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Merry Hall

By Beverley Nichols

Foreword by Ann Lovejoy

Though written half a century ago, Merry Hall captures that longing for the garden and a patch of land to call one's own.

Anne Raver, New York Times

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.

Awards for this book: New York Times Editor's Choice - Best Books for Gardening

Media reviews

"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

""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

"Hilarious for gardeners who love Masterpiece Theatre."

Boston Globe

"Nichols' particular gift is to entertain, enlighten, and enrich his readers. At the heart of his writing is the passion of a sensitive, intelligent man who has found a creative and emotional outlet in his love of plants and the act of making a garden."

—Stephanie Feeney, American Gardener

"Merry Hall is probably Nichols at his best."

—Linda Coyner, Senior Women Web

"Though Nichol's horticultural undertaking is serious, his writing is high-spirited, riotously funny, and, at times, deliciously malicious. Once read, this classic of garden literature is never forgotten."

Multnomah County Library

"Exquisitely reprinted by Timber Press ... Reading these stories is like taking a trip back to a gentler, more well-mannered time."

—Steve Whysall, Vancouver Sun

"Like the Harry Potter series, Merry Hall will have you clamoring for more if you're the least bit interested in how the English have fun and garden too."

—Lillie Dorchak, Hunterdon County Democrat

"Nichols gives us a glimpse of a world that is sustained by the recognition of a civilized life related to and appreciative of the wonder and beauty of the natural world."

—Diane Kostial McGuire, Journal of the New England Garden History Society

"The Nichols books are gardening classics; after reading one volume, you will want to read the others, so it would be best to buy all three at the outset."

—Diane Kostial McGuire, Journal of the New England Garden History Society

"The charm of Merry Hall, Laughter on the Stairs (mostly about the house) and Sunlight on the Lawn is undeniable, a mixture of the lyrical, the teasing, the understatedly witty and the self-mockingly camp."

—Ursula Buchan, Daily Telegraph (London)

"A delight."

Iowa Source

"A marvelously hilarious insight into people, plants and places ... If you have ever renovated an old house or garden, you’ll love these books."

Traditional Gardening

"Nichols brings unrestrained passion for plants and flowers to his story, set in the gossipy framework of quriky cats and eccentric neighbors, of reclaiming the derelict garden of a run-down Georgian mansion."

—Helen Chesnut, Vancouver Province

"Nichols set the style for many of the humorous garden writers who have followed him, but few can measure up to the combination of wicket wit, and utter delight in the beauties of plants and gardens ... Highly recommended."

—Ann Milovsoroff, Pappus

"This book is a delicious read, with flavors rich and complex ... (a) Treasure of a book."

Woodland Garden

"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

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

Southern Living

"Merry Hall, first published in 1951 and reissued this year by the redoubtable Timber Press, is the very model of gardening insouciance."

—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review

"You’ll love [Nichols'] books."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"Hilarious and endearing, this book brims with sly British wit and is a great gift to anyone who likes gardening, cats, or both."

—Tina Mast, Raleigh News and Observer

"A fun semifictional, semiautobiographical account of the renovation and making of a garden at the English country estate purchased by Nichols. Hilarious and endearing, this book brims with sly British wit and is a great gift to anyone who likes gardening, cats, or both."

—Tina Mast, Raleigh News and Observer

"My all-time fave among the rich roster of garden writers is Beverley Nichols ... Nichols' books are full of wit and wisdom about gardening."

—Sonia Day, Canadian Gardening

"With his typically British, Masterpiece Theater style, over-the-top humor, Nichols is by far my personal choice for all-time best garden writer."

—Michael Weishan, GardenworksOnline.com

"When I grab a vintage favorite at this time of year, it's invariably Beverly Nichols' Merry Hall trilogy ... These semi-fictional accounts of a large garden restoration are among the wittiest books I've ever read, gardening or otherwise. Nichols isn't just funny — he's wickedly insightful, poking jibes at all the various personality "types" one runs into in the horticulture world."

—Pete Prown, Green Scene

"This [Merry Hall] trilogy is consistently delightful, gentle, witty, and charming. Reading these books is like having your back scratched by your best friend ... it's all so pleasant, you wish it will never end.""

—Corinne Erly, Iowa Source

"Merry Hall provides excellent and detailed descriptions of plants and gardening as it also provides an intriguing plot ... The love of plants and gardening is evident throughout."

Reviewer's Bookwatch

"Unlike many garden writers who often take themselves too seriously, Beverly Nichols had no problem finding humor in his gardens ... his breezy anecdotes are wickedly funny and full of sharp insights into the philosophy and motivations of gardeners."

—Adam Levine, Green Scene

"You’ll be rewarded with laughter and a peek into another world."

—Linnea Due, Express Books

"Since gardening and humor are timeless, his books are as delightful today as in the early days after World War II when this was written."

—Margaret C. Crooks, Asbury Park Press

"Witty and slightly malicious yet full of wise and wonderful remarks about garden plants."

Journal of the Scottish Rock Garden Club

About the author

Beverley Nichols

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.

Read more about Beverley Nichols

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