The freakish death of amateur naturalist Walter Ash does not halt the plans he has put into place for what was to be his second journey up the Amazon. Instead, his intentions are honoured by his wife Iris, her maid Rachel and Walter’s son Paul by continuing on with the journey to Para, Brazil to collect specimens.
It is along this expedition in 1867 that we learn of Walter’s first love and marriage to a local Brazilian woman who died while giving birth to Paul.
Devastated by the loss, Walter returned home to Philadelphia with his infant son and eventually met and married the wealthy Iris, who shared an interest in nature. But it is the Quaker Rachel who offers the most intrigue with her intense passion for science and insatiable quest for knowledge in the field. It is Rachel we come to understand who will be the one to carry on with Walter’s life’s work.