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32
4.3 out of 5 stars
Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History
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111 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2008
As a great collector of all things Vita Sackville-West, Harold Nicolson and Sissinghurst, I leapt on this book as it appeared. But did I really need it? Surely I have read everything printed about Sissinghurst, Vita and Harold, and visited the garden twice, what could it give me? Well for a start Adam Nicolson writes with more facility, imagination and poetry than either of his famous grand parents. A poetic grace, so beautifully expressed, that Vita would have killed to have had. Yes this is prose and not poetry, but Nicolson, like Virginia Woolf can make prose sound like poetry. In this book Nicolson re-examines Sissinghurst from its historic beginnings, to its "decline" to a tourist attraction. His dealings with the National Trust are fascinating, and believable. I found touching his writing of his father, Nigel, Harold and Vita's second son. Nigel, as a son of a most unconventional marriage, it is no wonder his world was really quite dysfunctional. I rather think the conservative Vita, Harold and Nigel would rather be alarmed at what most of Adam has written. For this reason the book is fascinating.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2010
About 12 years ago my wife and I stayed a week in the B&B Sissinghurst Castle Farm nextdoor to the actual garden. Being a member of the National trust we could visit every day just before closing time. Between 4 and 5 it was generally very quiet. Most coaches had gone. And the majority of other visitors were either having tea or browsing through the shop buying mementoes. We subsequently have great memories of Sissinghurst. Walking in the cornfields surrounding it at night added a dimension we will not easily forget. Not to speak of the crooked floors and the wonderful breakfasts in the B&B. Recent reading about all this brings back many happy memories. But not only that. We share Adam Nicolson's thoughts and feelings about it too. Sissinghurst is/was a timecapsule that needed a fresh approach. With his wonderful book he has drawn attention to this and I must say: In a blooming way! I found it a thrill to read and thinks he is just as talented as his relatives were. Perhaps good writing is in the genes after all... And to get a complete picture perhaps the readers of this review should also read A portrait of a marriage, The Garden and The Edwardians. Each of these books is a complement to this great Adam Nicolson book. I immediately ordered three other titles...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2010
As of 2008, Adam Nicholson turned 45. He has been living in the part of Elizabethan manor house in Sissinghurst Castle since his birth. He clearly remembers his grandparents, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, who were the founders of Sissinghurst Garden, and pieces of furniture which Vita had brought from the Knole House. The history of Sissinghurst dates back the 16th century and Adam Nicholson includes a number of letters, documents, and images of coins and treasures, part of which were broken, which would be relevant to the development of Sissinghurst in the book. The collection of documents include the survey of shrubs, plants, and trees grown in and around Sissinghurst between the 16th and 17th century, and this evidence helped Vita and Harold restore the cottage garden which are beautifully harmonised with the poignant ruins of Elizabethan manor house. He throughly discovered the history of Sissinghurst and buildings and farm near Sissinhurst, describes the events and incidents, and conveys the insights of the charming house, furniture which Vita used, formal garden. He has recruited a number of volunteer staff, appreciates their hard work and discloses his ambition, i.e. further development on the extensive farmland and woodland, and integration of the farmland and historic house and garden.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2009
A beautifully written, atmospheric book which took me back to an idyllic, hot summer's day at Sissinghurst. Mr Nicholson portrays the frustrations of trying to cope with a treasured posession which is owned by someone else with great 'diplomacy'. An absorbing and relaxing read...
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 December 2008
I own every book Adam Nicolson has written. He writes beautiful prose and he writes with great sincerity and feeling. This was another book in the same glorious tradition and immensely enjoyable. Precious few authors can write as well as this
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2009
An extremely interesting history of Sissinghurst from its creation thro the hands of the gardeners of Vita Sackville West & Harold Nicholson to the plans which their grandson Adam Nicolson is attempting to get the Natiooanl Trust to accept. That the land should be farmed again - with some of the produce being sold in the House restaurant. An up hill task to persuade the NT that this should be done.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2012
The TV series was undignified. Adam attempts to negotiate with the National Trust, staff and other interested parties to reunite Sissinghurst estate and castle was not welcomed with open arms. The book explains his approach and belief it could be done and could work. It's a shame he wasn't able to succeed; perhaps he will in the future. Having known and loved Sissinghurst all my life I enjoyed reading its unfinished history and hopes for the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I absolutely loved this book. It is beautifully written and at the same time helps you to understand so much about history, botany and agriculture. I now want to visit the gardens and see the place for myself but it has also given me insight into other similar projects and is teaching me (I am reading it slowly) to open my eyes and really see.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2009
Great for frustrated gardeners to read on a winter day when home gardening has come to a stop.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2010
The book is well-written and most interesting. It is engrossing to read about the work and organization
necessary to run such an estate in an economical way.
Fascinating is the history of the region - I have visited Sissinghurst only twice - 25 years ago and 10 years later. If I am able in the coming years to visit again I feel that I would be most impressed. Congratulations on an Unfinished History!
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