|Beverley Nichols in the garden of Merry Hall|
with its 'peculiar crane' at the edge of the pool
1. He uses great verbs. On one page alone you have twist, swing, totter, delve, dream, stagger, trip, suffocate, lurk, and devote.
2. He uses unbiased gender pronouns - he and she or him and her instead of just the male pronoun. (And this was in the '50s.) For example...When a visitor first sees my garden, he or she breathes a sigh of serenity.
3. He writes brilliant dialogue.
4. There is always something to learn from Mr. Nichols whether it is about music, myths, or mice. His diversions and asides are just as witty and scintillating as the main story.
5. He knows his cats. And he loves them, as well as all animals. He can't even stand to swat a bee on a windowsill but instead catches it in a matchbox and releases it back into the garden.
6. He quickly captures the essence of his neighbors and friends - Bob with the his gold pocket chain and charms that he jingles when upset; Marius with his knowledge of just about everything, Our Rose with her reckless and energetic flower arrangements; Miss Emily with her practical nature which often clashes with Our Rose's more ethereal personality; and Miss Mint whose brutal childhood has made her quite timid and yet is such a kind person and everyone loves her.
7. In Sunlight on the Lawn, he provides instructions for making a lavender fan with fresh lavender stalks, starched muslin, and ribbon.
8. When it comes to beauty in house or garden, expense be damned.
9. I actually love the fact that he employs Gaskin, his "Jeeves", and Ted, a male secretary. I wish I had such helpmates.
10. He has generously chosen William McLaren, a fine, talented Scottish gentleman, to illustrate the Merry Hall trilogy. This makes the books not only a delight to read but a joy to look at.