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It is hard to praise this biography enough. Not only does it flow with all the pace of a well-written novel, but it conveys all the detail required to portray a rich and complex world without ever overwhelming the reader. One is amazed by the social linkages - for Kipling seemed to know everybody, both passively through his inherited family network, as well as actively through his courting of the great and (often not so) good. Kipling's writings are discussed in relation to his life in enough of detail to return one to the originals or to vow to read what one has hitherto missed. I forged through this biography with Kipling's Collected Verse by my side and found items that I had previously ignored illuminated splendidly by the author's placement of them in context.
In summary: a marvellous read, whether you already know Kipling or not. If you don't, it will send you scurrying to his writings.
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His works reflect this ambiguity. Many of his writings are excellent, for instance the Jungle Book, some of his stories and many of his poems. Lycett has presented an amazingly detailed portrait of Kipling’s adopted class and milieu. But he lacks a novelist’s imagination and ease with language; the biography often just lists Kipling’s possessions, travels, guests and friends. In reflection of Kipling, he smothers his finer understandings in a blanket of conventions. We still need Angus Wilson’s fine book, ‘The strange ride of Rudyard Kipling’, to see the full peculiarity of Kipling’s career.
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Of course, there is still a strong bit of advocacy for an organic approach to gardening. But here, it doesn't edge into discussions of European agricultural policy or the historic despoiling of the British countryside. Instead, explanations of the organic method are an underlying, but essential, part of telling the garden's story
The narrative of how the garden has developed over two decades is an interesting one, and any gardener will enjoy and be inspired by the beautiful photography. And although few of us are able to garden on the Prince's scale, there is still an awful lot in here we can learn from, adapt to our own uses, or blatantly poach -- from simple decorating and arranging ideas to complex schemes of crop rotation or building construction. Helpfully, Highgrove's head gardener, David Howard, includes a chapter explaining how the transition from traditional gardening to organic approaches began, and some of the key techniques he employs and lessons he's learned. This is followed by six entire pages of listings of various types of plants cultivated in the different gardens and illustrated in each chapter. This, especially, may prove to be a handy resource for many readers.
If there's one noticeable drawback to this book, it's that there's no overall map or diagram showing where the various gardens are in relation to one another and the house. All I can think is that (assuming there is a reason for not including one) this may be for security purposes -- though that seems unlikely given the number of photographs already included. But after taking an otherwise thorough tour through the kitchen garden, the walled garden, the box garden, the fountain garden, across the terrace, past the sanctuary, under the rose arch, down the thyme walk (my favorite), along the serpentine hedge ... and all the rest, it would have been nice to have a comprehensive view of how it all fits together.
After having read the earlier title about this garden, it was nice to return six or seven years later (in publishing time) and see how it's all progressing. As the quote on the back cover says, "The Prince of Wales has created at Highgrove one of the most admired gardens in the country," and from philosophy to planning to execution, it's a garden that through this book, we can learn things from or, if we prefer, simply sit back and enjoy.
This book is a great addition to any garden library, and if you do not already garden organically this may be the book that will convert you. That is assuming you have not read A Silent Spring.
Also makes a handsome gift, dispite all the photos of Prince Charles looking very County.
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I found the life of Qaddafi interesting. He sometimes defies description. He is a womanizer, but believes in Islam. There are many contradictions in his character. Nevertheless, he is a threat to the United States and western nations.
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