Beverley Nichols is not an unknown author to me. I first came across his gardening books in an older Bas Bleu catalog (though they don't seem to be carrying any of his books at the moment). The books were lovely reissues of older illustrated editions, which I coveted but never got around to buying. I had all but forgotten about them until I recently was looking for something else on Amazon and came across his name. Almost always my first impulse when finding an interesting-sounding book is to wonder, does the library have this? Although Nichols's writing career spanned some fifty years and he wrote quite a few books I could only find three on my library's shelves. Laughter on the Stairs looked the most promising.
I'm not at all familiar with Timber Press, but they publish books on "gardening, ornamental and edible horticulture, garden design, sustainability, natural history, and the Pacific Northwest". And they are located in Portland, Oregon, which is a high mark in their favor (since I want to live in Oregon someday). It looks as though they publish a dozen or so of Nichols's books. Laughter on the Stairs is actually the second book in a trilogy about the renovation of a house and garden. One reviewer called his books a cross between P.G. Wodehouse and J.M. Barrie. They sound sort of magical with a charming streak running through them.
Laughter on the Stairs was published in 1954, and it looks as though this was a popular book and much circulated. The inside pages are almost pristine, but the book is coming loose from its binding. I like to think of books as much loved and often enjoyed, and I wonder about the people who checked this out thirty or forty years ago. The trilogy began with Merry Hall, continues with Laughter on the Stairs and wraps up with Sunlight on the Lawn. The books chronicle Nichols's experiences renovating a Georgian mansion and its gardens after WWII. The jacket blurb reads in part:
"In Laughter on the Stairs Beverley Nichols writes amusingly, honestly and with deftness and ease. With great effect he utilizes his exquisite gift for landscaping and decoration, his sound knowledge of flowers trees, houses and period furniture. Funny, knowledgeable, deeply cognizant of the values of the old and beautiful, Laughter on the Stairs is the perfect book for a person who loves gardens and country homes."
Do you ever feel as though a book was written with you in mind? That's how I feel with this one. Do you think it matters whether the books are read out of order? It seems a perfect spring book! By the way there are lovely engravings throughout similar to what you see in the photo. Another book that should not be lost in the stacks at all!