THE KING'S GARDEN by Fanny Deschamps

THE KING'S GARDEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fat, heavily-scented historical romance of high humidity and low metabolism--concerning the 18th-century plight of blonde kitten Jeanne, who passionately loves (mon Dieu!) two men. Orphaned daughter of a slater, Jeanne is the cherished ward of the Baroness de Bouhey; and even as a young thing she adores the much older Dr. Philibert Aubriot, austere botanist and scholar, whose regard for Jeanne never rises above mere sepals and tubers. So, crushed when Philibert marries, Jeanne agrees to be betrothed to an unexciting lawyer--but then falls hard for stunning corsair Vincent de Cotignac, who has ""a soft gleam in his coffee-brown eyes"" and a beautiful (if middle-aged) Creole mistress, Pauline de Vaux. Smitten to distraction, Jeanne plans to sail away with Vincent on his privateering ship until. . .! Yes, now the Wife of beloved Philibert conveniently dies; and, though Vincent has ""shattered her innocence"" (in heavy petting), Jeanne accompanies Philibert to 1764 Paris as gal Friday, working at the experimental garden at Versailles--and becoming Philibert's ecstatic mistress when the scholarly barricades crumble. Soon, however, Philibert is engrossed in work again; restless Jeanne opens an herb and tea shop, flirts with the Marshal de Richelieu (tireless seducer and royal procurer); Vincent reappears--but Jeanne loyally stays with the ailing Philibert. And eventually, after adventures in the Indies (kidnapping by bandits, etc.), Jeanne buys an island plantation and does marry Vincent on his frigate before he buckets off again. The big problem: how to tell Philibert? So, in between botanical expeditions, stocking the plantation with slaves and amenities, and witnessing the love-tangles of friends, Jeanne waits for the right moment to tell Philibert, whom she loves just as much as Vincent. . . but who expires just in time. Nearly 700 pages of languorous Gallic foreplay (mainly verbal), laced avec palpitations--and heavy on the old ennui.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Harmony/Crown