This book is part of a two parter really, even though the story kind of stands on its own, it is the follow up to Earthly Joys. Where the first book follows the John Tradescant the Older in his career as gardener to the King, this book follows his son who inherits his father collection of plants and also his love and skill with the.  John however gets to travel to America in search of new plants where he meets native Indians and falls in love with their lifestyle. 

 As usual Philippa Gregory writes with style and grace, and I found myself falling into the story and living the adventure.

This is a really really useful little book, it's not huge , only 96 pages but well worth its size for the amount of information packed into it. I was expecting a book of designs but whilst there are some designs to get you thinking and trying ideas out there is also a wealth of information about gems, names, settings, design consideration, matching accessories and how to work with a bride during a very stressful time... and a whole section on building a bridal jewellery business, including market research, business planning and pricing.  

So if you are thinking along those lines this book is well worth getting.

Love Philippa Gregory's writing style... but then you probably know that as I am sure I have mentioned it before... once or twice, maybe even three times.  

This story is following John Tradescant the Elder who was in his time the greatest gardener of his age.  John_Tradescant_the_elder.

John was a naturalist, collector of plants and gardener to what would be today classed as "the stars".  He created some of the most beautiful gardens in England, places like Hatfield House, Salisbury House, St Augustine's Abbey.  John travelled extensively gathering plants and seeds for his collection which were house eventually in a house called "the Ark"

Obviously writing any novel about the past has to involve a certain amount of licence and guess work, especially when recreating a conversation or a possible situation and this is where Philippa Gregory excels, she manages to retain historical accuracy at the same time as keeping a story interesting and true to the time frame it's been written.

I'm not a big gardener,  I do in fact have a black thumb and am the kiss of death to most plantlife but that didn't stop me enjoying every page of this book.

Now that my husband and I have stopped trying to have a baby of our own lots of other questions have come in to play... What about adoption? Fostering?  Could I feel the depth of feelings for a child that was not my own? I shouldn't be asking these questions really as I already have stepchildren in my life but adoption is different, all my stepchildren I have a connection with, the other parent so you do know something of where they come from but with an adopted child you probably wouldn't know anything.
Summer Olivia and her Mummy Samantha
Recently a dear friend gave me the highest honour I can think of by asking me to be godmother to her child,  I didn't have a single moment of hesitation, it's funny but throughout her pregnancy this friend had had a horrible time, being there for her was by turns a heartbreaking experience and sometimes frightening and sometimes I just felt angry for her with the things she was having to go through. So little Summer Olivia was already named "Tough Cookie" before she even arrived, such was her determination to survive. 
But the moment I got to hold Summer for the first time I just felt it, that overwhelming rush of love, that desire to protect and care for... there were no doubts, no questions, just love. 

I enjoyed every moment of my visit to Sam and Summer, even the poopy nappies, the baby sick and the crying and I can't wait to go back and spend more time with my friend and my gorgeous goddaughter. 

But the one question the visit did answer for me was that yes. I could love a child that was not my own. That just opens up a whole new parcel of questions though?  Would I be prepared to give up some of my hobbies?  Where would we put another child? Could we even afford it?  We're on the verge of being able to go on holiday as a couple, could I forego that?

But then, thinking about it, not going there would mean more free time to zip up motorways unencumbered to spend time with Sam and Summer.

Have you ever been gagging for a book to come out?  I have and this was the book, I have read all the previous 5 in the series and loved them, loved them so much I had re-read them several times and I had always hoped that this one would come soon, pleeeeease let it come soon. I think you are getting the drift on my desire to read this book.

Anyway finally the book comes out and like an avid child in a sweetshop I rushed to buy it... I even bought it in hardback because (a) I knew I would have to wait for the paperback and I'm not good at waiting and (b) I thought oh I know I will read it more than once so I can justify the hardback price.

So I save this to take with me on holiday and settle down in the sun for a good read... after about 100 pages though I was just about ready to cry.... with disappointment! 

After waiting all this time for this book I couldn't believe just how bad the book was.  I mean the characters are the same, the same people I felt I had been getting to know throughout the previous 5 books, so my attachment to them should have been the same.  It wasn't a lack of emotional investment or interest on my part.   It was just the book... I don't know what happened to Jean M Auel but this book just didn't have the same oompf that the others did.  It was like she just ran out of steam, the book was so repetitive.. by page 100 I was literally screaming "ok already I know people find her freaking accent unusual... shut up about it!!!"

But I am stubborn and as it was the ONLY book I brought on holiday with me I felt compelled to finish it.  I did... barely... almost chucked it in the sea a couple of times and the disappointment I felt at the repetition in the book wasn't salved by a strong ending... no it was the wishy washiest ending to an epic story I have ever seen.  Now this could have been because I was already so annoyed with the disappointment of the body of the story or it could just have been because the ending was rubbish either way that's several hours of my life I won't be getting back. The last time I saw a plot this wet it involved Bobby Ewing being in a shower and it all being a dream in Dallas.

And to top it off, I almost left the book in the hotel room, I was that disgusted with it, but no, I thought I will take it home and stick it on the bookshelf only to get charged for excess baggage on the way home... if I had left the book behind that would have been a chunk of weight we didn't end up paying for.

The editors of this books should have gone through it with a big red pen and marked "repetitious" on every page.