade and offer new ways to conduct business. Will they listen to Hannah, an outsider, and try her new methods? Will the business flourish?
I labored through this book. Pushing myself to finish it. I made it through 60% of the book when a particular scene made me stop. It would so disturbing and unsettling that I didn’t want to continue. I realized that I didn’t care about the characters, especially Seraphine who was a bitch as she treats Valentin horribly and plots to worm her way back into Helmut’s heart, who didn’t love her in the first place and saw Hannah’s arrival as a blessing in disguise. The details of the regions and the seed trade are extensive and beautiful. I liked Hannah as the hardworking outsider who shows the village that there are other ways to do things. And she was the only character I liked. I do not recommend The Seed Woman. It is one of those historical novels where the historical details are extensive with very little or unexciting action.
The Seed Woman
is available in paperback and eBook