Synopses & Reviews
First in a trilogy, Merry Hall is the account of the restoration of a house and garden in post-war England. Though Mr. Nichols's horticultural undertaking is serious, his writing is high-spirited, riotously funny, and, at times, deliciously malicious.
"His books are peopled with village characters, with Nichols himself cast as the English squire. He is at turns sentimental, arch and snobbish, but delightfully so."
—Dulcy Mahar, Oregonian, October 30, 2003 Oregonian
"Be prepared. Beverley Nichols' garden books are part PG Wodehouse and part James Barrie — full of hilarious Jeeves-like characters and events, with moments of Peter Pan magic."
—Bob Cowden, Pacific Horticulture, Spring 2000 Pacific Horticulture
"Though written half a century ago, Merry Hall
captures that longing for the garden and a patch of land to call one's own. Nichols's wit and silly adventures ... add a bit of welcome hilarity to the all-too-serious literature of gardening."
—Anne Raver, New York Times, February 27, 2000 The New York Times
No more delightful garden-related books have ever been written than Nichols' accounts of the rescue and renovation of Merry Hall, a rundown Georgian mansion and its garden.
Timber Press is proud to return to print a classic in garden literature by the late Beverley Nichols. With a new foreword by Ann Lovejoy and a new index updating all plant names, this edition of Merry Hall should delight a new generation of readers. If Nichols's horticultural undertaking is serious, his writing is hardly solemn. The narrative is high-spirited, riotously funny, and, at times, deliciously malicious. The local characters who alternately delight and frustrate him are as important as the plants: the ancient gardener Oldfield, who refuses to plant "boolbs", the scheming Miss Emily, and Gaskin, Nichols's omniscient and beatific factotum. But what lures readers to return to Merry Hall again and again are the rapturous discursions on plants and gardening.
About the Author
Beverley Nichols (1898-1983) was a prolific writer on subjects ranging from religion to politics and travel, in addition to authoring six novels, five detective mysteries, four children's stories, six autobiographies, and six plays. He is perhaps best remembered today for his gardening books. The first of them, Down the Garden Path, centered on his home and garden at Glatton and has been in print almost continuously since 1932. Merry Hall (1951) and its sequels Laughter on the Stairs (1953) and Sunlight on the Lawn (1956) document Nichols' travails in renovating a Georgian mansion and its gardens soon after the war. His final garden was at Sudbrook Cottage, which serves as the setting for Garden Open Today (1963) and Garden Open Tomorrow (1968). The progress of all three gardens was followed avidly by readers of his books and weekly magazine columns.