- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Timber Press (January 27, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1604690445
- ISBN-13: 978-1604690446
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,845,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beverley Nichols: A Life Paperback – January 27, 2009
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Beverley Nichols was a multitalented, nearly frenetic British socialite who would no doubt be humiliated to know that he is best remembered for his garden writings. He starred in movies in the 1920s, wrote music and songs for the theater, reported for newspapers, and wrote his own memoirs early on (Twenty-Five), plus numerous novels, mysteries, cat books, and biographies. He captured all his wild enthusiasms in print, and--lucky for us--he loved plants, gardens, and the eccentric personalities associated with them, which he celebrated in books about his own houses and gardens, Down the Garden Path, Merry Hall, Laughter on the Stairs, and Sunlight on the Lawn.
This biography re-creates Nichols's lively role in the English social milieu between and after the wars. Nichols consorted with the best and brightest (or the most written and talked about, anyway) for more than 40 years. He spent time with the Greek royal family, interviewed President Coolidge, and maintained friendships with Cecil Beaton, Noel Coward, and Somerset Maugham. Somehow he found time not only to create and care for gardens but also to write about them, and putting the man in the setting helps to understand and further appreciate his garden writings.
While A Life certainly throws light on the circumstances of Nichols's life, readers familiar with the man from his own melodramatic autobiography Father Figure may close the covers of this book no more enlightened about his emotional reactions to growing up one of three sons with a mother he idealized and a drunken father he abhorred, or his unfulfilling personal life as a homosexual in a time when such behavior was illegal and widely unacceptable. --Valerie Easton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Handsome, urbane, and multitalented, Nichols has emerged as one of the most enduring garden writers of the previous century. Curious readers who have just discovered the reprinted Merry Hall trilogy will relish Connon's candid look at the man who is perhaps best remembered for these charming books. In a convincing and copiously researched biography, Connon establishes the fact that a survey of Nichols' impressive vita, encompassing journalist, novelist, playwright, satirist, and musical composer, cannot begin to reveal the true identity of this complicated twentieth-century Renaissance man. Mercurial in his likes and dislikes, Nichols often executed remarkable professional turnabouts. In 1944, for instance, he followed his nonfiction work, Verdict in India, with the very popular children's book The Tree That Sat Down. Expect fans to ask for this fascinating portrayal of Nichols' life and times, with its continuous procession of celebrities and bon vivants. Alice Joyce --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
That said, it was an enjoyable, objective, and thoroughly entertaining biography which paints an accurate picture of Nichols without tarnishing his many accomplishments.
Connors brings to life the Beverley many fans never got to see, as many of his readers only read his Gardening books. Nichols holds to his credit several autobiographies, no less than five mysteries, several political novels, and multiple weekly columns in various American and British newspapers and magazines. Beverley was also a noted composer, and even appeared in film. His good looks and charm allowed him a very versatile carreer.
The novel unravlels fact from fiction, as many readers assumed his novels were all unadulterated fact. The truth is he mixed fiction with many of his books, lending a skewed vision of the author-and one that Connor does a brilliant job straightening out.
Mr. Nichols worked with Connor on this book, and had help from Beverley's life long companion/friend Cyril Butcher. The book outlines his upbringing in a whirlwind society of notable people and places to his fascinating life filled with so many that sometimes the biography reads more like a "Who's Who" of the 20's through the 70's. Beverley was friends or friendly with some of the most noteworthy people of the day, including Beaton, Coward, and Maughm. It is not a scandal biography, rather a warm portrait of an amazingly entertaining man.
The photographs in the book are wonderfully clear, and allow the reader a glimpse of his childhood, adolesence, and later years. Again, he is shown with many celebrities of his time.
There are bits that reveal a sad, depressed Beverley who struggeled with finance-and chapters about the socialite Beverley who never gave up an opportunity to hob nob and make new social alliances. Other parts reveal the very full romantic life of Nichols. All together, a charming portrait of one of Britains most notable men. This book is a must for all Nichols fans!