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Earthly Joys

(Tradescant #1)

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  6,656 ratings  ·  416 reviews
#1 New York Times bestselling author and "queen of royal fiction" (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory brings to life the passionate, turbulent times of seventeenth-century England as seen through the eyes of the country's most famous royal gardener.

John Tradescant's fame and skill as a gardener are unsurpassed in seventeenth-century England, but it is his clear-sighted honesty
Paperback, 516 pages
Published June 7th 2005 by Washington Square Press (first published April 6th 1998)
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Kasia James
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Phillipa Gregory's books are, to me, a bit like junk food. I know that they aren't good for me, but I somehow can't stop.
They aren't good for me in the sense that being based on real historical characters, and to some extent real events, they seduce you into thinking that they are real history, but of course they are purely fiction. However, I'm aware that her story will get lodged in the strange recesses of my brain, and at some point I'll recall parts of the story as fact.
That said, they are
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How delightful to be back reading Philippa's smooth and tranquil prose. I have a strong fondness for this authors writing and I take a lot of joy in reading her superb books so she mostly gets a high rating from me.

This book is no exception, we follow the story of John Tradescant and his journey through life and through servitude to his masters. Unbeknownst to me Tradescant was a real person from the 1570's to 1637 and served various royal courtiers/advisers as their gardener. I held off the
I thoroughly enjoyed this story - the second novel featuring the Duke of Buckingham that I've read within a month! I found Gregory's prose easy to read, her assuredness in her historical detail very gratifying, and her protagonists - all of them - highly sympathetic (but most particularly John Tradescant the elder, the gardener and a man's man in every sense of the word). The battle scenes were sufficiently repulsive without being actually sickening. I've yet to find many novels about gay men ...more
Jun 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay-historical
I wouldn’t say “if you aren’t into gardening, don’t get this,” but you WILL appreciate it a lot more if you have an inkling of gardening and plants. It’s the story of a very famous – and one of the first “celebrity” gardeners, John Tradescant who was a gardener to many famous people during the reign of three monarchs, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I.

She paints a very believable picture of John, his family and his life. John is a man who must belong to a master, that’s how his life has always
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked this book, and learned quite a bit about King James's court, King Charles, and the Duke of Buckingham. Further research told me that the main character of this book was, in fact a real person, and this account was true. I think she took a few more liberties with the writing of this book than some of the others. This was probably because John Tradescent was a Gardener and had a lot less recorded about him than royalty and nobels did. This book discusses homosexual behaviors in the courts ...more
- ̗̀ whoreofbookboyfriends ̖́-

Okay, first I’d like to start off with saying that this year I’m taking it lightly, not even setting a goodreads goal, I’m just gonna read how much I like, I don’t really care about the numbers.

Okay, let’s get to this book. Well, first of all when it became clear to me that Philippa Gregory was one of my favorite authors I obviously went ahead and checked out all her books on Goodreads and it was quite clear that this one book was rated quite low. Now I didn’t know why. So I looked up some one
B the BookAddict
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction & garden lovers
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads
Shelves: hist-fiction
I will add that a few readers have made negative comments about the relationship between John Tradescant and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Really! It is only about four (4) lines worth in the entire book; hardly worth a mention. But if you don't want to read a description about a gay encounter, then don't read a book shelved as GLBT!

I don't think I could review this book any better than this:

I am going straight on to Virgin Earth!
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans, Philippa Gregory fans
This is my favourite Philippa Gregory book since The Queen's Fool. I'm not super familiar with the whole James I/Charles I period, so seeing it all through the lens of John Tradescant, master gardener to the STARS, was fascinating and fun. Loved all the stuff about gardening, loved all the stuff about the CRAZY tulip bulb stock market, loved all the stuff about the shifting attitudes to religion and service, loved the tiny bit of hot gay action - loved it. Can't wait to read the second book ...more
Sep 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
Actually detested the book. Slow, very little to like about any of the characters. Quit reading half way through and then skipped extremely quickly to see what happened at the end. Disgusting, vulgar, boring, nothing at all to make it worth your time.
Luanne Ollivier
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While mysteries and suspense are my favourite genres, I do enjoy historical fiction as well. I've often had patrons at the library recommend Philippa Gregory to me. Earthly Joys is the first book I've read by Gregory.

Earthly Joys opens in 1603 with the death of Queen Elizabeth and the succession of her cousin King James VI of Scotland - the beginning the Stuart reign of England. Earthly Joys is written through the eyes of and life of gardener John Tradescant. It was only on further investigation
The Idle Woman
Philippa Gregory takes a step outside her Tudor / War of the Roses comfort zone in this thoroughly enjoyable book set in early 17th-century England and focusing on the comparatively unfamiliar figure of John Tradescant the Elder. The most celebrated horticulturalist and naturalist of the age, Tradescant served successively as gardener to Sir Robert Cecil and the Duke of Buckingham - a task which takes him across Europe in search of new and exotic specimens for his lords' gardens. Many of the ...more
I am not the biggest fan of Philippa Gregory. I had read three of her books previous to this and two of them were 2 star reads (and low 2 stars at that) and the other was a DNF. As a result, I was a bit dubious about picking up another of her works. However, the premise of this one intrigued me and I wasn't overly familiar with the main character, John Tradescant, so I decided to give it a go. Whilst I didn't love it by any means, I did enjoy it a lot more than I expected to. I thought Gregory ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
My girlfriend can attest to the fact that I never cry except for if it's over a math exam or rude customer service, but this book felt like a good, cleansing cry. It was so incredibly sad and yet beautiful in its sadness.
Jordan Taylor
Although I normally read books quite quickly, I stretched out my reading of this one over a few days. The vividly portrayed Renaissance England setting, the complex, familiar characters, and the interesting, steady flow of the plot line made me want to stay in this story longer than I usually do with others.

“Earthly Joys” is about John Tradescant, a gardener in the time of King James I. While other men entwine themselves in politics and charge eagerly off to war, John is content to nurture
Stef Rozitis
.Well written, complex historical fiction; this book did a lot to call into question things like heteronormativity and the gender order and showed some problems associated with the gender order and with class. That was all to the good.

What I didn't enjoy was spending quite so much time with the unlikeable John Tradescant who could be servile with his "masters" and quite dismissive and emotionally stingy with his wife. Wives seemed in the book to be less human beings than resources to be
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it
This is Philippa Gregory’s usual well written story of English royalty and the politics, intrigue, deception and corruption of 17th century England. King James is newly crowned the King of England and he has surrounded himself with loyal trusted advisors such as Cecil Roberts and the Duke of Buckingham. The story is told from the point of view of John Tradescant, the gardener for these men. John’s skill as a gardener catches the attention of the powerful men of England who want to create a ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I felt the story was compelling; it was easy for me to want to read more. The characters were complex and learned and changed as they grew. It also inspired me to do more with my garden! It reminded me once again how much we take tulips for granted...
I was very interested in the history behind it. Most of the characters are real, I understand. Was the main character a real person? This is a period of time I know less about than other periods (Elizabethan, for example, or Georgian and later), so
Jul 13, 2009 rated it liked it
I just finished this book by Philippa Gregory. In my opinion it was not her best work. My favorite of hers would be "The Other Boleyn Girl". However, the theme was very interesting. The book is based on the story of a head gardener for the king Charles I of England and previously to several other important historical figures such as the Duke of Buckingham and Sir Robert Cecil. He was a most respected gardener who was also a botanist and traveller and who introduced many species of plants, trees ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While I admit I don't love all Gregory's books, I did enjoy The White Queen series and this one is just stunning. It's based on a true story - John Tradescant does appear to have been not only gardener to Cecil and Buckingham, but also their entrusted servant. His gradual disillusionment with the divine right of kings, the bedrock of his world view, goes hand in hand with the growth of his obsessive love for the man at the centre of his world. While I wouldn't suggest anyone who hates gardening ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Title: Earthly Joys
Author: Philippa Gregory
Read by: David Rintoul
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 17 hours and 46 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster. Thank-you!

John Trandescant is the gardener for Lord Robert Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I’s trusted advisor. John takes great pleasure in creating and maintaining beautiful gardens and likes being a man that Earl Cecil is trust. After Queen Elizabeth’s death, James I of Scotland comes to rule over England. What
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Among the last pages of the book is A Touchstone Reading Group Guide. Discussion point 6 states in part: "John describes his love for the Duke after they have sex as being wholly different from the love between a man and a woman....Do you think he is being unfaithful to Elizabeth?"
The answer to this question, I realized, is no. This is the automatic answer that came to my mind. I find this perspective interesting because it never really occurred to me that John was actually being unfaithful to
Oct 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF. Not a good book, I'm afraid. Very slow, and the main character behaves in very strange and inexplicable ways. The only good thing here is the garden descriptions, but that's not enough to hold my interest or a whole novel.
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book. Such vivid pictures painted. At times John Tradescant is a very frustrating figure; blind to the injustice going on around him, but for the most part a great peek into gardening and the lives of royalty and commoners alike in the 1600's.
Sara Giacalone
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an interesting period for me as I don't know much about James I or Charles I... and I certainly love reading about gardening in the 17th century. It's not my favorite time period though, the Puritans are really a downer.
Karl Goerz
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Know that if I did not have a love for botany I would have given three stars.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
The story is set just prior to the English civil war in the reigns of Charles I & his son James I (who were both led astray by the Duke of Buckingham). Their derelict management of the wealth the first Tudors had amassed for the throne was told from the point of view of the gardener John Tradescant.
Tradescant is a botanist as well as a gardener and friend to Lord Cecil Elizabeth's adviser who arraigned the ascension of King James of Scotland to the Tudor throne. Tradescant is simply loyal
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read the sequel first and this one second, but I still enjoyed this story very much, and having developed some foreknowledge of the characters didn't leave me feeling that I always knew what was coming, even if I did to a large degree - especially as I neared the end of the book. Still, given the do-over, I would read them in sequence, I think.

My mom read Virgin Earth after I did, and she was interested to learn that there was a book that preceded it. I am a little wary of passing it on to
E Wilson
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it

For the first half of the book I was saying to myself "There is no way a gardener would be so chummy with the nobility he worked for. And he wouldn't be a traveling companion with them." Then I
looked up John Tradescant and discovered that he did go on several
expeditions and military campaigns. I'm still not convinced that his employers would use him as a confidant or seek his advise on anything other than gardening.
He was obviously an intelligent man and a dedicated gardener. On
all his
BeccaAudra Smith
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think partly I enjoy this book because I was obsessed with My Secret Garden as a kid, the description of spring and nature of this release from the imprisonment of human life. The idea in Earthly Joys that John Tradescant will live forever through his plants is a reference point. It's a large book, and some of it is repetitive. On page 71 the smell of John's new born son is referenced, but that must be an error because John doesn't have a sense of smell, he's a gardener through his eyes and he ...more
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
John Tradescant (the elder) was one of the most skilled and famous gardeners in English history. He originally makes his mark creating gardens for Sir Robert Cecil before moving to Essex to work for the infamous George Villiers, favorite of kings James I and Charles I. Eventually, John’s talents are requested once again – this time by King Charles himself. Philippa Gregory brings John’s love for gardening and botany, as well as his yearning to discover and procure new species of flowers and ...more
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Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the ...more

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Tradescant (2 books)
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