Virgin Earth

Tradescant Novels, Book 2
Narrated by: David Thorpe
Series: Tradescant Series, Book 2
Length: 25 hrs and 40 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (96 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this enthralling, freestanding sequel to Earthly Joys, Gregory combines a wealth of gardening knowledge with a haunting love story that spans two continents and two cultures, making Virgin Earth a tour de force of revolutionary politics and passionate characters.

As England descends into civil war, John Tradescant the Younger, gardener to King Charles I, finds his loyalties in question, his status an ever-growing danger to his family. Fearing royal defeat and determined to avoid serving the rebels, John escapes to the royalist colony of Virginia, a land bursting with fertility that stirs his passion for botany. Only the native American peoples understand the forest, and John is drawn to their way of life just as they come into fatal conflict with the colonial settlers. Torn between his loyalty to his country and family and his love for a Powhatan girl who embodies the freedom he seeks, John has to find himself before he is prepared to choose his direction in the virgin land.

©2018 Philippa Gregory (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A Big Rotten Apple of a Book

After this book, I'll regard future Gregory books with skepticism. It's way too long, meanders over the river and through the woods in the story line, and the main characters are unlikable.

The central character, John Tradescant, is repellant. Totally self centered and lacking in introspection. He leaves England (and his children) for the New World to collect new plants. There, he falls in love with a 14 year old Powwatan girl, and promises to return to marry her.

Upon his return to England, he discovers that his father died, and had appointed Hester guardian of his children and the rarities. It was his father's intention that John marry Hester. He does, but in such a churlish manner I wanted to slap him. He never attempts to form a relationship with her.

He departs England again in a snit over the fate of the King whose gardener he is, during the Civil War. I suspect it was his lust for the teen aged Suquhana that was the real reason. Again, he abandons his children, and now his wife. In Virginia, he almost dies during his first winter, and I found myself wishing he would, so the book could end. Instead, Suquhana rescues him. She's married. John becomes a member of the tribe and is allowed to marry her. However, he is unable to take part in the war against the white settlers and ends up going back to England.

There, the author tries to save the character by giving him some small introspection and a bit of a civil relationship with Hester. It's too little, too late.

Then the focus shifts to Johnny, his son. Filled with teen aged angst, he is unable to accept that he isn't the gardener to a king. His adolescent protestations are annoying. I won't reveal his fate so as not to post a spoiler.

By this time, I was debating putting the book down, but forced myself to finish. Gregory finishes the book like the child Johnny. She takes her creation and smashes it as a child would stomp on a sand castle. Hopefully, this will be the last in the Tradescant series.

Finally, the narrator is awful. The voices he does are harsh and stereotyped. He doesn't use a separate for John or Hester. He has no sense of pacing or emphasis.

This book runs over 25 hours: that's a long time to listen to a poor narrator. A lot of it could have been edited out. I so disliked it, I'm thinking of returning it.

I do not recommend this book. In the future, I'll regard Philippa Gregory books with great caution.

9 people found this helpful

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Terrible ending

The storyline was good, but the abrupt ending ruined the whole series for me; ridiculous, implausible and completely disappointing

4 people found this helpful

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Disappointed!

I have read all of Philippa Gregory’s novels over the years, and I waited impatiently for the release of this one. However, I was deeply disappointed. I enjoyed the subject matter since I am an avid gardener, and did come away with a greater appreciation for the value of rare plants. But...more than once, I found my mind wondering, especially during John’s time with the native Americans. I always take special notice of the extensive historical research that is evident in Gregory’s work. The inaccuracies involving the behavior of this particular Indian tribe (or any true American Indian tribe of that period), was apparent throughout those segments of the book! It was especially unnerving when the Indian braves are chanting “ E AGLE, E AGLE!”They may as well have been shouting “Awesome, Dude!” It came off as very modern slang, which has no place in this time period! Then, after 20+ hours of listening, (SPOILER ALERT), the ending was so weak and incredibly ridiculous, I was really sorry I wasted my time! Hopefully, Gregory will get back to the brilliant writing for which she is known! There must me more tantalizing stories about Henry VIII, his court, the Boleyn family, etc., that we have come to love through Philippa Gregory’s writing. I’ll be waiting!

3 people found this helpful

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Worst ending

The ending of this book is so unbelievably disappointing. I would never have read this trilogy if I wouldn’t known what a let down it would be at the end

2 people found this helpful

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Not my favorite from this author

I couldn't love anyone in this book. At times I hated the main character for his selfishness and total lack of concern for his family. Then he came back, welcomed like he had never left them for another woman who was actually a child. Kind of twisted and disgusting. I almost quit listening at the point when he went off to find his child-love. There were parts in the book when it sounded too much like a history lesson with dry facts and less like a story. Hester was probably my favorite character, but she was also limited in dimension. Just kind of thrown together and doesn't flow like most of the books I have read written by this author. I did like many other parts of the book such as learning more about the movement of the English to America (when it was part of the story and not just facts about what happened.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One of the best books I have listened to!!!

Highly recommended!! Philippa Gregory really does her research! While you learn about 17th century England (especially Charles I, parliament, and Cromwell) and the beginning of the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, you see John Tradescant torn between two (or three?) cultures! Though the book was long, I wouldn’t take anything out of it! Educational and totally entertaining!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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If you were a gardener you may enjoy this read

I rather liked the plot line of this novel. I enjoyed the narrator very much. what I did not enjoy was the anger and the shouting. It was excessive but true to typical British communication techniques. I found Little Johnny to be a simpering fool of a character. I enjoyed the read but, as someone has said before, not Philipa’s best.

2 people found this helpful

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wonderful

one of my favorite audio books ever,
it will take you to another world
it deserves 6 stars

2 people found this helpful

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Great story

This is a book that you don't want to put down. So many twist and turns at times very deep.

1 person found this helpful

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Great historical detail!

Loved the story interwoven with history. I’m a gardener, so found it especially interesting. Some disappointing twists and I didn’t like the ending. Don’t know if it’s fact the author had to follow or her choice.