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The Angel Tree: The Enchanting Quest for the World's Oldest Olive Tree

Dingwall-Main, Alex

2 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1611457564 / ISBN 13: 9781611457568
Published by Arcade Publishing 2012-10-09, 2012
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
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1611457564 Never used in Very Good condition. Moderate wear to corners/ edges. Bookseller Inventory # Z1611457564Z2

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Angel Tree: The Enchanting Quest for the...

Publisher: Arcade Publishing 2012-10-09

Publication Date: 2012

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Very Good

Edition: 1.

About this title

Synopsis:

A serendipitous, fender-bending encounter between the author, a distinguished landscape architect, and a wealthy Frenchman in Provence leads to the strangest, funniest horticultural odyssey in recent memory. The rich, eccentric Frenchman has just finished renovating, with great care and attention, a beautiful house in Provence. But the elegant courtyard looks very empty. “Find me the oldest olive tree in existence,” he challenges the author, “and bring it back to take pride of place in my garden.”

The author’s travels take him to the olive groves of France, the farms of Greece and Spain, and many backyards of Italy. Along the way, he encounters a 3,000-year-old tree, a farmer who won’t sell his tree unless he can sell the farm that surrounds it, mafiosi skullduggery in the plant world, unscrupulous dealers, divided families, local weddings, farcical disasters, and a village that believes a drop of rain that has touched the leaves of the Angel Tree will cure any illness or sadness.

Review:

Quests are nothing new for travel writers. Some have toiled over a villa restoration in Tuscany. Some have pursued exotic culinary adventures. Alex Dingwall-Main, a landscape architect by day, introduces plant-purchasing as a grand pursuit in his new book The Angel Tree: The Enchanting Quest for the World's Oldest Olive Tree. Despite the title, the Dingwall-Main doesn't necessarily need to find the oldest tree—but at a minimum he must procure one that is ancient enough (say 1,000-1,500 years—olives can live extraordinarily long lives) and pretty enough to satisfy his wealthy client, Monsieur Lautour. Dingwall-Main finds several promising subjects, including the Angel Tree of the title; frustratingly, though, the locals sometimes can't be moved to part with the most revered trees for a mere monetary reward. In addition to recounting his shopping expeditions, the author brings in snippets of European history (covering such diverse topics as the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage and the Black Death) to illustrate the turbulent times through which these old trees have survived. He then fills in the rest of the book with tidbits from the life of a well-to-do garden designer. Some readers may simply enjoy living vicariously through Dingwall-Main as he crisscrosses the Mediterranean in search of Lautour's tree, but others could find themselves asking if his description of test-driving a Mini-Cooper is really necessary, or wondering what kind of person packs formal wear on a trip to buy a plant. The Angel Tree does illuminate one fascinating aspect of life in Southern Europe: old olive trees are considered a must-have accessory for the gardens of the rich. This is a boon to farmers who can sell past-their-prime trees for top dollar. Dingwall-Main also shows a humorous touch, especially as he relates one incident in which, due to a careless delivery driver, an acquaintance's newly purchased tree falls into her swimming pool. At its best, The Angel Tree serves as an interesting, though perhaps unnecessary reminder of what wealth can accomplish. With enough money, not only can we possess something that has lived through centuries of Western history, but (with a little luck) we can have it perfectly situated in our garden. --Leah Weathersby

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