This simple and uncomplicated scandal of a love story tells the story of a widow, Sabine De Barra, played by Kate Winslet, who has lost more than her husband. She makes her way through life, alone, digging in the dirt – creating landscapes and gardens. She is an enigma for her time. Working quietly during an era when women were not yet living alone and doing this kind of man’s work.
The story winds around the building of Versailles and the design of its gardens for King Louis XIV, played by Alan Rickman. Sabine wins a competition, or she is chosen, to become an assistant to the Chief Gardener, played by Thomas Allam, for her design and the engineering of The Ballroom Grove. Needless to say, a love affair ensues, one that brings together a beautiful lonely widow and a beautiful man who is locked in a loveless marriage with someone else.
This charming period piece is historical fiction but has a true sense of place and time in the mud and the rain of courtly France.
The film was directed by the wonderful Alan Rickman.