Little Emma dies after she was coming from a day-trip to Kew Gardens with her classmates. Kew Gardens is a botanical garden in south-west London and houses the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Founded in 1840, from the exotic garden at Kew Park in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, its living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over seven million preserved plant specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. It is one of London’s top tourist attractions and is a World Heritage Site.
After Emma’s death, Rachel moves to Santorini, where her mother was originally from. Santorini is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km southeast of Greece‘s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera.
The characters talk about the ‘caldera’ often. A caldera is a large cauldron-like depression that forms following the evacuation of a magma chamber/reservoir. Santorini caldera is a large, mostly submerged caldera, located in the southern Aegean Sea, 120 kilometers north of Crete in Greece. Visible above water is the circular Santorini island group, consisting of Santorini (aka Thera), the main island, Therasia and Aspronisi at the periphery, and the Kameni islands at the centre.
The reference to the earthquake in 1956 is frequent in the book. The 1956 Amorgos earthquake occurred at 03:11 UTC on July 9. It had a magnitude of 7.7 on the moment magnitude scale. The epicentre was to the south of the island of Amorgos, the easternmost island of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. There was significant damage on Amorgos and the neighbouring island of Santorini. It was the largest earthquake in Greece in the 20th century. It was followed 13 minutes later by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake near Santorini. It triggered a major tsunami with a maximum run-up of 30 m. The combined effects of the earthquake shaking and the tsunami caused the deaths of 53 people with a further 100 injured.
In the book the characters frequently mention Greek coffee, which is a variety of Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is a method of preparing unfiltered coffee. Roasted and then finely ground coffee beans are simmered (not boiled) in a pot, optionally with sugar, and served in a cup where the grounds are allowed to settle.
In the end when she gets together with Palmer, they move to Baxedes. Directing to the north west, one reaches a plain known as Baxedes were the habitants of Oia used to grow dry fruits and vegetables (that did not need watering) such as tomatoes, cucumbers, split peas, aubergines, carrots, baby courgettes, lettuces, small melons and water melons.