Alan Titchmarsh – Knave of Spades

In this warm, funny memoir, Alan Titchmarsh takes us from gardener’s apprentice to favourite TV presenter.

When Alan left school at 15, little was expected of him. An ‘O’ level in art is not the most obvious passport to success, but in the ancient greenhouses of the local nursery, Mrs T’s little lad found his spiritual home, learning his trade and the strange ways of human nature.

But the comfort and familiarity of his home in the Yorkshire Dales would soon be left behind as he journeyed south to college and then to Kew Gardens, where he encountered rare plants collected by Captain Cook and a varied assortment of eccentrics in the world’s most famous garden.

Spells as a teacher and editor followed, until fate took a hand when he landed a job on the BBC’s Nationwide as their gardening presenter. His childhood dream of inheriting the mantle of gardening god Percy Thrower was beginning to come true.

From the first faltering steps in radio and television, to a career in broadcasting and writing, Knave of Spades is a wonderfully warm and self-deprecatingly honest memoir. Alan Titchmarsh shows us just why he has become not only our favourite gardener, but a popular writer and broadcaster too.

Author: Alan Titchmarsh
Narrator: Alan Titchmarsh
Duration: 2 hours 20 minutes
Released: 9 Jan 2012
Publisher: Hodder Headline Limited
Language: English

User Review:

softness soft-spoken

Have you ever read a book that makes you want to just sit down with the author and really talk? This account makes me want to spend a long evening with Patrick Jephson and philosophize about what might have been, had his boss made different choices.

Do not expect a gushy recounting of the lurid details of Diana’s private life. Rather, this is a firsthand look of what she was like as a working member of the royal family in the turbulent years surrounding her separation and divorce. As her equerry and later private secretary, Jephson gives a tantalizing look at what it is like to run the day to day details of the life of the most famous woman in the world.

His occasional tendency to wander into mind numbing detail and drawn out reflection is the book’s only fault. However he receives all forgiveness in my eyes for his ability to be perfectly candid about the Princess. Here is complete honesty about her strengths and weaknesses in equal measure from first hand observation, not supposition or armchair psychology.

After listening, one feels like they understand Diana…and those close to her…in a new way. Jephson offers no excuse for her often bewildering behavior, but he also accurately portrays the unique and extreme challenges that she faced so that her actions are placed in context. This is probably the most balanced account out there of the complex Princess.

I enjoyed reading the book, and listening to it read by the author was even better. A new chapter at the end is a pleasant surprise and welcome addition as the original edition ended far too abruptly. If you want to draw your own conclusions about what the princess was really like, without having an author cast her in a premade role of angel or devil, this is the book for you!