The Paper Garden: By Molly Peacock (195)

This is a beautifully written book. The art work in the book is mesmerizing and bold. I just loved them! Each of them could be framed.

This is a story about Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700 to 1788). She was the witty, beautiful and talented daughter of a minor branch of a powerful family. She was married off at seventeen to a sixty-one-year-old drunken squire to improve the family fortunes. He was widowed by twenty-five. She spurned many suitors over the next twenty years, including the charismatic Lord Baltimore, and she would also refuse to retire to a quiet, pensioned existence.

Instead, she cultivated a wide circle of friends, including Handel and Jonathan Swift. And she painted, stitched, and observed as she swirled in the outskirts of the Georgian court. In Mid-life she finally found love, and married again.

Upon her second husband’s death twenty-three years later, she arose from her grief, picked up a pair of scissors and at the age of seventy-two crated a new art form, mixed media collage.

Over the next decade, Mrs. Delany created an astonishing 985 botanically correct, breathtaking cut paper flowers, now housed in the British Museum and referred to as the Flora Delanica.

Delicately, Molly Peacock has woven parallels in her own life around the story of Mrs. Delany’s and in doing so has made this biography into a profound and beautiful examination of the nature of creativity and art.

Gorgeously designed and featuring thirty full colour illustrations, this is a wonderfully lively book full of fashion and friendships, gossip and politics, letters and love.

I loved this book from beginning to end. It is a book that I will read and reread and never put too far away from my gaze.

Rating: 5 stars

Irene S. Roth

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About irenesroth

I am a freelance and academic writer. I am currently writing a book called `Fearless Freelance Writers`. Please look out for it soon on this blog.
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