The Spanish Gardener (novel)

Last updated

The Spanish Gardener
The Spanish Gardener cover.jpg
First edition (UK)
Author A. J. Cronin
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Publisher Gollancz (UK)
Little, Brown (US)
Publication date
1950
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
Pages256 pp. (UK hardback edition)
ISBN 0-450-01108-9

The Spanish Gardener is a 1950 novel by A. J. Cronin which tells the story of an American consul, Harrington Brande, who is posted to San Jorge on the Costa Brava, Spain with his young son Nicholas. The novel relates how Nicholas's innocent love for his father is destroyed by the latter's jealousy and vindictiveness when Nicholas forms a friendship with the young Spanish gardener, José Santero.

The novel was adapted for both film and television.

Synopsis

A restrained, precise man, Brande has an elevated sense of his own importance, believing his qualities have been overlooked in a series of postings around Europe which have failed to result in promotion. His other abiding resentment is the failure of his marriage to his wife Marion, who left him when his dispassionate and obsessively controlling nature overwhelmed her.

Brande's paranoid need to be loved and respected are focused on his hobby, a manuscript on Malebranche, a French philosopher, and on his 9-year-old son Nicholas. Nicholas is a delicate child who has been reduced to a state of invalidism by his father's overprotective and restrictive regime.

At San Jorge, the Brandes take a villa for which the couple Garcia and his wife Magdalena have been engaged to act as butler/chauffeur and cook/housekeeper. Nicholas takes an instinctive dislike to Garcia, fearing his dead fish eyes and his tendency to appear unannounced, but Brande sees the man's obsequious servility as recognition of his own superior qualities. At Nicholas's suggestion, a gardener, the 19-year-old José, is hired to tend the neglected garden. José's amiable and ingenuous nature, despite his poverty and the responsibility of providing for his family members, soon attract Nicholas's curiosity and the pair start a friendship. Nicholas helps José in the garden, and his health improves.

Garcia, to ingratiate himself with Brande and plant suspicion on José, informs Brande of the friendship between Nicholas and José, and intensely jealous of Nicholas's affection, Brande forbids the boy to speak to the gardener again. He has no justifiable cause to dismiss José, so he sets out to punish him and break his spirit by ordering him to build a rockery from boulders. Nicholas, however, realises that he only promised not to speak to José, and this promise does not preclude writing and exchanging secret notes with each other.

Brande then receives a letter summoning him to Madrid and informing him that his predecessor at San Jorge, who was promoted to First Consul, has suffered a stroke. Elated and assuming that he will be appointed to the vacant post, Brande hurries to Madrid.

José takes advantage of Brande's absence to take Nicholas by train into the mountains on a fishing trip. Their enforced silence is broken, and the day is the idyllic highlight of Nicholas's life so far. However, Nicholas returns to find a drunken Garcia wielding a knife and abusing Magdalena. He spends a terrified night in his room, and,when José learns of it the following day, rather than leave the defenceless boy alone for another night, takes him home with him.

A distraught Brande returns early from Madrid. He had merely been summoned to Madrid to temporarily fill the vacancy until a permanent appointment could be made, and upon telling his superior that he expected to be appointed permanently, he effectively is ridiculed and told he has no hope. He refused the temporary posting and writes to summon his friend and psychiatrist Eugene Halevy.

On returning to his villa, he finds Nicholas missing, and Garcia informs him Nicholas has spent the night with José. He shows Brande a scrap of Nicholas's correspondence to José saying how much he loves to spend time with José. When Nicholas returns, Garcia and Magdalena deny his version of events, and he is confined to his room where Professor Halevy 'examines' him, intent upon reading something sinister into his relationship with José.

Garcia then informs Brande that he is missing sums of money and suggests Brande checks his jewellery, all of which has gone. A pair of Brande's cufflinks are found in the lining of José's jacket, and he is arrested.

José is to be sent for trial in Barcelona, and Nicholas learns from José's grandfather that he will attempt to escape from the train and hide in the old mill where they went fishing. Nicholas sets off to meet him, and his father accompanies José and the police to act as witness in the trial. He has received a letter from the employment agency stating that Garcia is very likely to be a criminal the police are looking, but he decides to do nothing about it until after José's trial. On the train, José makes his escape attempt, but Brande, anticipating his action, catches his sleeve, spoiling his jump so that José falls onto the track and is killed. In a violent storm, Brande then has to find the missing Nicholas.

Seven months later, Brande is posted to Stockholm but his relationship with Nicholas is irretrievably broken. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Nicholas told Brande that he hated him. He asked for his mother's photo and her address and has been writing to her. In Stockholm, Nicholas, now recovered from a serious illness resulting from his misadventure in the storm, informs his father that he wishes to live with her in America.

Review

Information on 'The Spanish Gardener' from the fly leaf of 'Beyond This Place' (Published 1953 Australia and NZ):

Dr Cronin has portrayed a man at the mercy of his own vanity. This man's son is the victim of his doting parent until the Spanish gardener shows the boy the way to a freer, healthier, happier life.

This is a haunting book with overtones of both beauty and tragedy. Among its characters – the frail, confined and sensitive little boy Nicholas; the father who was afraid to face himself; the criminal servant; the Consul's assistant upon whom at the moment of crisis he was reluctantly forced to rely; the fraudulent psychiatrist who would twist words spoken under mental torture; and above all the lovable character of the Spanish gardener himself – these are among Dr Cronin's most memorable characters.

Related Research Articles

<i>One Hundred Years of Solitude</i> 1967 novel by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a 1967 novel by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez that tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founded the fictitious town of Macondo. The novel is often cited as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jorge Guillén</span> Spanish poet

Jorge Guillén Álvarez was a Spanish poet, a member of the Generation of '27, a university teacher, a scholar and a literary critic.

<i>Clase 406</i> Mexican telenovela

Clase 406 is a Mexican telenovela produced by Pedro Damián for Televisa, broadcast by Canal de las Estrellas. It is a remake of the Colombian telenovela Francisco, El Matemático (1999). Clase 406 originally aired from Monday, July 1, 2002, to Friday, October 31, 2003. The story deals with the problems of newer Latino youth, in general like sex, drug dealing, abuse, drinking, rape, deception, and heartbreak.

<i>Amigas y rivales</i> Mexican TV series or program

Amigas y rivales is a Mexican juvenile telenovela produced by Emilio Larrosa for Televisa in 2001. On Monday, February 26, 2001, Canal de las Estrellas started broadcasting Amigas y rivales weekdays at 7:00pm, replacing Primer amor, a mil por hora. The last episode was broadcast on Friday, November 9, 2001 with El juego de la vida replacing it the following Monday.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jorge Isaacs</span> Colombian writer and politician

Jorge Isaacs Ferrer was a Colombian writer, politician and soldier. His only novel, María, became one of the most notable works of the Romantic movement in Spanish-language literature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Juan Bautista de Toledo</span> Spanish architect

Juan Bautista de Toledo was a Spanish architect. He was educated in Italy, in the Italian High Renaissance. As many Italian renaissance architects, he had experience in both architecture and military and civil public works. Born, either in Toledo or in Madrid around 1515. He died on 19 May 1567 in Madrid, and was buried in Madrid in the choir of the primitive “Convento de Santo Tomás, Iglesia de la Santa Cruz”.

<i>Barrera de amor</i> Mexican telenovela

Barrera de amor is a Mexican telenovela produced by Ernesto Alonso for Televisa in 2005.

<i>Vecinos</i> Mexican television series (2005–)

Vecinos is a Mexican television series created by Eugenio Derbez, based on Spanish television series Aquí no hay quien viva. It premiered on Las Estrellas on July 10, 2005. The series portrays the life of everyday people in Mexican barrios, where anything can be found — the jealous housewife, the spinster, the strange family, etc. Each episode features the interactions between these peculiar neighbors, where they deal with problems both real and imagined, such as ghosts, treasures, ripoffs, fights, etc.

<i>Muchachitas como tú</i> Mexican TV series or program

Muchachitas como tú is a teen Mexican telenovela produced by Emilio Larrosa for Televisa in 2007. It is an adaption of the Mexican telenovela Muchachitas, also produced by Emilio Larrosa. It premiered on April 23, 2007 and ended on November 9, 2007.

<i>Captain Sánchezs Crime</i> 1985 Spanish film

Captain Sánchez's Crime is a 1985 Spanish drama film, made for television in 16 mm as an episode of the Televisión Española anthology series La huella del crimen. Directed by Vicente Aranda, it starred Fernando Guillén, Victoria Abril and José Cerro. It was based on a real crime which occurred in 1913.

<i>To an Unknown God</i> 1977 Spanish film

To an Unknown God is a 1977 Spanish film directed by Jaime Chávarri. The film is about an aging man coming to terms with his homosexuality and mortality. It was a pioneer in its frank and mature examination of homosexuality.

<i>The Spanish Gardener</i> (film) 1956 British film

The Spanish Gardener is a 1956 VistaVision and Technicolor film based on the 1950 eponymous novel by A. J. Cronin. The film, which stars Dirk Bogarde and Jon Whiteley, was directed by Philip Leacock.

Jorge Aurelio Noguera Cotes is a Colombian lawyer, former Director of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), the intelligence service agency of Colombia and a polemical convicted murderer who served during the direct orders of the president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. A Liberal party politician, he served as regional campaign manager in the Department of Magdalena for then-candidate Álvaro Uribe Vélez during the 2002 presidential elections. After Uribe's victory in the elections, Noguera was appointed Director of the DAS, serving from 2002 to 2005, after which time he was appointed Consul-General if Colombia in Milan in 2006.

The Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada took place between 1783 and 1816 in the territories of New Granada, covering present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and northern Brazil and western Guyana.

<i>Pueblo chico, infierno grande</i> Mexican TV series or program

Pueblo chico, infierno grande is a Mexican historical telenovela set in the Pre-Mexican Revolution period, produced by José Alberto Castro for Televisa in 1997. From Monday, January 6, 1997 until Friday, August 1, 1997, Canal de las Estrellas broadcast it weekdays at 10:00pm, replacing Te sigo amando and replaced by Salud, dinero y amor. Televisa released an abridged DVD version of the novela in several countries. It also aired on Univisión in the United States.

Destiny (<i>Queen of Swords</i>) 1st episode of the 1st season of Queen of Swords

"Destiny" is the first episode and origin story of the syndicated television series Queen of Swords, airing October 7, 2000.

Bodas de odio is a Mexican telenovela produced by Ernesto Alonso for Televisa in 1983. Its original story was by Caridad Bravo Adams, adapted by María Zarattini and directed by José Rendón.

<i>El abuelo y yo</i> Mexican telenovela

El abuelo y yo, is a Mexican TV series produced by Pedro Damián for Televisa in 1992.

<i>The Stray Cat</i> Mexican telenovela

The Stray Cat is a Mexican telenovela produced by Nathalie Lartilleux for Televisa. It is a remake of the Venezuelan telenovela La Gata, produced in 1968 and Mexican telenovela Rosa Salvaje produced in 1987.

<i>Bajo un mismo rostro</i> (TV series) Mexican TV series or program

Bajo un mismo rostro is a Mexican telenovela produced by Christian Bach and Humberto Zurita for Televisa in 1995.