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Sweeping historical novel from Philippa Gregory the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin’s Lover. Set in the 1600s and seen through the eyes of John Tradescant, gardener to the great men of the age.
This is the story of the Tradescants, father and son, who, despite being humble gardeners, lived at the very centre of English political life in the Seventeenth Century.
They pioneered the art of gardening or more correctly the whole study of botany at a time when the world was opening up like a treasure chest of riches to merchant adventurers and explorers.
John Tradescant introduced the horse chestnut tree to Britain and hundreds of other species. His job as gardener and confidante first to Lord Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s renowned spymaster, then to the charismatic and erotically dangerous royal favourite the Duke of Buckingham, gave him an extraordinary role in the most turbulent period of English history – brilliantly evoked by the author. The garden very much took its place as an important symbol in the Tudor and Stuart view of the cosmos. This would change, just as Civil War would do away with the very institution of the monarchy.
Sumptuous, beautiful, deeply interesting about both history and horticulture and above all a wonderful story, this is Philippa Gregory’s finest novel.
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"I was entranced...Gregory promises us the continuation of the fictionalized story of the fortunes of the Tradescants in Virgin Earth. Personally, I can't wait."
-- Lisa Jardine, The Times (London)
"A cleverly conceived and executed historical narrative spanning one of the most intriguing and turbulent eras in British history."
-- Margaret Flanagan, Booklist
"This tale of forbidden love set against the turmoil of a country in chaos makes for both intelligent and satisfying reading."
-- Betsy Groban, The New York Times Book Review
"When it comes to writers of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is in the very top league."
-- Val Hennessy, Daily Mail
A traveller in a time of discovery, the greatest gardening pioneer of his day, yet a man of humble birth: John Tradescant’s story is a mirror to the extraordinary age in which he lives.
Sir Robert Cecil, adviser to the newly crowned King James I, is a man at the heart of the social and political changes which are poised to sweep through the kingdom. But when Cecil needs a confidant he turns not to his fellow courtiers or aristocrats, but to his gardener John Tradescant’s clear-sighted honesty, loyalty and inventive practicality make him uniquely trustworthy.
He scours the known world for new plants to grow in the outstanding gardens with which he graces the great houses of the age. He is the first to cultivate the horse chestnut, many varieties of fruit and flowers, even larches from Russia. His work enables him to witness history being made, from the gunpowder plot to the accession of Charles and the growing animosity between Parliament and court. Here both Charles and Tradescant are in thrall to the irresistible Duke of Buckingham, who commands the king’s heart while commandeering Tradescant to his service.
Tradescant has always been faithful to his masters, but Buckingham is unlike any he’s ever known, his flamboyant charm and energy countered by his reckless military schemes. The court may love him but the people hate him, and it is this conflict that John must resolve to make the change from feudal retainer to independent squire.
Brilliantly portraying this turbulent period of clashing world-views, combining keen insight into the politics and personalities of a country teetering towards civil war with sumptuous details of plants, horticulture and garden design, Philippa Gregory again demonstrates her ability to entertain, enthral and bring the past vividly to life.
‘The first lady of intelligent historical fiction’
‘Written from instinct, not out of calculation, and it shows’
‘Superb crafted, sparkles with period detail...a fine book’
‘Passionately felt... it is both uncompromising and brave’
ELIZABETH BUCHAN, 'Daily Telegraph'
'A RESPECTABLE TRADE'
‘The great roar and sweep of history is successfully braided into the ultimate daily detail of this compelling and intelligent book’
PENNY PERRICK, 'The Times'
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0002253178
Book Description HarperCollins, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0002253178