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Greenery Street by Denis Mackail

Greenery Street (1925)

by Denis Mackail

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I really enjoyed this one. I read that P.G. Wodehouse liked it a lot and that was recommendation enough for me. A delightful story of a young couple setting up housekeeping for the first time on Greenery Street. A hidden treasure. I'm glad I found it. ( )
  njcur | Jan 20, 2015 |
I wonder how this story would be told if it was written by a woman? I loved it. The female, Felicity, is on the surface a bit superficial, but by the end you realise she is a young woman finding meaning in her life. The male, Ian, at first appears superior, but in fact he is far from it. Together these two young people learn how to live together. There is a lot of warmth, some very unusual angles - the houses talk. - and the effect is a fascinating creative work about life in 1920 s s middle class England. ( )
  annejacinta | Mar 6, 2014 |
Greenery Street is the story of a year in the life of a young married couple. The street of the title is a symbol of a way of life; the first-time houses that young married people have before they begin having families. The couples always vow to stay longer, but when they begin to have children, they move onward and upward in search of larger houses in which to live. The novel is based on Denis Mackail’s experience living as a newlywed in Walpole Street, in a house that had apparently once been occupied by PG Wodehouse and that was later occupied by the author Jan Struther. Mackail himself came from a rather exalted family; he was related to Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin,; his sister was Angela Thirkell (who apparently was quite a bully) and his nephew was Colin MacInnes. Mackail grew up as a nervous child, only finding refuge in marriage; his first year of marriage, fictionalized in this book, was one of the happiest times of his life.

Ian and Felicity are one of the married young couples that move into Greenery Street to begin their life together. They’re not so much characters as they are stereotypes; Felicity is pretty much the perfect housewife (or at least she tries to be), and Ian is the young working husband. It’s a rather dated view of marriage (although keep in mind that the book was published in the 1920s), and a dated way of viewing how houses should be arranged (as the preface says, a 5-story terraced house today seems adequate in which to raise children, but that’s only if you don’t consider the servants a middle-class family had). The novel is written very much like a play, complete with stage directions and dialogue. It’s an interesting way to write, but I thought that, combined with regular prose, this way of writing was confusing and broke up the flow of the story. Mackail frequently switches from the present tense to the past tense, which also distracted from the flow of the story. ( )
2 vote Kasthu | Mar 2, 2013 |
This novel, both written and set in the 1920s, centers around the fictional Greenery Street in London, where newlyweds Felicity and Ian Foster have just bought a house. The book has no plot to speak of; rather, it chronicles the first year of the Fosters’ marriage in a lighthearted and affectionate manner. Ian and Felicity struggle with daily finances, irritating neighbors, unmanageable servants, and occasional arguments between themselves. However, their mutual love and boundless optimism seem to carry them through all their difficulties.

As with the other Persephone books I’ve read this year, I enjoyed this book very much as a light and charming read. Ian and Felicity aren’t the brightest people in the world, but they still remain lovable throughout all their muddles and mix-ups. Though their problems are often self-inflicted and a bit silly, these characters are always well-meaning and goodhearted, which makes them fun to read about. The authorial voice often intrudes into this novel, which may bother some people – Mackail does get a bit cute at times – but I didn’t mind it at all. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to dive into the frivolous side of the 1920s.
3 vote christina_reads | Nov 24, 2011 |
I really wanted to love this book and I couldn't quite manage it. I was intrigued by PG Wodehouse's praise for it and by the fact that it deals with the first year of a happy marriage rather than the much more common subjects of courtship or marital disaster. It is by no means devoid of charm or humour and there are genuinely touching moments, as when Our Hero and his terrifying future father-in-law discover common ground, but it has dated badly. It can be dreadfully arch and the narrator patronises Our Heroine in a manner likely to make any red-blooded 21st Century female reader grind her teeth. ( )
1 vote Dowsabel | Feb 26, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Denis Mackailprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cohen, RebeccaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It would clearly be an exaggeration to say that every young couple begins life in Greenery Street.
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