Why did I love this book?
What a thoughtful, mysterious, magical, dark, and satisfying book. A great mix of history and travel memoir. Ecott details the deep myths circulating around vanilla and orchids in general over the past few centuries. He performed amazing on-the-ground research on the island of Reunion (off the coast of Madagascar), piecing together the real history of the first person to hand-pollinate the vanilla orchid, an enslaved boy named Edmund Albius. I found his story both soul-wrenching and an index to the possible lives of enslaved people we have no record of.