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500: My Life in the World's Grandest Garden (Anglais) Relié – 11 février 2014

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“Charming…Mr. Baraton is delightful when describing his daily routines—he talks to his trees and has pet names for many of them—and as a writer he is a master of what might be termed the inarguable Gallic utterance…but for a hands-on perspective and sheer fun, Mr. Baraton can't be beat.” -Wall Street Journal

"What an eccentric and charming memoir… Baraton has been gardening at Versailles for nearly 40 years. He knows every vista, every bosquet, every fountain on its 2,100 acres. Baraton’s book is sweet and breezy." -New York Times

“…a delightful memoir of more than 40 years of living and working there…Baraton’s book is the best kind of travel experience: a chat with a local.” –Chicago Tribune

Baraton shares the memories of more than 40 years of living and working in the gardens. He is an engaging raconteur who tells his story with humility and a delightful sense of humor. He chooses his words to convey his passion and his personality. To read them is to have him in the room, where he entertains you without your having to reciprocate. In this case, though, that’s cause for regret. I think he would be the sort of house guest one hates to see depart...Whether you enjoy reading of history or gardening or simply take pleasure in the memoir of someone who is passionate about his craft and finds gratification therein, I strongly recommend The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World’s Grandest Garden. There is an undeniable sweetness to be found in being in sync with nature and in dancing to the rhythm of the seasons. Baraton tells us that, distilled to its essence, what makes a good gardener is joy. I have a feeling he is a very good gardener. He ranks high on a list of people I’d like to meet – ideally, on his turf." -Paris Arts Travel

An exquisite storyteller who works in and lives among the gardens, Baraton immediately engages readers…Baraton has filled his book not only with interesting historical details and human stories of the royals who walked the grounds but with insightful, contemporary tales of wise coworkers and eccentric visitors. Whether he’s discussing romantic tourists or marveling at bygone gardening techniques, Baraton’s eloquence and intelligence shine in this English translation by Murray. Practically required reading for garden travelers, gardeners, history fans, and even memoir buffs. Readers will wish more of his books were available in translation. Delightful.” ~Library Journal, Starred Review
“[A] fascinating memoir…an intimate and visceral look into his complicated relationship with one of Europe’s most astonishing public gardens…It is a telling glimpse of the challenge, consolation, and occasional horror of overseeing a place of magic.” ~Publishers Weekly

"He is an engaging story-teller who has written many books on Versailles, but this is the only one available in English. Baraton also hosts gardening programs on French radio and television. If you have visited Versailles, this book will remind you of that gorgeous setting. If you have not, it will inspire you to do so with the help of Baraton's suggestions for a perfect tour." -Chicago Botanic Garden
“Versailles head gardener and TV host Baraton reflects on his three decades tending some of the most beautiful gardens in the world: Simply but thoroughly, the author narrates the history of Versailles, from the days of Henry IV sneaking off to these woods to hunt to the days of the revolution. The author philosophizes about the ability of gardens to provide space for deep reflection, and he writes poetically about the beautiful power of the grounds he tends. He also provides some practical advice-e.g., the best places for a lovers' tryst. In addition to paying tribute to the work of these innovators, Baraton also looks at the various films that have been filmed on the grounds, storms that have battered them, and the effects of each season on the flora and fauna. The descriptions of the various sites on the grounds could only come from a man fortunate enough to have lived on and loved the site for almost 40 years." ~Kirkus Reviews

“In his capacious, generous memoir, Baraton beautifully renders the intersection of personal memories with French history and botanical splendors…The gardens of Versailles, however, are not entirely romanticized by Baraton. Darker moments, from the aftermath of a storm to suicides, balance the portrait of a place marked as much by seasonal change as by an irresistible mythology…This engaging account of decades spent cultivating pathways speaks volumes on public and private uses for gardens and of nature’s enduring witness.” -Foreword Magazine

"A bestseller in France, this charming memoir offers an intimate account of life at one of the world’s grandest gardens. Baraton came to Versailles in 1976 and has reigned over its grounds as jardinière en chef since 1982; he willingly confesses his personal relationship with the trees there. A treat for horticulture buffs, this appealingly self-deprecating account weaves together Baraton’s own story with that of the historic parterres and groves he so lovingly tends." -France Magazine

"Whether you enjoy reading of history or gardening or simply take pleasure in the memoir of someone who is passionate about his craft and finds gratification therein, I strongly recommend The Gardener of Versailles...." -BonJour Paris

"...a unique treasure....the real experiences and thoughts of someone who has worked (and lived!) on the grounds of Versailles add a personal touch that can't be achieved in a simple photobook or even general history of the palace and gardens. Baraton's passion for the gardens..clearly shines as the heart of this personal..garden memoir that is a must for anyone with an interest at a more personal look at Versailles." -Vive la Queen

Présentation de l'éditeur

INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards -- 2014 Finalist

For gardening aficionados and Francophiles, a love letter to the Versailles Palace and grounds, from the man who knows them best. In Alain Baraton's Versailles, every grove tells a story. As the gardener-in-chief, Baraton lives on its grounds, and since 1982 he has devoted his life to the gardens, orchards, and fields that were loved by France's kings and queens as much as the palace itself. His memoir captures the essence of the connection between gardeners and the earth they tend, no matter how humble or grand.

With the charm of a natural storyteller, Baraton weaves his own path as a gardener with the life of the Versailles grounds, and his role overseeing its team of eighty gardeners tending to 350,000 trees and thirty miles of walkways on 2,100 acres. He richly evokes this legendary place and the history it has witnessed but also its quieter side that he feels privileged to know. The same gardens that hosted the lavish lawn parties of Louis XIV and the momentous meeting between Marie Antoinette and the Cardinal de Rohan remain enchanted, private places where visitors try to get themselves locked in at night, lovers go looking for secluded hideaways, and elegant grandmothers secretly make cuttings to take back to their own gardens. A tremendous best seller in France, The Gardener of Versailles gives an unprecedentedly intimate view of one of the grandest places on earth.

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5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Versailles is more than the chateau 12 mai 2014
Par Joakim Zetterberg - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I was happy to find this book as so much about Versailles is focused on the chateau itself and not a lot about the spectacular garden. Here's a general history about the development of the "jardin à la française" in general, the garden of Versailles in particular, sprinkled with personal anecdotes from M. Baraton's life and work in this magnificent place. It's an easy read - at points it could probably be considered rambling and chatty, but I don't mind. It gives the book a personal touch and keeps it from becoming heavy and dry. What the book is lacking is illustrations and photos. The book is obviously full of historical characters and different locations in the garden: ponds, allees, fountains, clearings etc, but there is not a single map, photo or illustration for reference. I keep "Versailles: A Biography of a Palace" at hand, as well as searching for images on Internet, resulting in quite a bit of back-and-forth.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Gardening in Paradise 18 février 2015
Par The Garden Interior - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Once upon a time, in a land far away, a wealthy and powerful (but not very nice) king ordered that the world's most beautiful palace should be built for him and that it should be surrounded by one of the world's most beautiful gardens. The result was the palace of Versailles and, more than 300 years later, the present head gardener at Versailles has written a book to tell the world what it is like to garden in that paradise, beneath those famous windows.

Alain Baraton came to Versailles in 1976 and, after a few years as an apprentice, was made the youngest head gardener in the history of the palace. He has been there ever since and has imbibed the spirit of that magical place until it has become part of his very fabric. As he says: "I have lived at Versailles for more than thirty years now and I feel I have become a witness. My experience and life depend upon these stones, like ivy clambering up a wall. The relationship has become so close that I'm no longer certain whether I have helped to make Versailles or whether Versailles has been responsible for shaping me." Most serious and introspective gardeners know this feeling, and we ask ourselves often whether we make our garden or our garden makes us.

And what a garden Versailles is. You could call it perhaps the most beautiful garden in the world, but for the fact that there are so many different kinds of garden beauty, and except for the fact that my own garden happens to be the most beautiful garden in the world - a discreet chauvinism familiar to most gardeners. But Versailles certainly has its claim on our attention. It is 2,100 acres in size, has a team of over 100 gardeners who work there, with more than 350,000 trees and 30 miles of walkways. Not to mention the ponds, reflecting pools, canals fountains and statuary, or the spectacular palace it is built around. All in all, fairly magnificent. Versailles is in fact faulted by some, who think it is too grand, too formal, too ordered, inauthentic or contrived. It came about after all chiefly to emphasize the grandeur of one man and the comparative smallness of everyone else.

It was built upon the land where Louis XIII would go to hunt in the early 1600s. France was the most powerful nation on earth and Versailles soon became the epicenter of France. Louis XIV was the meticulous and visionary builder who poured a fortune into the palace and grounds to make them worthy of the Sun King he considered himself to be. He was the male genius of the place, just as much as the wife of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, was the durable female genius of the place. The famous gardens were laid out by the celebrated landscape designer André Le Nôtre and lovingly tended and expanded by the famous French botanist Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie. And now they are under the care of Baraton.

Baraton opens the book with a firsthand report of what is was like to be in that garden in December of 1999, when a once-in-a-millennium storm occurred. It brewed up off the coast of Newfoundland, then blew across the North Atlantic in a single day and hammered northern Europe with deadly and devastating effect, delivering hurricane winds over 100 miles per hour even as far inland as Versailles. Many people died in that terrible storm and for Versailles it was a disaster too. The great garden was ruined: 18,000 trees were lost, including many priceless specimens that were hundreds of years old and fraught with historical associations. But Baraton brought the gardens back to life and in this book, with a fluent and idiomatic translation from Christopher Brent Murray, he tells that story compellingly. He also weaves the history of the palace and its royal occupants together with the history of the gardens, presenting a lovely and very readable garden memoir that reflects the intimate bond between the people who live in a place and the garden they tend. He is an acute observer of this wonderful place; as he says: "Everything is interesting if you know how to observe and listen." And he has written a very personal and passionate revelation of this truly great garden.

One of the distracting things about this book is the way the author treats what could only be called personal grievances. He had an unhappy childhood and is bitter about the way he was raised. He often criticizes his own appearance and physique in a way that is meant to be candid and charming, but only comes across as awkward. He intrudes items of personal biography that are painful to the point of being downright embarrassing. He rails against the servitude that gardeners are held in, in his view. While all gardeners do servile and menial work, most of us feel it is a great joy and a privilege, not servitude. He sprinkles his narrative with occasionally salacious anecdotes of amorous couples caught in the act at Versailles, exhibitionists shooed away, and so on. You are left with the strong impression that an editor cajoled him: "Give us some racy bits. Show us the secret Versailles no one knows. Make us care about you!" And the result, frankly, is not very successful.
Another flaw, possibly also an editorial flaw, is that much of the narrative meanders from subject to subject in a disjointed, rather discursive way. Probably something like an unguided stroll through the great garden was intended, but the effect on the reader is merely aggravating.

Baraton is much better a writer when he has a topic at hand and goes into it deeply, as in the chapter "Le Nôtre and the Rest of Us", where he writes very interestingly about the differences between Le Nôtre and La Quintinie and comes down firmly in the La Quintinie camp (a point of view I admire because I am in the same camp myself). And in "Dead Leaves" he writes with feeling and sentiment about how powerfully connected to one's gardening tools the gardener is and how deplorable it is that traditions fall away too soon in some gardens and for some gardeners. Every gardener knows that change happens slowly in the garden and we all deplore change that happens too quickly and tradition that is discarded unnecessarily. [A translation gripe: why is "Feuilles Mortes" translated as "Dead Leaves" instead of the more usual and more vernacular "Fallen Leaves"?]

But all in all, this is a worthwhile read from an unfailingly interesting point of view. We are left feeling about the gardens of Versailles exactly like La Fontaine, who gazed out on their immense and superb beauty and wished: "May they last a thousand years."
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Charming account by the current Head Gardener at Versailles. ... 6 juillet 2014
Par Over-reader EKH - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Charming account by the current Head Gardener at Versailles. He and his wife live in a private house on the grounds of the chateau - can you imagine living at the chateau?! Baraton describes with Gallic wit how he came to be the chateau gardener and tells many amusing anecdotes about the visitors, some very odd, whom he has encountered. Nothing deep here -- just an enjoyable visit with a gentle Frenchman who takes the gardener's long view of Nature's resilience and human existence.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Joyful, Pleasant Read 28 mai 2014
Par Doris M. Woolfenden - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Just wonderful! Alain speaks to you in his writing. I felt I was walking the grounds with him. I'm glad he mentioned the "ghosts".
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
I wondered what the other rooms of the palace looked like. I wanted THAT tour 15 juillet 2014
Par Lauralee Taylor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
After a brief visit to Versailles a few years ago, I felt I only got to see the general public attraction of the palace. Seeing a door open into a hallway from a blocked off room, I wondered what the other rooms of the palace looked like. I wanted THAT tour. Later, walking down to the Petite Trianon, I watched the gardeners quietly at work. Don't know why I felt drawn to them, but I was, imagining what it must be like to be there when there were no tourist like myself. I found this book quite by accident and for the most part, it is a very candid veiw of what it's like to take care of the grounds of Versailles and what it's like to live on the grounds of the palace. After reading the book, I wanted to immediately go back to Versailles to see the grounds through Alain Baraton's eyes.
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