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Virgin Earth [Hardcover]

Philippa Gregory
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, Dec 21 1999 --  
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Book Description

Dec 21 1999 Earthly Joys
John Tradescant the Younger has inherited his father's unique collection of plants along with his unerring ability to nurture them. But as gardener to Charles I, he confronts an unbearable dilemma when England descends into Civil War. Fleeing from the chaos, John travels to the Royalist colony of Virginia in America. But the virgin land is not uninhabited. John's plant hunting takes him into the world of the native people--a world he learns to value just as it comes under threat from the colonial settlers.

In both the new world and the old, the established order is breaking down and every family has to find its own way to survive. For the Tradescants, through the upheavals of the Commonwealth and the Restoration, this means consolidating their reputations as the greatest gardeners in the country. In this enthralling, free-standing sequel to Earthly Joys, Philippa Gregory again delivers a tour-de-force of powerful politics, personal discovery, and glorious gardening, brilliantly evoking the uncertainties and emotions of these turbulent times.


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From Publishers Weekly

In the stand-alone sequel to her Earthly Joys, Gregory follows royal gardener John Tradescant the Younger back and forth across the Atlantic between colonial Virginia and war-torn England. When John first travels to Virginia to collect exotic plants in 1638, his guide is a beautiful young Indian girl named Suckahanna. After transporting his specimens to England, he plans to return and marry her, but once at home, he learns that his father has died, leaving a letter suggesting that John marry the efficient Hester Pooks. Needing someone to care for his two children by a previous marriage, as well as for the Tradescant collection of rare objects and the Ark, the family's famous garden, John weds Hester. Meanwhile, the foolish, tyrannical King Charles I is dragging England into a civil war, and John, as a trusted servant, is pulled unwillingly into his service. To avoid having to fight for a cause he does not believe in, John returns to Virginia and Suckahanna, leaving Hester and his children back in England. In Virginia he tries to start a plantation, but having no idea how to live off the land, nears death before he is rescued by the Powhatan, Suckahanna's people. Once again John must choose sides in a war, this time between the Powhatan and the English. John is torn between them, just as he is torn between the two women in each of those separate realms. This hefty epic illuminates the conflicts of the 17th century with clear prose and a believable cast of characters, and will draw in casual readers and lovers of history alike. (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Set in 17th-century England and Virginia, this saga begins as John Tradescant the Younger, Charles I's gardener, sails to the New World in search of rarities for his gardens. Not only does he find exotic plants, but he also glimpses unimagined freedom. His father's death leads John to a marriage of convenience in England. Unwilling to fight for Charles I, he returns to Virginia, where he joins the Powhatan and finds a wife. But eventually John loses his place in the tribe because of his inability to kill settlers. Determined to maintain a commitment to his English family, he goes home to a country buffeted by civil war. John strives to keep his family safe, but his gift for survival ultimately rings hollow. In fact, this novel is tepid compared with its predecessor, Earthly Joys. Readers who enjoyed that volume will want its sequel, but others may find it hard to care about a character whose loyalties shift so readily and so often.
-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book cannot be praised enough Dec 7 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Virgin Earth, the sequel to the simply wonderful Earthly Joys, is nothing less than amazing. It tells the story of John Tradescant, Jr, a man haunted by the fame of his famous gardener father, a man who just lost his wife to the plague, and who has left his two little children to go plant hunting in Virginia. The book goes back and forth between Virginia and England, painting vivid pictures of England during its Civil War, and also of America during its savage beginnings. The lives of King Charles, Cromwell, the natives and settlers in Virginia, as well as John himself all intertwine, making this book one of the most elegant and compelling historical novels I have ever read!
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3.0 out of 5 stars good read Jan. 14 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's not as fast-paced as some of her other books but it is good nonetheless. I unfortunately read it before Earthly Joys, so it's now out of sequence. Will see if that makes a difference.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nice Nov. 22 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I guess I haven't read this novel yet but it follows another one I enjoyed very much.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  63 reviews
69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book cannot be praised enough Dec 7 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Virgin Earth, the sequel to the simply wonderful Earthly Joys, is nothing less than amazing. It tells the story of John Tradescant, Jr, a man haunted by the fame of his famous gardener father, a man who just lost his wife to the plague, and who has left his two little children to go plant hunting in Virginia. The book goes back and forth between Virginia and England, painting vivid pictures of England during its Civil War, and also of America during its savage beginnings. The lives of King Charles, Cromwell, the natives and settlers in Virginia, as well as John himself all intertwine, making this book one of the most elegant and compelling historical novels I have ever read!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The last new world March 10 2006
By Lilly Flora - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In Virgin earth Phillippa Gregory finishes the story of the Tradescant's a family of gardeners and explorers who searched the world for rare and beautiful things and new plants that would thrive in England. The first book is Earthly Joys about John Tradescant the elder and this book is about his son.

Where John the elder was dutiful to the extreme, John the younger questions his worlds. The book opens with him on a ship to Virginia, trying to escape the grief that the death of his wife caused. In the new world he finds a young Indian girl to help him gather plants and becomes friends with and slightly infatuated though she is half his age. When he leaves Virginia he promises he will return and marry her, but when he returns home he finds that his father has died and left in their house a woman who he thought his son should marry and who would raise his children.

And so John is caught between two worlds. There is England his home, which is safe and predictable, and there is the new world, which awakened a life inside of him. But both are the point of upheaval, Virginia by the colonists who will not coexist with the natives, and England by the reformation. This conflict goes through the novel, as does another with similar themes. There is civil war in England. The king is executed and an elected government is in place. The people of England realize that the king is not divined, nor does he rule by divine right. He can be overthrown, even invited back.

This book exposes two profound human transformations in history. The change from rule of divine right to the rule of consent of the governed, and the transformation of the frontier of the earth into just another colony. The virgin earth of the title is literally the land and the mindset of the English people-and after this book it is virgin no more.

This is by far one of Philippa Gregory's best books. She does much better when writing about more normal people (as apposed to royalty) and normal, if somewhat extraordinary, lives. The book is believable and enthralling and truly expresses John's feeling that he is on the edge of the last new world (both real and political) that there will ever be.

Four point five stars.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Author July 6 2006
By HeyJudy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am a great fan of author Philippa Gregory, and she did not disappoint me in VIRGIN EARTH.

I had not realized that this novel is, in fact, a sequel; certainly, the story and the characters stand alone.

Though Gregory began her writing career in the 20th century and continues now, into the 21st, I am convinced that she somehow is living in England, c. 1600, so thoroughly is she steeped in the rhythms of that time.

Her hero here, John Tradescant, is a man of conflicted loyalties, loving England but excited by its American colony of Virginia, serving King Charles I as his gardener but not desiring to be his soldier, passionate about a Native American squaw in the Virginia colony while blessed with a wonderful wife at home in England.

Those were difficult times in which Gregory places this tale, and the great proof of her success as a storyteller is how engaged the reader becomes in her fictional characters, all the while knowing the ultimate outcome the conflict on which it hinges; to wit, Cromwell's Roundhead Revolution.

The part of the novel that deals with the earliest settlement of Virginia is fascinating. Gregory makes it clear that the United States is a country that was founded on turmoil, strife and cruelty. The suffering she describes, of both slaves and Native Americans, as well as the deathly struggles of the colonists, all are appalling--and these are issues that rarely are examined in full.

Philippa Gregory remains one of the finest authors in the English language. Her fans will be well-pleased by VIRGIN EARTH.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Philippa, what is happening? July 25 2007
By Paula Calvert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Phillipa became one of my most sought after authors after reading the juicy and wnderful Other Boleyn Girl. Followed by Queen's Fool, I was hooked, chasing bookstores for her next delivery of her next book. Since then, I have read The Constant Princess, Virgin's Lover, Earthly Joys, Wise Woman, and Virgin Earth. All these are 3 stars at best.

The writing is no longer rich with descriptives. Plots become unbelievable and basic. There is no longer much historical reference in these, making them feel like 'supermarket novels'.

Very dissappointing, since after Anya Seton (Katherine may be the best England/Historical novel yet), she was my favorite historical writer.

It feels like her publisher is pushing her to cough up a new book every year and the writing feels strained and rushed. She needs to stop and smell the flowers and let the historical imagination flow again.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Virgin Earth - Bummer Book Sept. 23 2008
By S. Dooney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This will be the last Philippa Gregory book that I will read. The prequel, Earthly Joys was good but in the sequel, she has destroyed the characters. It was a bummer. One bad thing after another and the ending was the worst. She took the man's son we learned to love in the first book and made him into a man with no character, who ran from every hardship and left his wife and kids to rot alone during a war. She made his grandson a psych show and married his teenage daughter to a 50 year old man. No happiness in this book. No smiles while reading it. I put the finished book down and my shoulders hung lower all day. YUCK.
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