a new novel by Alissa York
Set in the time when Darwin was reshaping the world and a new breed of explorer-hero possessed the popular imagination, The Naturalist is a spellbinding tale of loss, discovery and love.
1867, Philadelphia. Amateur naturalist Walter Ash is on the brink of a long-awaited return expedition to the Amazon when he dies in an accident, obliging his only son to take his place. More at ease among his books than in the field, Paul Ash takes a reluctant leave of absence from Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology to accompany his grieving stepmother and her young companion to the fabled River Sea. Paul holds no memory of the place—he was an infant when his father carried him out of the jungle and away from the family he might have known—but neither the region nor its people have forgotten him. While the Amazon lays claim to Paul in no uncertain terms, it works a peculiar magic on both his father’s lovely widow and her friend—a quiet little Quaker named Rachel Weaver who proves to be the true naturalist and heir to Walter Ash.