Monsieur de Monville's Bookstore


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Featured Publication

Le Desert De Retz : A Late Eighteenth-Century French Folly Garden, the Artful Landscape of Monsieur De Monville

Diana Ketcham. Illustrations include 32 photographs by Michael Kenna.
Prices start at $11.88 used paperback and $19.12 used hardcover. Click here to buy it now!

"Diana Ketcham's magnificently researched and beautifully accomplished text, with its accompanying images, is not a book for mere specialists. It is a book of interest to garden enthusiasts, to art historians, to surrealists -- to anyone with a taste for fantasy, architectural metaphor, the poetry of vision, the aesthetics of stone and leaf." -- Arthur C. Danto, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University.

Le Désert de Retz, Paysage Choisi

Julien Cendres, Chloé Radiguet
Prefaced by the late President François Mitterrand, this book, now in its second, revised edition, contains a detailed chronology of the Désert de Retz up to the present, along with numerous beautiful black-and-white and color illustrations and an extensive bibliography. Text in French.

Expression d'un regard nouveau sur le monde, "paradis terrestre" au milieu de la forêt de Marly, le Désert de Retz est l'oeuvre de l'extravagant François Racine de Monville, et le plus remarquable des jardins anglo-chinois. Cet ouvrage, la seule monographie en français consacrée au Désert de Retz, retrace l'histoire de ce lieu "symbolique" qui continue de susciter l'enthousiasme et la passion. Richement illustré, il présente de nombreux documents inédits et des photographies de Denise Bellon, Daniel Boudinet, Robert César, Philippe Dollo, Patricia Farazzi, Izis, Michael Kenna, Jean-Noël Loriers et Steve Wilson... French flag

This book is not available at but can be purchased from Price: 43.70 euros.


Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers.
Price: only $44.58. You save $30.42 (42%) or save money and buy it second-hand for as little as $28.00 Click here to buy it now!

"Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, former administrator of New York City's Central Park begins Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History with stone circles and ziggurats, and traces design's evolution through to today's suburbs and theme parks.

"An encyclopedic account of man-made landscapes around the world illustrated with a stunning 633 photos and drawings, more than half in color, the book reveals a 1720 English turf ampitheater...the grand genius of Versailles designer André Le Notre, as well as today's 'Earthworks, Golf Courses, Philosophical Models, and Poetic Metaphors.' It's an accessible and elegant respite." Publishers Weekly

"Every page contains sharp insights: for example, her suggestion that the broken column that the Baron de Monville built as his house at the Desert de Retz outside Paris in the 1780s portended the revolution that would sweep away the civilization he cherished." Michael Webb.

The Changing Garden : Four Centuries of European and American Art
Betsy G. Fryberger (Author), Paula Deitz (Contributor), Elizabeth S. Eustis (Contributor), Diana Ketcham (Contributor), Claudia Lazzaro (Contributor)
Buy it new from $22.50 hardback or $4.86 paperback. Buy it!

Published as the catalogue to accompany an innovative exhibition organized in 2003 by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, this beautifully illustrated volume examines the garden as an enduring and evolving cultural resource, in two hundred works by more than one hundred artists.

Essays in the book examine design concepts and individual features, highlight historic gardens and public parks, and focus on activities in garden settings

Prints, drawings, photographs, and paintings illuminate the changing aesthetics and uses of gardens from sixteenth-century Italian villas and Louis XIV's Versailles to such democratic urban parks as New York City's Central Park and San Francisco's Crissy Field.

Gardens of Obsession: Eccentric and Extravagant Visions
Gordon Taylor, Guy Cooper
Buy it new from $38.19 new hardcover. Buy it!

Magical, mysterious, witty, and bizarre: these 150 gardens from countries as diverse as Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Italy, Mexico, and Australia are true originals. Some take their inspiration from myths and allegories from the ancient world; others grew out of a passion for a single type of plant. Still more reflect high culture, while a number take a joyfully folksy or kitsch approach.

A creator's dreams and visions have taken on a new life as a formal Renaissance garden in France, giant wooden hands rising from a small hillside garden in California, and a garden of 1500 roses in Somerset planted in date order of their introduction into western Europe. This collection of gardens--each with its own magic--is a treat for the eye and living proof that fantasies can come true. New.gif

Architectural Follies in America
Gwyn Headley
But it new from $29.2. You save $10.80 (27%). Buy it!

This book offers readers an unparalleled opportunity to become acquainted with some of the most outstanding examples of this class of architectural marvel. With Gwyn Headley as our guide, we travel the length and breadth of the United States�from the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Niles, Illinois, to a house made of glass bottles in Death Valley; from the floating Taj Mahal in Sausalito, to the grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

In a narrative rich with historical erudition, choice tidbits of gossip, and no small measure of sparkling wit, Headley describes more than 130 structures in loving detail. He tells the full story behind each folly, what is known about its creator, the circumstances surrounding its construction, and its prospects for the future.

Garden Pavilions and the 18th Century French Court

Eleanor P. Delorme.
Buy it used from $64.99.
This is probably the best book in English currently available on the subject of late 18th century French landscape and garden architecture. One chapter is devoted to the Dìsert de Retz. The publisher says: "Eleanor Delorme, in writing of the activities of the court and their use of pavilions, has incorporated much entertaining anecdotal material which highlights her subject matter and enlivens her narrative."

The Secret Gardens of Paris

Alexandra D'Arnoux, Bruno De Laubadere
Price: Buy it new in paperback for $22.76. You save $7.19 (24%) or used hardcover from $12.83.
Hidden behind the elegant facades and high walls of Paris are its private gardens. Whether grandiose or minuscule, highly manicured or exuberantly untended, these gardens are a secret treasure seldom seen by the visitor to Paris. This book reveals some fifty gardens, all created with passion by their owners, often in collaboration with well-known landscape designers. Each proprietor discusses the conditions in which the garden was created, the constraints and the problems that were encountered.

The French Country Garden : Where the Past Flourishes in the Present

Louisa Jones
Price: Buy it used for as little as $9.13 or buy a collectible first edition for only $21.00!
In France today, the heritage of classic ornamental gardens and landscaped parks, of botanical inquiry and family kitchen gardens, provides iinspiration for fresh delights and contemporary creativity. In The French Country Garden, Louisa Jones organizes select gardens into 6 themes that appeal to every taste. Stroll through classical formal gardens or peruse gardens of the medieval past that focused on sensual stimulation. From exotic to the nostalgic, this lushly illustrated book gives a diverse look at many garden styles.

The French Garden

Jean-Pierre Babelon, Mic Chamblas-Ploton
Price: Buy it used harddover for $37.50
For the first time, all the major French gardens have been gathered here in one book, all specially photographed over several years. Among the thirty-six seen here are Versailles, the Tuileries, Saint Cloud Marly, and Villandry in France, as well as Queluz in Portugal, Drottinghulm in Sweden, Peterhof near St. Petersburg, and Schonbrunn, the Habsburg Versailles. This is a major reference book that will delight travelers, gardeners, and historians.

Mirrors of Infinity : The French Formal Garden and 17Th-Century Metaphysics

Allen S. Weiss
Price: Buy it used for as little as $11.66!
From a review: "An elegant, gracefully erudite and concise intellectual history. It is a focused and yet wide-ranging look at the function and meaning of French 17th century formal gardens, specifically Vaux-le-Vicomte, Versailles, and Chantilly."

The Picturesque Garden in Europe

John Dixon Hunt
Buy it new hardcover for $32.00 or new paperback for only $22.50.
The book traces the rise of the picturesque garden in England...But the impact on European countries of the English example was complicated by the parallel rise of a picturesque garden in France, which had its own cultural direction even while it looked to England and China for inspiration. The French produced a crop of theoretical essays on the new "modern" garden as well as a set of astonishing designs at Méréville, the Désert de Retz, Monceau, Moulin-Joli and Ermenonville that were wholly and distinctly French, despite some superficial similarities with English creations.

Reading the French Garden: Story and History

Denise Le Dantec, Jean-Pierre Le Dantec, Jessica Levine (Translator)
Price: Buy it new in paperback for $24.95 or in usesd hardcover for only $5.00.
Alternating discursive accounts, or allées, with fictional vignettes that recreate time and place, the Le Dantecs integrate the history of French gardens with the modern hsitory of ideas. "Reading the French Garden focuses on ideas that are essential to garden history: how gardens were perceived rather than simply laid out, how gardens of the past may be viewed differently by contemporaries and by later historians; the cultural determination of garden style--its social and intellectual uses."--John Dixon Hunt.

Note: Prices in the above section have been updated and are current as of April 12, 2011.


Little-Known Museums in and Around Paris

Rachel Kaplan
Price: $15.56. You save $4.39 (22%).
Review by Jhana Bach: "Those who seek something off the beaten path in Paris need look no further: Rachel Kaplan has uncovered some 30 museums, ranging from the grand--Alexandre Dumas's Monte-Cristo Estate--to the quaint, such as the Fan Museum, which houses nearly 800 French fans." There are also chapters on Ravel's home and the smallest museum in the world: Eric Satie's closet. Since you can't visit the Desert de Retz, go to these museums instead.

The Impressionists' Paris: Walking Tours of the Painters' Studios, Homes, and the Sites They Painted

Ellen Williams
Price: $15.96. You save $3.99 (20%).
This charming little hardcover, perfect for the pocket or backpack, allows travelers to venture beyond the museum walls and trace the footsteps of these great artists, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Edouard Manet, just to name a few. Three city walking tours cover not only the sites depicted in many of their paintings, but also "the studios in which they worked, the buildings where they lived, and--this being Paris--the cafes in which they gathered." Expertly organized and packed with fascinating facts, including topographical and historical notes, detailed city maps and legends, recommendations for conveniently located restaurants, anecdotes about the artists and their work, and reproductions of the paintings.

Walking in France

Sandra Bardwell, Miles Roddis, Gareth McCormack, Jean-Bertrand Carillet
Price: $15.99. You save $4.00 (20%).
The only way to really discover France is on Foot. Lonely Planets authoritative new guide Walking in France makes Frances natural treasures accessible to walkers of all abilities. Chapters cover the most renowned and scenic walks in 13 regions, including the GR20 trail across Corsica, a range of picturesque day walks within easy distance of Paris, information on architecture, restaurants and vineyards along the trails, easy-to-follow walk descriptions with accurate contour maps, practical advice on local customs, language, equipment and travel, and illustrated section on flora and fauna. Having walked thousands of kilometers in France, the webmaster recommends this book unhesitatingly.


Jean-Marie Perouse De Montclos
Price: $76.00. You save $19.00 (20%).
This is the definitive book on Versailles and the French court. It traces the transformation of Louis XIII's modest hunting lodge into the spectacular showplace of the French monarchy, photographs of the architecture, interiors, and gardens include the most recent research on the architecturally innovative and influential palace.

From a review: "French Architectural historian Perouse de Montclos brillantly traces the history of Versailles from hunting lodge to this incrediable architectural masterpiece. The photographs are fabulous, the text first rate. My favorite section was the one devoted to the extensive grounds and fountains. If you are a collector of coffee table books on architecture, add this one to your collection."

Marie Antionette: The Journey

Antonia Fraser
Price: $24.50. You save $10.50 (30%).
The latest biography by the famous author of works on Mary, Queen of Scots, Cromwell and the wives of Henry VIII. Read "Guillotined by History", a review of the British edition in the July 14, 2001, issue of the Guardian. Read a review of the American edition in the September 4, 2001, issue of the New York Times.

The Private Realm of Marie Antoinette

Marie-France Boyer
Price: $18.00. You save $4.50 (20%).
This book turns aside from the official portraits and the great historical events to rediscover the private places and objects that reflect Marie Antoinette's personality and reveal her more directly to our modern gaze. Marie-France Boyer's practised eye perceives the essence of the queen's taste and its appeal to modern sensibilities.

This is an opportunity to decide whether the queen was the arbiter, the creator even, of a style, or merely the most exalted expression of the eighteenth-century French art of living.

The Exceptional Woman : Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art

Mary D. Sheriff
Price: Paperback $27.50.
Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) was an enormously successful painter, a favorite portraitist of Marie-Antoinette, and one of the few women accepted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In accounts of her role as an artist, she was simultaneously flattered as a charming woman and vilified as monstrously unfeminine.

Sheriff's interpretations of Vigée-Lebrun's paintings challenge us to rethink the work and the world of this controversial woman artist.

The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson

William Howard Adams
Price: Hardbound $40.00.
In 1784 Thomas Jefferson moved to the sophisticated and exhilarating city of Paris, where he spent the next five years as minister from the new United States of America. This engaging book recreates in word and illustration the atmosphere and personalities of prerevolutionary Paris, and it reveals the profound impact they had on one of America's first transatlantic citizens. This book is richly illustrated with art of the period and with specially commissioned photographs of Parisian sites by Adelaide de Menil. Sixty-eight illustrations.

Thomas Jefferson's Journey to the South of France
Roy Moore, Alma Chesnut Moore
Price: $23.96. You Save: $5.99 (20%).
Review by Margaret Flanagan: In the spring of 1787, Thomas inveterate Francophile, took a memorable three-month tour through the South of France. This journey made an indelible impression on the ever-inquisitive Jefferson and provided him with enough agricultural, economic, architectural, and cultural data to subsequently incorporate into a 44-page encyclopedia of information pertaining to his experiences and observations during this trip.

Utilizing excerpts from Jefferson's copious notes and correspondence, the Moores have retraced and recreated this fabled excursion. Gorgeously illustrated with more than 100 full-color photographs and a host of period maps, engravings, paintings, and portraits, this feast for the eyes also includes a penetrating introduction by Jeffersonian scholar Lucia C. Stanton. A sumptuous historical travelogue.

The Days of the French Revolution
Cristopher Hibbert
Price: $12.80. You Save: $3.20 (20%).
The Days of the French Revolution maintains its supremacy among the plethora of French Revolution histories. Hibbert presents complexly related events in a logical, readable format and supplies plenty of historical background and detail without sacrificing clarity or narrative flow. He writes for the general reader unfamiliar with Revolution history, introducing them to individuals as diverse as Marie Antoinette, the young lawyer Danton, the journalist Marat, and the Girondin, sans-culotte and extremist Enragì political factions, weaving their fates together, and adeptly illustrating how they influenced the Revolution and how the Revolution, in turn, changed their lives. Maps, illustrations, chronology of principle events, and a glossary.

Sister Revolutions : French Lightning, American Light
Susan Dunn
Price: Hardbound $20.50. You save $5.20 (20%). Paperback $11.20. You save $2.80 (20%). Gregory McNamee writes: American historians have long appreciated France's contribution to the American Revolution, led by champions such as the Marquis de Lafayette and given full force by the combined Franco-American defeat of the British army at Yorktown. French historians have returned the favor by analyzing the contribution of American revolutionary thought to the French Revolution, which followed the American struggle for independence by only a decade.

Susan Dunn adds a well-written, lively narrative history to the record, with a cast of characters that ranges from the austere warrior George Washington to the firebrand Robespierre. More importantly, she limns just how different the American and French revolutionary projects were. In her view, the American Revolution emphasized personal freedom, thanks in large measure to the arguments of philosophers mistrustful of government in any form (Thomas Jefferson and James Madison among them). For the French, she suggests, personal freedom was of less importance than consensus, public order, and economic democracy.

Comparing the American Bill of Rights with the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, Dunn shows how these "sister revolutions" diverged. The result is an engaging work of political history, one that illuminates the events of later years on both sides of the Atlantic.

Life in the French Country House
Mark Girouard
Price: Hardbound $48.00. You save $12.00 (20%). With 200 photographs and illustrations, nearly all in full color. Mark Girouard, author of Life in the English Country Houses, extends his realm to France in this perceptive and witty portrait of the upper classes at home in their chÞteaux, manoirs, and gentilhommiæres.

In these lavishly illustrated pages we experience all the variety and beauty of the chÞteaux. We learn how they reflected, in their decoration and organization, the manners and mores of their occupants--how the different rooms were lived in, how changes in taste accommodated the waxing and waning fortunes of the aristocracy (and then the bourgeoisie), how design and architecture evolved to serve changing lifestyles and values.

For everyone who has visited or dreamed of the French countryside, this endlessly appealing book will bring to life that storied place and its people.

Undiscovered France
by Brigitte Tilleray, Richard Turpin (Photographer)
Price: $22.36. You save $5.59 (20%).
This splendid book is one of the prizes in the webmaster's library. The photogrphs are stunning and the texts informative. Reciting the names of these villages is like a magic incantation: Montrésor, Angles surl'Anglin, Belcastel, Puycelci, La Couvertoirade, Baume-les-Messsieurs, Niedermorschwir... But, since most of these villages are well off the beaten track, visiting them requires some planning.

Most Beautiful Villages of France
Dominique Reperant (Photographer)
Price: Hardbound $36.00. You save $19.00 (20%).
Here are 50 of the most beautiful villages in a country famous for its rural architecture and small towns. They have been selected for their situation in a picturesque landscape, for their authentic state of preservation and for their sheer beauty and ambience. 400 photos.


Jefferson in Paris
Price: Only $13.49. You save $1.50 (10%).

While American history buffs and Gwyneth Paltrow fans [and lovers of the Désert de Retz!] will want to own this movie just because, it actually compels the viewer to examine the life of our third president a little more closely.

The film focuses on the mid-1780s, when widower and pre-presidency Jefferson (Nick Nolte) replaces Benjamin Franklin as the U.S. representative to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. A lively period, to say the least. And lively, too, is Jefferson, keeping time with a married woman (Greta Scacchi)...

This Merchant-Ivory production, written by frequent collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, languidly attempts to depict a complete portrait of the obviously complex and conflicted Jefferson, who kept slaves but penned the Declaration of Independence.

Several scenes from the film were shot on location at the Désert de Retz.


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This page revised April 16, 2011.