For Jean Baptiste de la Quintinie, kitchen gardener to Louis XIV, the potager at Versailles proved not only his artist's canvas but the seedbed of his revolutionary sympathies. August 1674. Louis XIV, one of Europe's most powerful sovereigns, celebrates his armies' victory over Holland. In Versailles, the favourite of the royal residences, his kitchen gardener, Jean Baptiste de la Quintinie, labours to make the espaliers and vegetable plots that feed the court nothing less than a work of art. Revered for his skill, and envied for his freedom, this brilliant, unworldly man stands apart from the diplomats, flatterers and self-servers that surround the monarch. But is his understanding of the soil and those who live by it enough to protect him as the Sun King's reign spirals into a regime of fear?
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 120
Weight: 103 g
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 mm
"Frederic Richaud's wonderful first novel is as splendid and sordid as the Sun King's court: beautifully constructed but full of ugly things... whether describing a masked ball, Lucullan banquet or the advent of Halley's comet, Richaud makes the reader share in the participants' fear and excitement. He is a concise and witty writer... An impressive debut" Mark Sanderson, Time Out; "A first novel remarkable for its brevity and lucidity... The book's values are those of the gardener it celebrates: patience, humility, respect for the elements and the hard lives of the peasantry, nothing flash or showy... Slowly and skilfully, in Barbara Bray's smooth translation, Richaud allows the reader to get inside the gardener's weather-beaten skin" Jennifer Potter, TLS; "Beautiful and poignant" Murrough O'Brien, Independent on Sunday