Gardener to the King by Frederic Richaud
A Novel

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It is August 1674. Louis XIV celebrates his armies' victory over Holland. Meanwhile, the head gardener at Versailles wages his own war to make its orchards and kitchen gardens works of art. Every day Louis XIV is encircled by a stately collection of courtiers, servants, politicians, seekers, complainers, and above all flatterers and self-servers. Excepted from this company is the man who feeds them, Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie, the King's gardener. Admired and envied by all, for he is very much his own man, the gardener works to the rhythms of the seasons-and with ironic detachment observes the royal court along with his asparagus and peas.

About Frederic Richaud

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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.
Published April 16, 2001 by Arcade Publishing. 116 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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La Quintinie’s own radicalization crystallizes at a lavish banquet at Versailles, during which he ruefully observes Louis’s frivolous guests “devouring in minutes what had cost him a lifetime to produce.” The gardener, forced to conclude that his dream of an “enclosed world, yet one without bound...

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A refreshing departure from the sweeping historical novel, Richaud's slight but charming tale depicts the swirling world of Louis XIV's court as seen through the eyes of Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, the king's detached and philosophical gardener.

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