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The French Gardener: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Santa Montefiore
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $10.38
You Save: $4.61 (31%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

A neglected garden. A cottage that holds a secret. A mysterious Frenchman (handsome, naturally). A family in need of some love. These elements are entwined in this heartwarming novel by the author reviewers consistently compare to Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher.

It begins as Miranda and David Claybourne move into a country house with a once-beautiful garden. But reality turns out to be very different from their dream. Soon the latent unhappiness in the family begins to come to the surface, isolating each family member in a bubble of resentment and loneliness.

Then an enigmatic Frenchman arrives on their doorstep. With the wisdom of nature, he slowly begins to heal the past and the present. But who is he? When Miranda reads about his past in a diary she finds in the cottage by the garden, the whole family learns that a garden, like love itself, can restore the human spirit, not just season after season but generation after generation.

Wise and winsome, poignant and powerfully moving, The French Gardener is a contemporary story told with an old-fashioned sensibility steeped in the importance of family and the magical power of love.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Montefiore's well-crafted, evocative novel is instantly sensual and welcoming. When Miranda Claybourne's seven-year-old is expelled from school, the stylish Londoner, magazine writer and mother of two, ditches her posh Notting Hill digs for the idylls of a country estate. But her simple-life fantasies soon fail. Her husband's preoccupied with his job and his mistress; the kids lash out at each other while Gus, the elder, terrorizes both farm animals and his new classmates. Enter Jean-Paul, a handsome, mysterious Frenchman with an offer to tend her woefully neglected gardens. Cleaning out the estate's rundown cottage for Jean-Paul, she discovers the secret journals of the previous lady of the house—a brilliant gardener, Ava Lightly, and her love affair. As if by magic, Miranda's garden begins to thrive and she owes it all to Jean-Paul, with whom she thinks she's falling in love. The drama of the journals distract from her own failing marriage, and Miranda delights in the idea that her life is running parallel to Ava's—it's a lovely coincidence, until she stops to consider exactly what may have drawn Jean-Paul into her garden. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A rambling country estate may have lured Miranda and David and their children from their elegant London lifestyle, but not even the enchantment of once magnificent gardens, or fascination with an abandoned cottage can mend the emotional and physical chasm that is deepening between them. Left alone while David returns to London during the week, Miranda is overwhelmed by establishing a new home, disciplining an unruly child, and maintaining her own career. Her prayers are seemingly answered when a charismatic Frenchman suddenly appears with an offer to restore the gardens to their former glory. As the friendship between Miranda and Jean-Paul grows, so do her suspicions about David’s fidelity, leading Miranda to seek refuge in an abandoned diary that details a passionate tryst between the estate’s former owner, Ava, and her intriguingly unnamed gardener. Despite the obvious D. H. Lawrence overtones, Montefiore crafts a sweetly provocative romance that transitions seamlessly from Miranda’s contemporary marital discord to Ava’s past affair. --Carol Haggas

Product Details

  • File Size: 2428 KB
  • Print Length: 433 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 2, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,368 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is no garden of eden March 30, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The French Gardener: A Novel

I basically purchased this book because of the positive reviews I read on Amazon. And while the book has a certain charm it is was not of the caliber that I had hoped. First off, the book gets off to a very, very slow start, to the point where I was tempted to put it down. However, I hate starting books and not completing so, I read on. Sure enough the last quarter of the book picked up.

Here is the problem, the book reads like a drug store paperback. You know the kind you took away to the beach when you were 14 and dying for a little romance. The characters are not developed, the plot is silly, and you know how the book is going to end 100 pages before you get there. I was not looking for War and Peace but, give me a little intellect. The most fun in the book is listening to the main character Miranda talk about the goodies in her closet, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Gucci ect... but I wasn't reading the Devil Wears Prada! Nor do I want to. The book I read before this was The Help. Which was an extraordinary, rich character driven novel. That may have been why I was so disappointed it was like going from a fine crisp Montrachet to a glass of Boone's Farm strawberry wine. Only a 14 year old could love it!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Summer Book July 3, 2009
Seldom does a book come a long that you can just feel your body relax and you just melt away into the story. For me, this summer, The French Gardener did just that.

This book spins two tales that are brought together by a single French gardener and his story of love that could not be and a garden that hold the secret that is slowly told through a scrapbook read by a woman that has a similar story but is not the intended recipient. That may sound confusing but this gentle paced story unfolds in a way that you see the beauty but don't want the love story to come to an end.

Stuck in an isolated country house Miranda has the life that she though she would like; that is until she realizes that her high fashion life and mud don't always come together. Her husband is away at work if he`s not with his mistress, her son is in constant trouble at school, she has no friends, no life, nothing but this rotten garden that was once a showplace.

So what's a girl to do, she hires a French gardener to put the garden to rights and with it a story that will bind them all together in a way that they never thought possible.

Montefiore creates wonderfully likeable characters each with a voice and a story of their own. You can feel the garden, the town, the people and the heartache that must be endured for there to even possibly be a happily ever after.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Unfortunate Disappointment October 16, 2012
After reading this book, it felt like I just spend 10 hours viewing a Picasso in watercolor and on construction paper. The work was certainly there but the true art of developing a good story was missing. It was a book of many "other" books which gave it little originality. The French Gardener is filled with subterfuges and superficialities, especially when it comes to deep heart issues.

Pardon the brevity of my review but I'd rather be curled up near a warm fireplace, reading a really good book.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Glad I Got This Book for Free... April 2, 2010
Normally this isn't my usual type of reading but since I did get this book as a gift I decided to give it a try. Big mistake. All I got when I finished reading was a feeling of disappointment.

The plot goes like this: Miranda, David, and their two children Storm and Gus move to the country. Seems their son Gus has gotten himself kicked out of another London school for biting another student. David still works in the city and lives there during the week, taking the train to visit his family on the weekends. But Miranda is stuck adapting to country life and raising their two kids on her own. Which makes sense since David has a mistress in London. In fact when the reader is given David's POV we are told that he has it all "the perfect family is Dorset and the perfect mistress in London". Lovely. And then if we weren't already aware of David's selfishness he goes on to say that although he loves his wife, "his wife could hardly expect him to remain celibate all week".

Running alongside the present-day story is one that happened years ago between the old owners of the house (Ava and Phillip) and their gardener Jean-Paul. Which ties in to the present in that Miranda and her children, with the help of a recently returned Jean-Paul, begin to restore the gardens to their former glory. While Miranda reads Ava's memories of the past it seems history is repeating itself in Miranda's family.

By the time David actually notices and cares that his family has essentially replaced him it is too late. An old friend of the family is coming for a visit and David's perfect life is about to implode. Or as the book says "he risked everything and lost". Which by now I was pretty much hoping he'd loose it all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pass this one by August 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too wordy, trite plot and the only romance that rang true was Henrietta and the farmer; you really were pulling for them. The rest of the book was formulaic. And as a gardener, it was annoying to have the wrong things flowering at the wrong times!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars is a very good read.
I found this book very interesting, is a very good read.
Published 5 days ago by Barbara
3.0 out of 5 stars The French Gardener
I got bored half way through Too much garden description. ON and on. And the love affair although beautiful I found Jean Paul way too needy a bit soap opera over the top for me
Published 8 days ago by Saundra Carson
5.0 out of 5 stars Make a movie!
Great read, good parallel story...would make for a wonderful movie!
Published 14 days ago by Deborah Finnemore
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read with descriptions that draw you in.
The descriptive writing in this book is can picture the gardens, the people and the houses. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Patricia J. Emerick
5.0 out of 5 stars reminiscent of Bridges of Madison County
A beautiful painful love story of people who paid a high price for their sins. A story of a parents love of their children.
Published 17 days ago by Marie F.
5.0 out of 5 stars So worth it!
The start was a little slow hard to get into once I did I couldn't put it down. I immediately looked for other stories by Santa Montefiore
Published 17 days ago by DonaB
5.0 out of 5 stars A fully developed story with lingering images.
I kept this book on my device because I'm sure I will want to read it again this winter. Meaningful characters and the story is developed much like the garden. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars To be honest I read the beginning of the first book listed and hadn't...
I bought this thinking I was buying complete book. That it is most certainly not! You are purchasing the beginning paragrahs of a couple of books for this particular author. Read more
Published 19 days ago by teufel
4.0 out of 5 stars ... rural England (very well described) and the characters are...
Interesting book - the setting is rural England (very well described) and the characters are terribly human with parenting problems, and infidelity (with a family friend which... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Beth L. Bristow
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic comes from love that is shared...
That is the main theme of this book and the tale of love in this book is well woven between the past and present and sheds light on a future to come. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Laurie
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More About the Author

Santa Montefiore was born in England. She went to Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She has written fourteen bestselling novels which are translated into thirty different languages and have sold well over than 2 million copies worldwide. She lives with her husband, the historian and broadcaster Simon Sebag-Montefiore, and their two children in London.
For more information please visit her website at
Instagram: santamontefioreauthor
Facebook: Santa Sebag-Montefiore and Santa Montefiore Books

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