Titel: The Rose Grower
Verlag: Carroll & Graf, New York
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
Auflage: 1st Edition
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The year is 1789. It's the fourteenth of July, and at the opening of this striking first novel an American balloonist, Stephen Fletcher, falls out of the cloudless French sky. He lands in the pastoral world of a Gascon magistrate and his three daughters -- the precocious Mathilde, whose wit delights him; the angelical Claire, whose beauty enchants him; and the tall, plainspoken Sophie, whose extraordinary rose garden wins his admiration but not his love. With them, Stephen is caught up in the confusing early days of the French Revolution. If the rumor and news of the cataclysmic series of events initiated by an unruly mob in Paris at the Bastille at first seem distant from quiet Gascony, the spirit of revolution soon proves to be contagious, especially for Joseph Morel, a principled young physician who has been spared the drudgery of a servant's fate by a wealthy benefactor. While his reason grapples with his revolutionary zeal, his heart yearns for the love that Sophie has already committed to an indifferent Stephen. In the course of the novel's splendidly recounted five calamitous years, fire, murder, riots, and terror sweep through the French countryside and eventually into the lives of the sisters Saint-Pierre. With tragedy looming, Sophie strives to fulfill a passion more compelling than her dream of love or the politics of revolution: to create an original repeat-flowering crimson rose.Review:
July 14, 1789, Montsignac, Gascony. The Saint-Pierre family is caring for American artist Stephen Fletcher after he's fallen from his balloon and landed in a haystack. Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Pierre is a magistrate with three daughters. Claire, the eldest, is beautiful and married (in a way that seems to require little personal involvement) to the odious and malodorous aristo Hubert. Sophie is plain, single, intelligent, good, competent, and obsessed with growing roses. And Mathilde is 8 and entertainingly precocious: when Stephen remarks on how he adores children because "they are so ... innocent and yet so perceptive in their apprehension of the world," Matty dismisses him instantly. "'Oh no--another Rousseauist,' said the child with unconcealed disappointment. 'I'm not like that at all.'" And then there's Brutus, a dog that "only bites people whose smell he doesn't like."
But the Saint-Pierres' lives, like those of everyone else in the locality, are about to fracture as the Revolution gathers momentum and the shock waves from Paris push out into the provinces. The novel's epigraph--"Small change, small change," Napoleon Bonaparte's reaction to a battlefield full of casualties--signals it to be an exploration of small people caught up in big events. And, indeed, Michelle de Kretser takes us from the optimistic start of the Revolution as it manifests in Montsignac, through factionalization, fanaticism and Terror, denunciations and betrayals, through love and loyalty to a quiet, damaged aftermath, with a vivid cast of surprising heroes, unexpected villains, and not-quite-innocent bystanders. The Rose Grower is a hypnotically engrossing work, illuminating the biggest of issues with the lightest, most fragrant of touches. --Lisa Gee
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