Earthly Joys

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9780006496441: Earthly Joys

Tremendous historical novel of the early 1600s, as seen through the eyes of John Tradescant, gardener to the great men of the age. 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. As gardener and confidante to Sir Robert Cecil, Tradescant is well placed to observe the social and political changes that are about to sweep through the kingdom. While his master conjures intrigues at Court, Tradescant designs for him the magnificent garden at Hatfield, scouring the known world for ever more wonderful plants: new varieties of fruit and flower, the first horse chestnuts to be cultivated in England, even larches from Russia. Moving to the household of the flamboyant Duke of Buckingham, Tradescant witnesses at first hand the growing division between Parliament and the people; and the most loyal of servants must find a way to become an independent squire.

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About the Author:

Philippa Gregory has a history degree from the University of Sussex and a PhD in eighteenth-century literature from the University of Edinburgh. She is a fellow of Kingston University. She lives with her family in Sussex.

From Publishers Weekly:

The order of a 17th-century English garden stands in contradiction to the dissolution of a plague- and hunger-ridden land ruled by greedy Stuart kings and immoral courtiers. Gregory's (Wideacre) latest historical novel follows gardener John Tradescant, whose life entwines with the chaotic history of his time. Tradescant is in his 30s when he goes to work for King James's trusted adviser Robert Cecil, then observes the degradation as power passes from the honorable Cecil to the seductive, sexually cynical Duke of Buckingham. Tradescant's wife and son are suspicious of the pro-Catholic views of the court. Puritanical by nature, they conduct an ongoing argument with John about who owes allegiance where. The need for bright perfection?a garden where nothing fades or dies?requires enormous labor, a visibly costly attempt to impose decorative order on wilderness. For the gardener, the question of loyalty is initially simple, but his family is appalled by court excesses as people are taxed and slowly starved. The population grows more restive as court arrogance increases. This is a powerful parable for any period of history, but here the details of home life, travel and the attitudes toward human worth make it a potent statement about Stuart absolutism, pre-Restoration chaos and an empire on the cusp of colonization and trade. Gregory's skills as a storyteller give these issues a human focus and result in an absorbing narrative.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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