A facsimile of the ravishing album of Le Nôtre’s plans and elevations of the gardens at Chantilly, with its Chinoiserie kiosk, pavilions, stables, canals, walks etc. It was given to the ‘Comte du Nord’ and his wife, a transparent pseudonym for the future Tsar Paul I and his wife, Maria Feodorovna, travelling incognito. They visited Chantilly in June 1782, when they were given the album. The original was bought back by the French in the 1930s when the Soviets sold the contents of the imperial library. Text in French.
This astute, delightful book has its origin in a series of columns Thorpe did in the TLS. He cannot write a dull or awkward sentence; and as you would expect from the author of Ulverton, Silbury Hill, etc, it bristles with treasures.
Who would have expected a Romain Gary revival? Yet the success earlier this year of his novel ‘The Kites’ was real, and this, his autobiography, remains as wild and romantic as ever. Brought up in poverty in Eastern Europe, he became an ace pilot, hero of the Resistance, diplomat, a denizen of the Cote d’Azur and one of the most famous French writers of the C20th.
A riveting biography of the Scottish economist John Law who became Controller General of Finance in France during the minority of Louis XV. He was also the richest private citizen in Europe with ideas astonishingly ahead of his time, including a preference for paper money and central banking. His ship turned turtle when the Mississippi Company bubble burst; thereafter he lived from gambling and died a poor man in Venice.
As well as excellent books on Poland and, most recently, ‘Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1798-1848, Zamoyski has written about Napoleon’s Russian campaign (1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow) and its aftermath (Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna). This biography should be outstanding.