Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols

There are so many things I adore about this book written in the 1940s as the world attempts to heal from WWII. The beginning paragraphs of the chapters are eloquent and botanically beautiful, the “Exotic Plants” chapter, the cat chapter, the winter blossoms, the parts “not for the tough,” and my favorite paragraph: “For in my hands I held a forest” (173); because he actually held a forest of cypress sprouts in his hands.

There are so many lovely literary moments and I admire Nichols’s love for the garden; I too am tortured to leave my budding flowers and trees and dread missing the blooms that I look forward to all year; however Nichols’s self that he exposes through his writing bothered me.

The narrator is cynical, hates women, jokes about the Holocaust, uses racist slurs, is extremely privileged and ungrateful, and is completely oblivious to the sufferings and perspectives and lives of others. He hates babies. I do not like the narrator but I adore the garden.