on 3 August 2007
You can see why PG Wodehouse loved this book, it is written in a Jeeves-ish style that is witty, bumbling, just plain funny and extremely readable. If only the first year of married life could be like this nowadays - it is like a different planet not just a different century that Denis Mackail is writing about when we realise the young couple have to move to a new, bigger house after they have had a baby: when in fact they live in a terraced house off the King's Road! Another Persephone gem, one to be put on the shelf next to my favourite Nancy Mitfords and EM Delafields. And an ideal present for newly-weds of course.
Mackail writes about Ian and Felicity Foster, a newly married couple in 1920's London, and more importantly their first year of married life in a charming house in Greenery Street. This wonderful Persephone publication is just delicious, light, frothy, romantic and hopeful. There is nothing taxing whatsoever about this read. It is funny and utterly charming. If you like Nancy Mitford or Evelyn Waugh, this is in the same era and style but without any of the cynicism or darkness of the other two. Apparently there are two other books by him about the same couple and I am now waiting eagerly to see if Persephone will publish those too.
on 23 May 2009
Greenery Street is based on the real street in Chelsea where Denis Mackail spent the first happy years of his marriage until, like the couple in his novel, the arrival of two children made a five-storey terrace house too small! Mackail's house which inspired the book was actually 23 Walpole Street, off the King's Road - where you would have to be a very fortunate young couple indeed to live today. (PG Wodehouse briefly lived there, hence his affection for the book, and the Mackails were succeeded by Jan Struther who went on to create Mrs Miniver. (A book, I must say, that I enjoyed much more than Greenery Street.
In the novel Ian and Felicity Foster are a blissfully happy couple settling into their first year of married life, gently bickering and making up, fretting about money and mismanaging their servants. (In 1925, they feel poor on an income approaching £1000 a year, which many married men only aspired to in the 1950s. But the very minimum they could manage on was a cook and a house-parlourmaid and Felicity has clearly never lifted a finger in her life... her idea of a busy day is returning her library books and running up an account at Andrew Brown's - easily identifiable as Peter Jones dept store!) The only shadow across their marital bliss is the narrowly-averted scandal when Felicity's sister, unhappily and childlessly married to a kind, rich - but stupefyingly dull - husband is dissuaded from eloping with a Bounder.
A sweet book ... but I did get a little bit bored with them by the end.