Gardener to the King: A Novel
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 KINGUser Review - Kirkus
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