Sonia Day has a green thumb and a knack with words, but who knew she wrote, well, raunchy stuff?
Her most recent book, The Untamed Garden: A Revealing Look at our Love Affair with Plants, is about sex ... lots and lots of sex.
So much sex, in fact, that the book cover comes with a “plain brown wrapper” that hides a famous painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema of a Roman orgy scene called The Roses of Heliogabalus (1888).
On Monday, Sonia — who I’ve known for more years than I care to admit — won a gold medal for the Best Overall Product from the Gardens Writers Association during their annual award gala in Tucson, Ariz. for her book, beating out 250 other entries, including books, magazines, newspapers, electronic media and trade publications.
The book, published by McClelland & Stewart, had already been named the silver winner for Best Book.
“It was a great thrill to win the fold, as virtually all the 250 entries I was competing against were from the U.S.
“The book is about our sexual relationship with plants,” Sonia told me by email. “Perhaps that’s why it won! It’s not a how-to gardening book; I think people are getting sick of those. I was inspired to write it because I wanted to shake things up a bit. It bothers me that gardeners have an image of being boring old codgers. (It isn't true. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met love growing plants.)
“I gathered together all kinds of sexy tales from legends, botany and myths — running through the raunchy Romans and Greeks to the staid Victorians.”
The stories in Sonia’s book are told through the arc of a love affair — starting with Innocence (the Madonna lily) moving on to lust (orchids) and ending with devotion (the Coco de Mer, a kind of coconut from the Seychelles; "surely the most salacious thing on the planet — it looks like a woman’s bottom,” Sonia says).
I have to admit, it’s one of the sexiest things I’ve read in a long time (and that includes the Fifty Shades of Grey, which was a real turn off).
Way to go Sonia!
BTW, The Untamed Garden ($26.99) is available at all major bookstores and online at indigo.ca.
The book cover's brown paper wrapper and, below, the full painting.