on 14 September 2014
Impressive, well put together, and at times even moving, the book includes some discussion of how and why the gardens of Le Notre were not just simple, rather boring, over-grand displays. But in some ways it is also frustrating and disappointing. Having read that he was singularly sensitive to difficult and asymmetrical sites, being able to accept their limitations to turn them into triumphs, with Chantilly and Sceaux mentioned in particular, I had hoped that such a comprehensive and major book would analyse a selection of his best work in some detail. But there is very little analysis at all, and what there is suffers from a lack of integration of the text and illustrations. For all the detailed discussion of the gardens of Versailles, both of the main vista and of certain elements, there is no map clearly identifying the features mentioned or discussed. Maybe there was only space for the briefest discussion of his work, but without his work there would be no point in producing the book. And the final section on his influence was often particularly unsatisfying - all too often it seemed to amount to little more than that this or that element of the classical French garden was incorporated in the different designs.