Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside

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9780307962928: Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside
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From the author of the best-selling A Venetian Affair, here is the charming chronicle of his search for the identity of a mysterious old rose. Andrea di Robilant’s tale takes us back to the time of Josephine Bonaparte, as well as into some of the most delightful rose gardens in Italy today, brought to colorful life on the page in the watercolors of artist Nina Fuga.
 
In his 2008 biography of the Venetian lady Lucia Mocenigo (his great-great-great-great- grandmother), di Robilant described a pink rose that grows wild on the family’s former country estate, mentioning its light peach-and-raspberry scent. This passing detail led to an invitation for an audience with a local rose doyenne, Eleonora Garlant. She and other experts wondered if di Robilant’s unnamed rose could possibly be one of the long-lost China varieties that nineteenth-century European growers had cultivated but which have since disappeared. On the hunt for the identity of his anonymous yet quietly distinctive rose, Di Robilant finds himself captivated by roseophiles through time––from Lucia and her friend Josephine Bonaparte to the gifted Eleonora, whose garden of nearly fifteen hundred varieties of old roses is one of the most significant in Europe––and by the roses themselves, each of which has a tale to tell.

What starts out as a lighthearted quest becomes a meaningful journey as di Robilant contemplates the enduring beauty of what is passed down to us in a rose, through both the generosity of nature and the cultivating hand of human beings, who for centuries have embraced and extended the life of this mysterious flower.

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Review:

Guest Review of “Chasing the Rose,” by Andrea Di Robilant

By John Casey

John Casey was born in 1939 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Iowa. His previous novel, Spartina, won the 1989 National Book Award for fiction. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is Henry Hoyns Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia. He is literary executor of the estate of Breece D'J Pancake.

In his quest for the genealogy of his rose, Andrea di Robilant deploys his gift for engaging with people. He shares this gift with the author of another of my favorite books, Akenfield by Ronald Blythe, an English poet who wandered around his county gathering the stories of gardeners, teachers, cooks, war veterans, lords and ladies. Andrea di Robilant has written something just as wonderful. He is fluent in at least three languages and has an amazingly detailed knowledge of history (Napoleon and Josephine play a part), but it is Andrea's enthusiasm and alert open-heartedness that make Chasing the Rose as full of incidents and personages as the most engaging novel.”

 

 

About the Author:

Andrea di Robilant was born in Italy and educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in international affairs. He is the author of A Venetian Affair, Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon, and Irresistible North: From Venice to Greenland on the Trail of the Zen Brothers. He lives in Rome.
 

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