THE ITALIAN GARDEN by Judith Lennox

THE ITALIAN GARDEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A richly detailed historical romance, set in Renaissance Italy and France, from the author of Till the Day Goes Down (1992). Joanna Zulian, daughter of an itinerant Venetian herbalist and a Spanish mother, is 13 when her mother dies and her father commends her to the care of his brother, an established painter in Venice. Joanna becomes an apprentice in his studio, and shows talent, but she's prevented from developing it because of her sex. And so she turns her creative passion to gardening. Meanwhile, in Brittany, young Toby Dubreton is growing to manhood with his adoptive parents. Toby learns that he may be the bastard child of the noble du Chantonnay family, who occupy the opulent nearby estate, Marigny. But be that as it may, he has to make his own way, and he becomes a successful mercenary soldier in the conflict breaking out between Italy and France. In Venice he meets Joanna, and they are instantly drawn to each other. Fate parts them, however, and throws her into a terrible marriage. The strands of her life and Toby's will cross, interweave, separate and meet again throughout the novel, and suspense builds as the two seem doomed to keep missing each other. Eventually, Joanna finds her way into Brittany after leaving her husband and becoming the mistress of the brother of the lord of Marigny. The estate exerts a magnetic pull on both her and Toby, and throws them into conflict with the dastardly Hamon de Bohun, who will go to any lengths to possess the land--and Joanna. A few anachronisms (these 16th-century characters speak of their ``relationships'' and of being ``sidetracked'') undermine confidence in the historical fidelity here. But, overall, an involving story with some vivid scenery and costumery.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09810-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993




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