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Phocas the Gardener

Ever run into a book that sounds intriguing, but you can't find a description about it anywhere? Ask your fellow members--maybe they've heard of it!
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Margareth8537
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Phocas the Gardener

Post by Margareth8537 » Sun October 20th, 2013, 9:25 pm

A book by Paul Bourquin, published by Faber in 1969
This is down on a list of books I read soon after it was published, but I can't remember it at all.
A book I have never been able to track down was written for young people and was about gardening in the style of the Moors, using underground channels (ikats?) to irrigate dry areas.
Sound as if this might be it, but has anyone come across it? either of them?

annis
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Post by annis » Mon October 21st, 2013, 7:24 am

I don't know this book, but Phocas the Gardener is the patron saint of gardeners and came from Sinope (modern-day Sinop), in Turkey. He was a Christian martyr, killed during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian.

If that rings a bell, Bourquin's book might be the one you're looking for. I do wish second-hand book sellers whould provide synopses with the books they list - it would make life so much easier for buyers!

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon October 21st, 2013, 4:09 pm

I don't know the book either, but I do know that underground irrigation canals are calledqanats.(ikat is a dyeing method.) They were used from Persia through India.
Moors, or Berbers, are a good way from there in West Africa, so it may be that you have them confused with Muslims in general. The Moors all converted to Islam in the early 700's AD. That was less than a century after Muhammad's death, so if your novel is set in Roman times, it won't work. Byzantium was still powerful, though.

annis
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Post by annis » Mon October 21st, 2013, 6:39 pm

Just spotted a very brief mention that Bourquin's book is about an 11th century Nestorian, which means it can't be about the saint of the same name. 11th century would make the Muslim influence more likely, too, plus the Nestorians flourished in Persia.

It might be worth interloaning the book through your library to see if it is the one you have in mind.
Last edited by annis on Mon October 21st, 2013, 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Margareth8537
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Phocas the Gardener

Post by Margareth8537 » Sat November 2nd, 2013, 4:17 pm

Thanks I will try interlibraryloan, although it is seeming less likely.
The book I really want was written for young readers, and I would have read it at the same time as I was reading Ronald Welch.
Seem to think it was probably set in Moorish Spain, using Moorish technology to bring water to a desert region

annis
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Post by annis » Tue November 5th, 2013, 2:44 am

Bourquin also wrote a story called The Land of Delight, but all I can find out about that one is that it's set in the 10th century. Would it hurt to add a bit more info to secondhand book listings? Grrr...

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