A Review of “The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern English Literature,” by Sophie Chiari, ed.

A Review of The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern English Literature, by Sophie Chiari, ed. (Farnham, Surrey & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015). Reviewed by Karin Susan Fester.

Review published in Seventeenth-Century News [2017] Vol. 75, Nos. 3&4, pp. 85 – 91.


The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern English Literature is a collection of sixteen essays devoted to various aspects of how knowledge was circulated and miscirculated through literature and drama—texts functioning as agents of change—in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The cultural processes of “transmission,” “initiation,” and “transgression” are explored with the aim of demonstrating how these processes are interrelated. Moreover, this collection sets a precedent because…”

To read the entire book review, click HERE.

Ashgate Publishing  www.ashgate.com


Review of “Bargain Paradise,” by Darlene Blasing

Darlene Blasing: Bargain Paradise (Muskegon, Michigan: Argon Press, 2014)  www.darleneblasing.com

Bargain Paradise by Darlene Blasing is a story for lovers of gardening and the rural life, and for those of us who are curious and dream about gardening. When reviewing a work, I usually focus on the philosophical elements in a story. This time I’m looking at a story about a woman’s obsession with gardening, and the story has an ethical theme too. I chose to review this work precisely because I love gardening and everything that it involves more or less: encountering numerous plant and animal species, selecting pollinators, starting seeds, planting seedlings, dealing with insects, caring for sick plants and watching everything grow, along with the satisfaction you feel when you finally see the results of your hard work and sweat. Bargain Paradise portrays working in the garden so vividly, and it’s such a funny story.

Bargain Paradise cover6

One day Loretta Evans, the main protagonist, discovered a demolition site in her community where bulldozers were destroying every single plant and shrub—what a waste of beautiful landscaping—and she was determined to rescue everything! Loretta managed to get a deal: she could have all the plants and shrubs for free, and she only had to dig up everything and haul it home in her dilapidated, rusty old pickup truck. The first rescue attempt was only the beginning of something much bigger. Every week there was a new demolition site from which Loretta could salvage plants and shrubs. Oh, she was so happy!

Despite the overwhelming physical labor involved, Loretta surprisingly becomes more energetic, happier and relaxed. She feels like her real self again. However, Loretta’s husband Jerry doesn’t share her enthusiasm and he becomes increasingly disenchanted. Jerry is the kind of guy who likes routine, and after a long day at the office expects to have a warm home-cooked meal. A few new plants on their property he considered to be more than enough. Jerry doesn’t particularly appreciate or understand the sense of achievement that his wife feels for the hard work she’s put into the gardening project. Loretta’s work is certainly beautiful, but Jerry simply cannot comprehend how Loretta can work every single day, barely eating and not regularly doing house chores or cooking nice dinners—working late into the night planting and watering the new plants and shrubs. Similarily, Julie, Loretta’s friend who also admires the landscaping project, even offers to help. Doing a little bit of dirty work is one thing, however, Julie doesn’t have motivation on the scale of Loretta’s. Neither can Julie understand why Loretta is pushing herself to the maximum. Why does anyone need to have forty acres entirely filled with flowering plants and shrubs?

How will Jerry continue coping with his wife’s obsessive gardening? Loretta certainly has a strong work ethic and determination. And Loretta won’t stop until she gets what she wants: a grand garden, the likes of an English estate garden. It’s obvious to everyone around Loretta: she’s obsessed with her gardening to the point where it dominates everything in her life. For Jerry, it’s the fear of the forty acres!

Darlene Blasing is just as determined as her protagonist: All of her scenes are meant to captivate the gardener and wanna be gardener in us, as well as continuously instilling in our imagination all those things that could make a typical day’s work in the garden so pleasurable and gratifying. The humor in this story is wonderfully portrayed. As every scene unfolds you never know what to expect. I couldn’t stop laughing

There is something to be learned from this story. First, try not to work so hard, give things some time. But then again, for those of us who are passionate about what we do, telling us not to work so hard simply won’t be comprehended nor appreciated! Second, it’s always good to save and recycle things and make the best effort to do so. Third, we ought to find a compromise even if it seems impossible to do so. And perhaps we ought to strive to find the middle ground between excess and deficiency, always being aware and conscientious.

Those who would enjoy reading Darlene Blasing’s story the most would surely be the ones who share a love of gardening, getting their hands dirty and relishing the smell of fresh earth. Even if you aren’t into gardening, the passion and drive of Loretta will encourage you to think deeply about it. Maybe you’ll even take up gardening yourself!

By Karin Susan Fester, September 26, 2017

Book cover image courtesy of  Darlene Blasing   www.darleneblasing.com


I write about a lot of different things

Writing about diverse subject matter is fun, exciting and inspirational. Mostly on this blog I present book reviews: scholarly, non-fiction and a few fiction works. But I have much more in my portfolio. To see my other writings, please visit my blog Piemonte is Life which features substantial writings about life in Piedmont, Italy: culture, food, wine, nature and more. Piedmont is famous for its wine production and it goes steadfastly hand in hand with its unique food culture and practices, being influenced from local traditions throughout the region.

And I also have a gardening blog: Spirit of the Garden. This particular blog focuses on a Monferrine garden and orchard—nature’s vitality greatly inspired me—it’s an expression of the relationship I had with the plants in my vegetable garden as well as the wide variety of fruit and nut trees I cultivated.

My writings emerge spontaneously from living a life. I live to write—the writing has a life of its own.

Thank you for stopping by,




Karin Susan Fester (c) 2017

Interested in the Seventeenth Century?

And another review will be published this year: Sophie Chiari, ed. The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern English Literature (Ashgate, 2015).

Philosophy Book Reviews


52672_M. Edwards                     HanahDawsLocke                      03_12_2013_Med Rhet

Here is a list of reviews I’ve written for scholarly books concentrated on the seventeenth century. Click on the book titles to be linked to OAKTrust library at Texas A&M University.

A review of “Locke, Language and Early-Modern Philosophy” by Hannah Dawson
Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2010)

A review of “Rhetoric and Medicine in Early Modern Europe” edited by Stephen Pender and Nancy S. Struever
Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2013)

A review of “The Devil in Disguise. Deception, Delusion, and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment” by Mark Knights
Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2012)

A review of “Time and The Science of The Soul In Early Modern Philosophy” by Michael Edwards Fester, Karin Susan (Texas A&M University, 2015)

More reviews coming in 2016 !

Visit the Seventeenth-Century Newswebsite  HERE  SCN_C image

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