“The hero of this tale is a nameless Chinese rose growing in Italy. The plot–part mystery, part quest–seeks to uncover its identity. The supporting characters–among them Empress Josephine–are an array of passionate, endearing breeders and collectors. The result is a delightful hybrid of history and horticulture that traces a single flower’s journey halfway across the world. Di Robilant reveals that a rose is not only a rose, but an enigma whose beauty both roots us to the past and springs eternal.”–Jhumpa Lahiri
“Reading Chasing the Rose is like taking a walk through a beautiful park. Together with the pleasure of the walk itself, you realize slowly that you are taking in the beauty and the fragrance of the plantings and their clever arrangement. You are being led gently by a knowledgeable and discreet guide who wears his learning lightly and manages to make this search for a flower into much more: the pursuit of beauty in life, a slice of history, the exploration of a subculture and of self-discovery.”
“Illustrated throughout with charming watercolors, Di Robilant’s is a unique exploration of how human history often leaves its imprint in the most unexpected of places.
A quiet country pleasure.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Fear not—let your eyes glaze over through the Latin-studded rose begats—and glean the tantalizing and titillating bits of history behind them that you won’t find in any school books.”–Richard Frisbee, New York Journal of Books
“Di Robilant takes readers on a gentle meander in this memoir inspired by a rose he discovered while researching the biography of his great-great-great-great-grandmother, Lucia Mocenigo, a friend of Josephine Bonaparte, which became A Venetian Affair (2003)… History and anecdote abound on this entertaining journey with di Robilant on his quest to get the rose officially named by the American Rose Society.”–Publishers Weekly
“Di Robilant’s quest leads him to Josephine Bonaparte’s rose gardens, the China trade, rose smuggling during the Napoleonic wars, the disappearance of “old roses” in the 19th century and their rediscovery in the 20th. He considers orphan roses, natural hybrids and the politics of registering and naming roses today. . . Written and illustrated in a style reminiscent of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, Chasing the Rose is a charming account of a modern obsession and its historical roots.”–Pamela Toler, Shelf Awareness