A beautifully produced exploration into the cultural history of the rose.
It's hard to imagine a 500-page book dedicated solely to roses that isn't comprised primarily of prints. British horticultural historian Potter (Strange Blooms, 2008, etc.) has dug deep into the roots of rose history and produced an admirable dissection of all that the rose signifies now and throughout history. Transporting readers around the world—from ancient Greece to Europe to China to the United States—the author attempts to answer a very complex question: "Why the rose?" Readers will find her answers as multilayered as the rose itself. The flower, she argues, has been around for a long time (we have rose fossils as evidence); it appears in a great variety of climates and locations; and it is, quite simply, beautiful. By studying works of art from Sappho to Shakespeare to Gertrude Stein—she even throws in references to contemporary American films—Potter unearths what the rose has meant to different cultures. Innocence, sex, politics and the afterlife—to name just a few associations the rose inspires—may explain the flower's continued popularity, she suggests. The glossy paper and superb prints make this book ideal for gift-giving, although its greatest appeal will be to serious rose aficionados and even art historians.
Historically lush, detailed study of the world's favorite flower.