Review: Greenery Street by Denis Mackail

The purpose of my blog has been to connect with like-minded readers and share great books.  This title was recommended to me by one such like-minded reader whose recommendations of books for me always seem to be spot on.  For a full list of wonderful titles from Persephone Books please visit their website:

My Review:
Original-Greenery-Street-cover-422x600Greenery Street is the perfect place in London for the blissfully happy newlyweds with its “thirty-six narrow little houses.”  The street is so charming that every couple moves in with the intention of staying there forever, but as soon as the first baby arrives each couple realizes that Greenery Street is too small to contain a growing family.  This book treats us to the first several months in the life of the charming and adorable newlywed couple, Ian and Felicity Foster.

Ian and Felicity’s courtship and engagement is not an easy road for them especially since Felicity’s father, “Old Humphrey” objects to his daughter’s marriage.  It’s not that he doesn’t like Ian, but it just seems to him that Felicity would never have to do something as complicated as getting married and leaving home.  Old Humphrey is famous for dodging touch decisions and he does this by getting a fever and having to lie in bed for several days whenever a pivotal moment in life arises.

Some readers might this this book mundane since it is the chronicle of a happy marriage.  Mackail’s sense of humor and witty dialogue make ordinary matters like shopping, having lunch, dealing with the servants and paying bills funny and entertaining.  Ian and Felicity are so nice and polite of a couple that when their servants are taking advantage of them and drinking on the job, they can’t even bring themselves to fire them.  The house-parlor maid, who is particularly cranky and awful at her job, is affectionately and secretly called “The Murderess” by the newlyweds.

I was truly delighted by the happiness of this couple and the little ways in which they found to show their love and devotion to each other.  Felicity waits eagerly on their little balcony everyday to greet Ian when he gets home; Ian apologizes and soothes Felicity even when he is not sure what he has done wrong; Felicity secretly sells her grandmother’s pearls when she wants to pay the builder’s bill and not worry Ian over money.

I highly recommend GREENERY STREET as a charming, witty and well-written book.  I could not put this book and read it in only a few sittings.  I am eager to read other titles from Persephone Books.

About The Author:
Denis MackailDenis Mackail was born in Kensington, London to the writer John William Mackail and Margaret Burne-Jones, daughter of the painter Edward Burne-Jones. Educated at St Paul’s School, Hammersmith, he went to Balliol College, Oxford, but failed to complete his degree through ill-health after two years.

His first work was as a set designer, notably for J. M. Barrie’s The adored one and George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1914). The outbreak of World War I interrupted this promising start, however, and Denis, not fit enough for active service, worked in the War Office and the Board of Trade.

In 1917 he married Diana Granet, only child of the railway manager Sir Guy Granet, who was a director-general for railways in the War Office. The couple had two children, Mary (born 28 March 1919) and Anne (born 12 January 1922) and lived in Chelsea, London. It was the necessity of supporting his young family that led Denis to write a novel when office jobs became insecure after the end of the war.

With his novel published, his first short-story accepted by the prestigious Strand Magazine and the services of a literary agent, A. P. Watt, Denis was soon earning enough from his writing to give up office work. He published a novel every year from 1920 to 1938 and among his literary friends were P. G. Wodehouse and A. A. Milne.

During the 1930s Mackail lived at Bishopstone House, Bishopstone near Seaford, Sussex

As therapy from a nervous breakdown, Denis agreed to write the official biography of J. M. Barrie, which appeared in 1941. He went on to produce seven more novels and some books of reminiscences, but after the early death of his wife in 1949, he published no more and lived quietly in London until his death.



Filed under Classics, History, Literary Fiction, Persephone Books

3 responses to “Review: Greenery Street by Denis Mackail

  1. I think I’d like this, and Persephone books are usually a good bet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 21015: A Banner Year for Indie Presses |

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