I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed the book. I love to read about people's decorating and gardening adventures and so Nichols's books really are right up my alley. The gist of this gardening/home improvement autobiography is this: In the 1920s, Nichols buys a completely run-down little cottage with great potential and makes it over, with plenty of advice and opinions from the quirky locals. In addition to this, it has a lovely garden, which he also fixes up, written about in another book.
There is, of course, much drama involving the whole house being turned into a "ye olde" cottage, filled with fake Tudor pillows and fake Tudor walls, and, well, fake Tudor everything. I laughed out loud so many times at Nichols's wrath. There are adventures and problems galore and the descriptions of the house make it sound perfectly lovely once Nichols finishes it.
Another thing that completely impressed me in reading this book was how Nichols made the house really come alive. I could imagine every room of the house, every color scheme, every bookshelf, every open window. Often home decorating writers have a hard time trying to describe their project. In an era before beautiful home improvement books full of more shiny, artistic photographs than text, a book had to rely on the writer's skill as opposed to the crutch of photographs, a refreshing change.
Now, there were some lovely, lovely illustrations done by Rex Whistler did bring the personality of both the house and the book to life. I appreciated how the illustrations were an aid to the writing, yet did not take the place of the writing. I've included a sample illustration below:
|Credit: Found off of Pinterest. Not very credible, I know, I know...|
That said, Nichols got on my nerves by the end of the book. He strikes me as a waspish little man, never pleased with anything and constantly critical of everybody around him, as well as being a completely priss about his house. This is funny for awhile, but I couldn't read that indefinitely. Oh and his blatant dislike for every. single. female who crosses his path? Also quite annoying.
So those are my thoughts on A Thatched Roof. Would I read something else by Nichols? Maybe. I loved, loved, loved this book, but I think, at least for me, his writing can only be taken in very small doses. Maybe in a year, when I'm feeling inspired about gardening next March, I'll pull out another of his books about his beautiful garden and have another go.