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Radical Prunings: A Novel of Officious Advice from the Contessa of Compost
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Radical Prunings: A Novel of Officious Advice from the Contessa of Compost

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  57 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This rather deceptive work purports to be the collected horticultural columns of one opinionated Mertensia Corydalis. As Mertensia answers her readers’ innocent gardening questions, she reveals more than she intends about her life, her relationships (from her prissy ex-husband to questionable interactions with her employees, Miss Vong and Tran), and her state of mind.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 13th 2005 by Clerisy Press, Emmis Books
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 30, 2010 Bonnie rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
Every once in a while you strike gold while randomly perusing the shelves at the public library. This one had me laughing out loud and wishing I could meet the fictional Miss Corydalis and shake her hand. Each chapter is actually a newsletter called "Radical Prunings", published by Miss Mertensia Corydalis. She is a master gardener who opens each newsletter with some musings about her garden, certain plants she loves or hates, her employees, and her awful ex-husband, celebrity gardener Norton ...more
Tess Julia
Mar 07, 2013 Tess Julia rated it did not like it
I had to put this book down because I found it annoying. I picked it up as part of my reading my way through the library, but the cover threw me off. I had to examine it carefully even though it said it was a novel because it looks so non-fiction.
The reasons I stopped reading it is because the format of a columnist answering gardening questions had me wondering what was the point of the book. I love to garden, but I would never ask advice from someone as nasty as this character. I didn't find it
Aug 10, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Mertensia Corydalis has collected two year's worth of her garden advice columns in this slender volume. (By the way, her names are both, coincidentally, flower names; nongardeners may not know that.) She is opinionated about lawn care (she's against it) and her neighbor, who writes pseudonymous letters which show up among those she answers. She also includes snippets about her life, her assistant and his sister, her secretary, her brother, her mother, her ex-husband, who is one of her ...more
Brett Keniston
Jun 06, 2012 Brett Keniston rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
Fiction for gardeners! Mertensia Corydalis writes a gardening newsletter and gives you glimpses of her life through the anecdotes she shares along the way. There is plenty of humor here and also a bunch of actual gardening advice. The book slows down a bit in the second half when the story starts to take center stage and we begin to see dialogue and description that is way beyond what the character would reasonably include in her newsletter. But that's okay. It's still a fun, fast read with some ...more
Chi Dubinski
Oct 16, 2013 Chi Dubinski rated it it was amazing
A satire of advice columnist written in the tongue-in-cheek style of “Miss Manners” or “Ask Amy.” Mertensia Corydalis dispenses garden advice, and somehow we get caught up in her personal life, and that of her garden boy Tran, and Miss Vang, her administratively challenged assistant. Laugh-out-loud humor!
A truly funny and original book. I recommend this to friends all the time. Apparently the author has published no other books.What a loss!
Jun 25, 2013 Rand added it
Shelves: novel, epistolary
For the Wodehouse set: a garden book with more snark than variety, in every sense.

Because every prose has its Thorne.

sample wit: "senescence: perennial doesn't mean forever".
Aug 20, 2010 Suburbangardener rated it really liked it
"Radical Prunings" had me laughing out loud, especially in the first half of the book. It takes the form of newsletters by the fictional gardening doyenne Mertensia Corydalis, discussing her garden, her employees, her family, and her garden celebrity ex-husband. The best part of the newsletters is the question and answer section, which is filled with saucy wit and good gardening advice. I don't know if a non-gardener would like this book, but gardeners will love it.
May 05, 2011 Kay added it
If you're a gardener how can you resist a book by the Contessa of Compost? I know I couldn't. This one reminded me a bit of Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White. What an enjoyable read. I had to reread bits because she snuck so many little bon mots by me! Her gardener and secretary were a real hoot! If you are a gardener or just want a fun read, this one is for you(and me).
Jan 08, 2011 Catharine rated it really liked it
This was a fun and whimsical read. I love the Dear Abby style letters (but to a gardener) and the witty cutting replies are the highlight of this book. I didn't get as much out of the side relationships that we see in the course of the book. I think this would be an excellent gift to someone who was an avid gardener.
May 15, 2013 Adrienne rated it liked it
A very strange little book. Written as a series of newsletter entries, it doesn't really have any sort of plot but is still entertaining and cute. That's really the best way to describe the. Book, I guess... cute.
Diana Cates
Aug 28, 2009 Diana Cates rated it liked it
Shelves: goal-in-life
An odd short book but it definitely had its funny moments. Especially at the end of the book when she and Tran caught Artie trying to steal from her garden. LOL!
Feb 24, 2008 Laura rated it liked it
This was written by a woman currently living in Clintonville. We read this in my book club and invited the author to come speak. This is a quick, light read full of humor.
Apr 01, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
Very cute. Maybe sometimes a bit too cute. Very heavy on the whimsy. But I liked the wicked sense of humor the book had, and the discriptions of gardening and flowers made me so ready for spring.
Dec 20, 2014 Connie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
If you like to laugh, read this book. It's a really quick read but well worth it for its naughtiness. I don't remember much about it except that I was delighted while reading it.
Very curious, amusing novel in the guise of letters from a gardening advice columnist. I did put it down, but the concept was great and the narrator dryly funny.
Dragonfly rated it it was amazing
Mar 05, 2015
Michelle rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2012
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Jennifer Miera rated it liked it
Apr 26, 2008
Colette Petersen
Colette Petersen rated it it was ok
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Jul 11, 2015
Feb 18, 2008 Rita rated it really liked it
Cute book.
Katie rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2015
Nupur rated it it was amazing
Mar 21, 2008
Lisa Daniels-Roberts
Lisa Daniels-Roberts rated it really liked it
Jul 20, 2014
Courtney Denning
Courtney Denning rated it did not like it
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Julie Fischer
Julie Fischer rated it really liked it
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Nicole Ackley rated it really liked it
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Robin Ripley
Robin Ripley rated it it was ok
Jun 13, 2013
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