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The Paper Garden Kindle Edition

57 customer reviews

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Length: 416 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Intelligent and well read, a quintessential member of the British aristocracy but with a mind of her own, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788) was a late bloomer. Born to a noble family of moderate fortune, she was married, first at 17 to a much older, drunken aristocrat, in midlife, more happily, she married a loving Irish clergyman. Widowed, she began at age 72 her remarkable art of cutting and creating the 985 floral "mosaicks" as she termed them—a precursor to collage. Delany rubbed elbows with Handel, Hogarth, Jonathan Swift, King George III, and Queen Charlotte. But Delany was even more fortunate to come under the wing of a duchess who brought the cutting work to the attention of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Horace Walpole. Poet Peacock's (The Second Blush) hymn to Delany weaves in her own life and discovery of her subject and of course all the viewings of those astonishing orchid "mosaicks." 35 color illus. (Apr.)
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“The volume itself is a craft object, sumptuously presented and designed, on fine paper, with colophons and decorations, and full-page colour reproductions. . . .  The Paper Garden will be everyone’s favourite Christmas present this year.” 
 — Victoria Glendinning, The Globe and Mail

“Like collage itself, The Paper Garden is carefully layered—part fascinating biography . . . part gripping memoir, . . .  accompanied by dozens of vivid photo reproductions. Beautifully written and rendered.” 
 — Maclean’s

Complementing her research, Peacock's prose is a delight. . . . A fascinating, uplifting and beautiful book.” 
 — Claire Holden Rothman, The Gazette (Montreal)

“Rich and poetic. . . . Teeming with life -- and gorgeous colour illustrations.” 
 — Winnipeg Free Press
“The perfect gift for the hardcore book lover [The Paper Garden is] more than a beautiful glimpse at Delany’s very interesting life . . . a considered and shared contemplation on art and creativity.” 
 — January magazine

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1227 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608195236
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 29, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QO961A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,288 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Molly Peacock is a widely anthologized poet, biographer, memoirist,and transplanted New Yorker to Toronto, her adopted city. Her latest work of nonfiction is THE PAPER GARDEN: MRS. DELANY BEGINS HER LIFE'S WORK AT 72, a Canadian bestseller and an Economist Book of the Year, published in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Her most recent collection of poems is THE SECOND BLUSH (W.W. Norton). This fall Molly ventures into short fiction with ALPHABETIQUE, OR TALES FROM THE LIVES OF THE LETTERS magically illustrated by Kara Kosaka, published by McClelland & Stewart. As a New Yorker, she helped create Poetry in Motion on the subways and buses; in Toronto she founded THE BEST CANADIAN POETRY IN ENGLISH. Molly is married to James Joyce scholar Michael Groden.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Joyfully Retired on May 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First, let me say that this actual, physical book is a treat. It's exactly what I want when I spend money on a hardcover book. It's just a bit heavier than most books and it's printed on high-quality paper. There are colored prints of some of Mary Delany's flower "mosaicks" and other pictures throughout. The book is the type of treasure that I feel compelled to wash my hands before opening it. I want it to last.

The story of Mary Delany is true but it reads like a great historical novel. The New York Times said it read like a Jane Austen novel. I'm not sure I agree. Mary Delany was a strong-willed woman who managed to do very well in spite of whatever negatives life may have thrown at her. It's a life to be examined and works of art to be enjoyed.

Every word, sentence, and paragraph of The Paper Garden reads like a well-crafted prose or poem. This is Molly Peacock's art form, her craft, and she's very, very good at it. In this book Ms. Peacock talks about the art of Mary Delany but also about the importance of art or craft in one's life that I completely agree with. Here's what she said:

"Craft is engaging. It results in a product. The mind works in a state of meditation in craft, almost the way we half-meditate in heavy physical exercise. There is a marvelously obsessive nature to craft that allows a person to dive down through the ocean of everyday life to a sea floor of meditative making. It is an antidote to what ails you."

In The Paper Garden the author tells us in great detail about the life of Mary Delany and a little bit about herself. I liked that. Molly Peacock made this biography personal and linked it to herself and to me.
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112 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Z. Myers on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Delany's life story and art are amazing and enthralling. While Molly Peacock deserves credit for reintroducing Mary Delany's life and art, she misses the mark by injecting her own life and 21st century sensibilities. I've not read Molly Peacock's poetry, but she describes her early poetry as being sexually graphic, and unfortunately, graphic sexual images seem to be the reoccurring prism through which she sees Mary Delany's 18th century life and art, and it doesn't work. Similarly, Molly Peacock compares her life and family to Mary Delany's, and though she tells it in an engaging way, the book should be about Mary Delany, not Molly Peacock. I was intrigued by Mary Delany and subsequently ordered a 2004 British book, Mrs. Delany: Her life and her flowers, by Ruth Hayden, a descendant of Mary Delany's. This is the book you want to read if you want to know about Mary Delany, her life in 18th century England and Ireland, the people she knew, and her art.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Holly VINE VOICE on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'd never heard of Mary Delany before I read this book. Her mosaicks are beautiful and her story is compelling. The book is a combination biography and memoir. Molly Peacock weaves her own story in and among Mary Delany's and her observations are interesting and somewhat thought-provoking. This isn't a book to rush through but it was still too slow for me. It was also much more scholarly than I'd anticipated and at times almost reads like a textbook.

I had a really hard time getting into it. It fascinated me, it didn't resonate with me. I do think that The Paper Garden is one I could go back to at some point in my life and savor it then, as I can't now. Sometimes appreciation of a book is all about timing. Mine seems to be outside the norm, however, and many other reviews are glowing and very positive.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Victoria Taylor Allen on May 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Parts of this book were fascinating, but the author dwells too much on her own personal experiences, all of which, I am certain are interesting to her, but not to the reader, or to this reader, at least. I wasn't sure, either, why the author used four letter words, graphic descriptions of people's bathroom habits and descriptions of her (the author's) sex life. What did that have to do with the subject of the book? Ms. Peacock had much information to recount, but she didn't stay on the topic of Mrs. Delany, whose life and art were far more interesting than the author's. Too bad, a good biography that just misses because it doesn't stay on the topic.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Aunt Vee on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
By page 40 of the book, I realized two things. One, that although I'd never heard of Mary Delany (the artist)before, her life story was going to be interesting, and two, that Molly Peacock (the author) isn't someone I like very much. As other reviewers have remarked, there is simply too much Molly Peacock in this book. In purchasing the book about Mary Delany, I didn't need or want to know about Molly Peacock's alcoholic father or her marriages and, after the first 40 pages, I found it more satisfying to skip the sections on Molly. And I don't know about you, but I can look at a flower and recognize it as the sexual organ of a plant without translating all its bits to corresponding bits on people. That Molly Peacock apparently cannot becomes off-putting pretty quickly. Molly Peacock is just too pretentious - and somehow through this, the interesting story of Mary Delany comes through enough that you want to get to know her much better but preferably without having Molly forced onto you at same time. Mary's story demonstrates that strong, independent women have been around for a very long time - and while I'm grateful to be introduced to her, I wish it could have been without all of Molly's baggage.
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