Greenery Street by Denis Mackail

I have had this little gem sitting, gathering dust, on my bookshelf for well over a year and my goodness, if I had known how utterly delightful it was going to be, I would have read it as soon as I had bought it.

Greenery Street traces the first six or so months of Ian and Felicity Foster’s marriage. They are a young, well to do couple living in relative penury off the King’s Road (those of us struggling to make ends meet in far less trendy postcodes must just ignore this detail, and not let it affect our feelings for Ian and Felicity) in the mid 1920’s, and it is nice to know that Ian and Felicity are based on the author and his wife Diana, and their first home on Walpole Street, which is near where I work and I am pleased to affirm is absolutely delightful, right down to its little wrought iron balconies. I say nice, because Denis Mackail comes across as such a thoroughly decent, humorous soul through the narrative voice he uses, and I like to think that he was just as happy in his time as Ian and Felicity. I hope he was.

Somehow, without really having much in the way of plot or drama, Greenery Street manages to be the most charming, wonderful and engrossing book I’ve read in a long time. It restored my faith in love and hope and the small pleasures in life, and, perhaps most importantly, it made me chuckle on the train, which is always a great achievement. The day to day pleasures and difficulties of everyday life viewed through the perfectly preserved early 20th century viewpoint of Ian and Felicity are simply magical to read. I especially loved the dialogue, filled with all sorts of ‘simply ripping’, ‘rot’ and ‘I say, old chap’ phrases that us 21st century dwellers find it difficult to believe anyone actually used to say with a straight face. In fact, I loved this book so much I just wanted to cuddle it and look after it and never stop reading it, but sadly it has come to an end and I am left with a sad face and an even larger overdraft after discovering shockingly expensive sequels on alibris (Tales from Greenery Street and Ian and Felicity). The pleasure of reading further adventures will be worth the temporary financial pain, I hope!

In the photo provided I’ve shown Greenery Street with a nice cup of tea and a chocolate hobnob, and that’s exactly how it should be read. On the sofa, with a comforting warm drink and plenty of biscuits. It’s the perfect antidote to the endless dreariness of an English summer. You can get a far nicer edition than mine here.