cloth, 198 p., $29.95
Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens is a comparative analysis of English gardening books from the 16th through the 18th century. Author Rebecca Bushnell seeks to identify the potential readership for these works and their motives for such knowledge. She also relates the weaknesses in the literature of the time; these include, but are not limited to, “curiosities” and incredible methods to produce new “wonders” in the plant world.
Bushnell, a distinguished academic, acknowledges in her book’s introduction that readership for such a publication is limited. One unfortunate factor in this narrow readership stems from her own writing style: she has pitched the information to a specific level of readership, that is, university students of English literature and other academics. Green Desire is basically a book about literary research. Gardeners may be disappointed that the author does not develop the subject further, probing the religious, political and economic factors the spurred the evolution of these early gardening books.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden.