This is the first book which I’ve read by Beverley Nichols and I did enjoy it, but then it’s about how he bought his country cottage, actually three small cottages knocked into one, and how he planned and planted the surrounding garden and woodland. There are a few lists of plants and trees which he bought for the garden and there are verbal spats between him and Mrs M, his neighbour and gardening rival.
The book is wittily sarcastic and catty, and speaking of cats, he has also written books about them, he was obviously a cat lover. That’s quite an unusual combination, gardeners are often plagued by the neighbourhood cats who can be quite destructive and have a habit of lying all over your seedlings, and I’ll not mention the unmentionables which they leave behind!
By the time Nichols wrote this he was in his mid 30s and enjoying a successful career as a playwright, novelist and he even dabbled with music, writing for the opera singer Nellie Melba. Melba is mentioned in Down the Garden Path, in fact he does quite a lot of name dropping but he obviously mixed with people such as Melba, Somerset Maugham, Ramsay MacDonald and Rebecca West. He throws in some local peasants for extra colour – you can’t get the servants you know!
The book was first published in 1932 and my copy is a 1933 edition, a fourtenth impression, so I think I can safely say that this was a very popular book in its day. It’s illustrated by Rex Whistler.
Ages ago I saw someone remarking that they remembered seeing Beverley Nichols on TV shows years ago, I think this must have been before my time as I don’t recall seeing him. Apparently he was a sort of upper class, madly camp pain in the neck and total snob. I can quite imagine it but going by this book his writing is entertaining, so I’ll be reading the sequel, A Thatched Cottage, which I already have.