Laughter on the Stairs

Laughter on the Stairs

5.0 1
by Beverley Nichols
     
 

In this, the second volume of the Merry Hall trilogy, Nichols is less concerned with his garden and more with his house, but the story does include the memorable characters Our Rose, the ditzy floral designer, and the cantankerous gardener Oldfield.

Overview

In this, the second volume of the Merry Hall trilogy, Nichols is less concerned with his garden and more with his house, but the story does include the memorable characters Our Rose, the ditzy floral designer, and the cantankerous gardener Oldfield.

Editorial Reviews

Pacific Horticulture
"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

Southern Living
"You'll find laughter on the stairs and everywhere else Nichols takes you as he renovates his old home and garden."

Southern Living, Spring 1999

New York Times Book Review
"[Nichols] the very model of gardening insouciance, ... wrote at least once about everything and ... is nearly the Bertie Wooster of gardening, and I say nearly only because some would consider it an insult to be called the Bertie Wooster of anything."

—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review, December 1, 1998

From the Publisher
"[Nichols] the very model of gardening insouciance, ... wrote at least once about everything and ... is nearly the Bertie Wooster of gardening, and I say nearly only because some would consider it an insult to be called the Bertie Wooster of anything."
—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review, December 1, 1998
Booknews
Nichols, a prolific writer best known for his gardening books, transforms the large and small happenings of a sleepy British village and country estate into mock high drama, retelling events such as a burglary, a ghost sighting, and home and garden renovations with humor and insight. Includes b&w drawings. First published in 1953 by Jonathan Cape, this edition includes a new foreword and a plant index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780881924602
Publisher:
Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/15/1998
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
260
Sales rank:
844,008
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

The conservatory [of Merry Hall] is really something ... But first, we may pause for a moment in this little glass corridor, to note what we may expect to see in it? After all, it is a very vital part of the house; it links the old with the new, by a chain of flowers. It is one of [the gardener] Oldfield's most sacred preserves; every morning, on the stroke of nine, his white head may be seen bending over the shelves of geraniums, tapping the pots to see if they are dry enough to need watering.

'How can you tell just by tapping?' I once asked him.

His one good eye regarded me with some scorn. 'You can tell by t'sound,' he said. He tapped one of the pots. 'That's dry.' He tapped another. 'That could do with a drop.' And another. 'That's not needing any.'

'They all sound just the same, to me.'

He did not comment on this pitiable statement. He had noticed that the watering can was empty. He gave me a reproachful look. 'I see you've been using my water to fill t'vases again.'

'I'm so sorry, Oldfield. I meant to fill up the can again last night. I'll get you a drop of warm from the kitchen.'

'T'isn't the same. Not as if it had stood here all night. Still, t'is better than cold. If there's one thing that makes geraniums spalch off, t'is cold water.'

'Spalch' is one of several new words which Oldfield has added to my vocabulary. It is not in the Oxford Dictionary, but it is a good word, still current in Lancashire, which means to die back, to wither prematurely.

We must not linger here too long, talking to Oldfield, but first I must justify my claim that the conservatory is 'really something.' Perhaps I can describe it most vividly by saying that this is the place where women, as soon as they step into it, exclaim with a sharp 'Oh!' Sometimes this is varied by 'Oh no!' or 'Oh really!' This sounds as though they had been pounced on from behind, and subjected to nippings, but this is not why they cry out. It is because there is always some sort of display which justifies the exclamation. In winter there is a bank of snow-white chrysanthemums on which I have trained a spotlight, to heighten the illusion of ballet. In spring, there is a glorious tumble of schizanthus, which I prefer to call by its common name — 'Poor Man's Orchid' ...

And throughout the whole year there are geraniums, which to me are a sort of 'test flower,' for long experience has taught me that people who do not like geraniums have something morally unsound about them. Sooner or later you will find them out; you will discover that they drink, or steal books, or speak sharply to cats. Never trust a man or woman who is not passionately devoted to geraniums.

Meet 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.

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Laughter on the Stairs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago