Gardener to the King: A Novel

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Arcade Publishing, 2000 - 116 pages
August 1674 - Louis XIV, one of Europe's greatest sovereigns, celebrates his armies' victory over Holland. At Versailles, his favorite of the royal residences, everything must reflect the glory of the Sun King.
In this world of pomp and show, one man remains detached from the procession of servants soldiers, politicians, diplomats, flatterers, and self-seekers that daily surrounds the King. As gardener to His Majesty, Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie is master of his own domain, the royal fruit and vegetable garden. Louis' generals might proclaim the power of France abroad, but La Quintinie's espaliers and vegetable plots assert nothing less than man's mastery over nature: a garden that can feed a thousand at a sitting, standards of pruning that in three hundred years have never been surpassed. Once a lawyer who turned his back on a brilliant career to pursue his love of horticulture, La Quintinie became, in the process, as artist.
His skill is admired by the King and revered by savants, his freedom is envied by all - the rhythms he observes are not those of the courtly dance but of the seasons. As the autocratic might of the King fules the rising hysteria around him, La Quintinie's wide humanitarian sympathies are with the soil and those who live by it. For the kitchen garden at Versailles harbors not only a great courtier, gardener, and provider, but also a secret radical.

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GARDENER TO THE KING

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The "greening," one might say, of its stoical (eponymous) protagonist is the gradually flowering theme of this eloquent récit by a young French writer.The time is the 1670s, the place primarily Louis ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Barbara Bray (née Jacobs) was born on November 24, 1924 in Paddington, London. She died on February 25, 2010. Bray was an English translator and critic. She translated the correspondence of Gustave Flaubert, and work by leading French speaking writers of her own time including Marguerite Duras, Amin Maalouf, Julia Kristeva, Michel Quint, Jean Anouilh, Michel Tournier, Jean Genet, Alain Bosquet, Réjean Ducharme and Philippe Sollers. She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1986. She had a personal and professional relationship with the married Samuel Beckett that continued for the rest of his life, and Bray was one of the few people with whom he discussed his work. Bray suffered a stroke at the end of 2003, but despite this disability she continued to write Beckett's memoirs, Let Mortals Rejoice..., which she could not complete. Bray recorded some of her reflections about Beckett in a series of conversations with her friend, Marek Kedzierski, from 2004 to 2009. Excerpts have been published in many languages, but not English as of yet.

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