Laughter on the Stairs, Hardback Book

Laughter on the Stairs Hardback

Part of the Merry Hall Trilogy series

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 260 pages, 44 b/w illus.
  • Publisher: Timber Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780881924602



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I've already waxed rhapsodic about the first book in Beverley Nichols' Merry Hall trilogy (aptly titled Merry Hall) but I plan to be equally enthusiastic about this second book of the trilogy. This book focuses a bit more on the actual home that Nichols bought and its piecemeal restoration while the first detailed much of his fascination with bringing his gardens back to life. Like his previous book though, this is not nearly as boring as it sounds when I put it out there like this. It is a thoroughly delightful and entertaining book complete with more charming anecdotes about his eccentric neighbors, the previous owner whose taste was clearly egregious, and everyone else in Nichols' orbit. I truly wish I could have met Mr. Nichols (although he would likely have gently skewered me just as he does his other neighbors) and been a visitor to Merry Hall. I wouldn't even have asked for a cutting of his gorgeous flowers like his other much maligned, but fondly recalled nonetheless, female visitors. I truly don't know how to entice people to read these wonderfully witty and sly books since calling them garden books or estate books makes them seem far too tame and dull to do them any justice whatsoever. Suffice it to say, if you have any fondness for well-written, charm-laden non-fiction without event-driven narrative, you should read these. Even better if you happen to be a bit of an Anglophile. You can thank me later.

Review by

Review of the Trilogy by Beverley Nichols: 1) Merry Hall, 2) Laughter on the Stairs and 3) Sunlight on the Lawn.This non-fiction trilogy (somewhat fictionalized, as it turns out) focuses on the years – starting in the early 1950s – during which the author purchased and renovated a home and extensive garden in the British countryside. Although they’re ostensibly about gardening, in these books, the author goes off on all sorts of interesting tangents that reflect his singular and eccentric view of the world. But it’s the writing that hooked me. His sensory details – especially when it comes to all things botanic – are amazing. When he says he’s taking readers on a stroll through the garden, they can see, feel and smell it right along with him. Some female readers may be put off by his somewhat misogynistic view (although typical of the times) of the fair sex, but his characterizations of Miss Emily, “Our” Rose and Miss Mint are wonderful. The author was an international journalist, author of 60 books, gardener extraordinaire and a man with opinions on EVERYTHING. I read book #2 first, then #3, then #1. For non-gardeners (I’m one), I think that’s a good order to read the books in, as Merry Hall is heavy with gardening observations and tips that I might have glossed over had I not fallen in love with his writing and storytelling first. I plan to read more of his books – any I can find – including his most recent biography. (He wrote several autobiographies that I’ll look for, too.) (Note: I picked up book #2 at a used book sale some time ago. Although the books were published in the early 1950s, they were all reprinted about a decade ago. The copy I bought was one of the reprints. My husband read it first, and enjoyed it. He’s a real fan of great humorists like P.G. Wodehouse, Robert Benchley and James Thurber. When he told me that he enjoyed the book, I decided to read it. That led to reading the other two. ) 01/26/2010

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Also in the Merry Hall Trilogy series