Synopses & Reviews
Andrea di Robilant was born in Italy and educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in international affairs. He is the author of A Venetian Affair
, Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon
, and Irresistible North: From Venice to Greenland on the Trail of the Zen Brothers
. He lives in Rome.
"Di Robilant takes readers on a gentle meander in this memoir inspired by a rose he discovered while researching the biography of his great-great-great-great-grandmother, Lucia Mocenigo, a friend of Josephine Bonaparte, which became A Venetian Affair (2003). Although di Robilant's family had not been connected to the small town of Alvisopoli in the Venetian countryside for 100 years, he was curious about the town and set out to see it for himself. On a visit, a caretaker showed him a fragrant, silvery pink rose the locals called rosa moceniga, but no one had been able to identify its origins. Of course, for a writer and historical researcher, that's a delicious challenge. Di Robilant researches the history of the rose in France and Italy in search of this special rose's beginnings. Along the way, he meets a variety of eccentrics, such as Eleonora Garlant and her garden of 1,500 roses (and growing). He also learns the anecdotes behind many of the named roses, including the Baltimore Belle, named for Elizabeth Patterson, who married Napoleon's younger brother JÃ©rome; and the Catherine de WÃ¼rttembeg, the woman Napoleon forced JÃ©rome to marry. History and anecdote abound on this entertaining journey with di Robilant on his quest to get the rose officially named by the American Rose Society." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
From the author of the best-selling A Venetian Affair
, here is the charming chronicle of his search for the identity of a mysterious old rose. Andrea di Robilant’s tale takes us back to the time of Josephine Bonaparte, as well as into some of the most delightful rose gardens in Italy today, brought to colorful life on the page in the watercolors of artist Nina Fuga.
In his 2008 biography of the Venetian lady Lucia Mocenigo (his great-great-great-great- grandmother), di Robilant described a pink rose that grows wild on the family’s former country estate, mentioning its light peach-and-raspberry scent. This passing detail led to an invitation for an audience with a local rose doyenne, Eleonora Garlant. She and other experts wondered if di Robilant’s unnamed rose could possibly be one of the long-lost China varieties that nineteenth-century European growers had cultivated but which have since disappeared. On the hunt for the identity of his anonymous yet quietly distinctive rose, Di Robilant finds himself captivated by roseophiles through time––from Lucia and her friend Josephine Bonaparte to the gifted Eleonora, whose garden of nearly fifteen hundred varieties of old roses is one of the most significant in Europe––and by the roses themselves, each of which has a tale to tell.
What starts out as a lighthearted quest becomes a meaningful journey as di Robilant contemplates the enduring beauty of what is passed down to us in a rose, through both the generosity of nature and the cultivating hand of human beings, who for centuries have embraced and extended the life of this mysterious flower.