In contemporary Paris, Nancy Roach is fed up with her flagging dissertation research and flees to the English countryside to escape the mounting pressure from her dissertation advisor. There, she stumbles upon an illustration of "The Parasol Flower" in a nineteenth-century treatise, which draws her into the life of Hannah Inglis, a talented artist who slipped out of art history and into the Malaysian wilderness. Working from Hannah's letters and a cache of paintings, Nancy attempts to reconstruct a pivotal year in Hannah's life. The year is 1896 and Hannah Inglis, a painter, is pushing back against her husband and their circle of ex-patriot friends in British Malaysia, who see her art as an uncivilizing influence. She finds support from two unlikely sources--the intimidating Eva Peterborough, an evolutionary biologist, and the Sikh police sergeant Darshan Singh who assists on treks to paint en plein air. With their help, she embarks on a search for a rare and legendary specimen--a flower that blooms as big as a lady's parasol. The Parasol Flower traces the borders of science, art, race, and class and establishes new boundaries.
Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, Karen Quevillon draws her inspiration from nature, from the storyworlds of literature into which she has escaped over the years, and from amateur psychoanalysis conducted on family and friends. She earned a PhD in Philosophy and works as a college instructor of writing, communications, and humanities subjects. Karen's poetry, fiction, and critical reviews have appeared in numerous literary journals over the past decade.