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Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre Hardcover – April 1, 2007

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lavishly designed and sumptuously illustrated, Orleans Embrace celebrates what makes New Orleans' French Quarter unique and significant. In a long, meandering introduction, Fisher addresses Hurricane Katrina but mostly writes about the history of the quarter and the spirit of those who live there. "No great American city should be left lying spread out as a mutilated carcass with bits of people's lives strewn clear across the horizon," she writes, then recounts all that the quarter has given to America over the centuries. The central section presents Guste's out-of-print classic, The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre (1993), in which Guste provides beautiful photographs and capsule backstories for 20 historic gardens. In the book's final section, Fisher tackles Katrina head-on to the accompaniment of photographs by native Louis Sahuc, lamenting damage to the city of "magical thinking." She declares, "We can decide to buck cruel contretemps or lie down and surrender." Unusual, gorgeous, and intriguing. One hundred percent of the publisher's profits go to French Quarter preservation. Colleen Mondor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Benjamin Franklin Awards double winner 2007 for Best New Voice Nonfiction ("An emotional portrayal of and poignant narrative on New Orleans and the French Quarter") and Best First Book Nonfiction. A finalist in 3 more categories

Nautilus Book Awards Finalist 2007

"A compendium . . . passionate reflection . . . love letter to this seductive place with its distinctive history, character, and architectural style."  —San Francisco Chronicle

"No medium alone, or paired with another, could possibly capture the elusive essence of the place author TJ Fisher calls 'a bewitching oasis of culture and civilization sculpted from a hostile swamp.'"  —Philadelphia Inquirer

"Amazing, lushly produced inside look at the mysteries of the French Quarter through the eyes and lenses of local aristocrats' cornucopia of stories."  —Andrei Codrescu, "Penny Post" column, Gambit & Downtown Express

"An enchanting peek inside the elusively secret and mysterious parts of the indomitable French Quarter. This is the real Vieux Carré rarely glimpsed by outsiders."  —Francis Ford Coppola

"What a visual palette. Wow! This is truly the New Orleans I love."  —Emeril Lagasse

"A feast for those who prize the city's timeless charms."   —Tom Piazza, author, My Cold War


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Morgana Press (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977351475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977351473
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,458,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Southern author. New Orleans character. Wisdom seeker. Provocateur. Swamp empress. Warrior-poet. Cotton-candy lover. Country club banned. I'm on my journey." ~ TJ Fisher

TJ Fisher is a Southern author, documentarist and social critic from Bourbon Street in the Vieux Carré (old square) -- the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. She also hails from the Town of Palm Beach, Florida. Anointed by The Advocate as "suitably outrageous and eccentric to represent New Orleans," Fisher's 1959 pink Cadillac convertible Lulabell is prominently featured in her works of fiction.

TJ's award-winning works on New Orleans capture the heart and soul of the city; her colorful narratives and imagery chronicle the people, places and spirit of New Orleans, past and present. Taking readers on resonate and deep journeys of passion and emotion, TJ's original voice grabs hold and ignites the senses; she provokes and stirs the emotions. She is well known for unleashing torrents of lush and spirited words.

Her critically acclaimed "Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré" and "Hearsay from Heaven and Hades: New Orleans Secrets of Sinners and Saints" books garnered major kudos and national literary honors.

The much anticipated "Pearly Gates People" characters of "THE PEARLY GATES OF PURGATORY promenade series manuscripts have not yet been finalized and released for print and dramatic adaptation. [Books: Baby Doll Gomba, Zin-Zin, Flambeau, Peristyle, Mascarade, Société, Procession.] The sweeping series is set in New Orleans, Dallas and Palm Beach.

Publication of TJ's forthcoming coffee-table pictorial "Vieux Carré Chic the Art of Overindulgent Home Décor" has been rolled back.

When discussing her "Pearly Gates" novel series, TJ says: "Me? I know the sensation of a spectacular rise and fall into heaven and hell on earth. What it's like to open the door into a house of deceit. The shadowlands ... of life written in chalk. Permeable truth and fiction. Oh yeah, the incarnation of the dream unfolding, a woman whose dramatic life, meteoric rise to fortune, and equally sudden eclipse back into darkness, then spiral into fame, can scarily have an equal. But there're always consequences. With all my family's foibles and shortcomings, at least they never raised me to believe life's fair. It's not. Even as a small child I knew that beyond the golden sunshine, destiny's cruel. Cold. Dark. God has a weird and warped sense of humor. The mold of Southern quirkiness is unalterable. Peppermint drop mouths mashed with cut glass, sweet potato pie and Praline Brittle. It leaves complex scars that can't be erased.

"I have many deeply flawed Old South 'crazy' ancestors. I descend from a long line of colorful characters and riches to rags -- and rags to riches -- fabled tales that have a mythic quality that echoes Greek tragedy. My own life is a classic Tennessee William play, a continuum, set in umpteen acts. I live an over-the-top Southern Gothic life that no novelist would ever dare to pen. I am an ultimate survivor, in the face of adversity."

TJ agrees that the only way to tell the truth is in fiction but declines to admit how much of her "Pearly Gates" work is a true story. She will leave that up to the reader to determine, she says.

Her multiple literary awards span PMA Benjamin Franklin Awards, including double gold for "Best New Voice Nonfiction" and "Bill Fisher Award for Best First Nonfiction Book"; gold Ippy Award; Nautilus Book Award; two gold National Best Book Awards; Eric Hoffer Award; Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance honors; Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Faulkner-Wisdom short-list novel.

She is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), Dramatists Guild of America (DG), Authors Guild (AG), National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Actors' Equity Association (AEA), and other professional guilds and organizations.

Learn more about flamboyant, quirky, outspoken, opinionated and all-original author TJ Fisher at TJFISHER.COM, TJFISHER.NET and Facebook!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By T. R. Smith on March 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though finely printed with many photographs, I am certain this book was never meant to merely decorate the coffee table. It opens with glowing praises of notables and celebrities like Francis Ford Coppola, Nicholas Cage, Jimmy Buffett, and many others. As 100% of the publisher's profits go to preservation of the French Quarter, that is also worthy of considerable praise, for surely New Orleans is America's greatest city, and the Vieux Carré its most precious jewel.

Actually three essays in one volume, the book covers New Orleans history, the French Quarter gardens, and saving New Orleans in its current post-Katrina period. The writing is uniformly verdant and lush, with descriptions often poetic if not philosophical. However, this is quite a visual book, with a great many photographs included. It's perhaps my own sense of artistry, but I find some of the photographs a bit on the dark side and of somewhat low contrast. New Orleans is not known for its many clear sunny days, and the high walls surrounding many of the gardens reduce the available light, but the gardens usually aren't quite so gloomy and shadowy as some of the photographs might suggest. I don't know the cameras used for this volume, but some of the images also seem to lack the "snap" that would typically come from a large format camera, usually the camera of choice for this kind of work. If a 4x5 or larger was indeed used, then I really can't explain it. But that's not to say there aren't many gorgeous photographs here, and others may find my criticism far too influenced by my personal sense of style, and they are probably right. I particularly like the photographs of the pool and the spacious courtyard of the Begue home on Bourbon Street, and there are many, many others to enjoy here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
No ordinary coffee table photography book, "Orleans Embrace With The Secret Gardens Of The Vieux Carre" is a 388-page memoir of the New Orleans French Quarter featuring 49 historic black-and-white photographs and 320 full color illustrations. While the overall book draws from the previous work of Roy F. Guste, Jr., the photographs by Louis Sahuc are bonded with a personal and compelling narrative text by T. J. Fisher. Readers will encounter a work originally intended to be of local interest, but in a post-Katrina world, has emerged with universal attraction as a memorial and a motivation to restore a once great American city to its unique and original glory. Enthusiastically recommended, "Orleans Embrace With The Secret Gardens Of The Vieux Carre" will prove to be of immense interest to several categories of readership including: gardening enthusiasts, historians, architects, photographers, and anyone who has every walked along the avenues and admired the parks, gardens, and buildings of the New Orleans French Quarter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Alton on April 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
WOW...what a big beautiful book! For anyone who has a connection to New it...give it...treasure it...well written, throughly researched, amazing photos and layout...sure to be an award winner! Thanks for putting your heart into this volume!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Loves Books on March 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a great book! Far more than just a pretty "coffee table" title!

Visually gorgeous, the narrative is equally powerful - you'll be transported into New Orleans past as well as learn why this city deserves a place in our future. The author's love is evident with every turn of the page.

I plan to get several as gifts. My friends will be delighted and I'll be helping this deserving community since the publisher is donating profits to preservation efforts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susi M Arendt on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first got this book through the library on a recommendation from the Book-A-Day Calendar series and after flipping through the pages I figured I'd buy, not one, but three copies for gifts. The combination of the three contributors to the book make for a great read, whether or not you've experience the French Quarter. The fact that all proceeds go toward the preservation of the French Quarter sealed the deal for me
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Beans on March 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Startling. Stunning. Powerful. Spectacular. A masterpiece. What an unusual, beautiful and intelligent offering. For us around the world who love New Orleans and Louisiana, it is a sentimental journey, filled with bittersweet memories. The narrative and pictorial part melt together with a special synergy. It is an uncloaked love open memoir...a wakeup call. The writing is touching and reflective. The majestic photos transport you to another time and place. This sweeping 3-part commemoration and celebration of the French Quarter is meaningful, significant, dreamy, compelling. Bravo. Kudos. Well done. This passionate work is heartfelt and effective. But yet real and factual. I have never read anything quite like it. It is a vibrant one-of-a-kind piece -- a classic! -- just like the French Quarter itself. I feel and see the complex characters whom are luckily enough to call this place "home" past and present. After spending time with this book, now I understand why Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie moved to the French Quarter. There is a reason celebrities love this place, now and then. It is a special spot. Like none other. After reading the book, many will better "get it." They will be moved to visit. Like the book says, many who come to help out, stay. Thumbs up! Long live the Vieux Carré! Anyone who reads this book will want to be counted in among those who love and seek to save this glorious national landmark treasure! A book to inspire and move all. Tonight I am going to dig out my Tennessee Williams works and start re-reading them!
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