Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Sisters The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell (2011, 632pages)

I offer my great thanks to Max u for the Amazon Gift Card that allowed me to read this book.

  • Nancy Mitford (1904-1973)
  • Pamela Mitford (1907-1994)
  • Thomas Mitford (1909-1945)
  • Diana Mitford (1910-2003)
  • Unity Mitford (1914-1948)
  • Jessica Mitford (1917-1996)
  • Deborah Mitford (1920-2014)

My interest in the famous and infamous six sisters of the Mitford family began when I read Nancy Mitford A Biography by Selana Hastings.  Next I read a fascinating account of the involvement of Diana and Unity Mitford with the British Union of Fascists and their admiration for Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, Mrs Guiness The Decline of Diana Mitford The 1930s Socialite by Lyndsy  Spence. Since then I have read four of her novels and have decided to read all eight of them.  The most famous are The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate.  Her novels are often drawn from her family and romantic life.

The Sisters The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell is a great family history.  The father  of the sisters, there was one brother, Tom killed in World War II, was a land rich country aristocrat. A baron whose title goes back to the Normans.  The girls grew up with a battalion of servants in a grand house but sometimes cash was a little tight  the father did not believe in formal schooling for girls but they were systematically home schooled.  All of the girls were tall, slender and strikingly attractive. 

     Far left Mother Sidney Mitford, then, I think, Nancy with the dog, not sure of others but for brother Tom, father far right

The sisters were drawn into the social conflicts in England prior to World War Two.  Diana and Unity became devotees of Fascist ideology.  Unity fell totally under the spell of Hitler and Disns ended up divorcing an heir to the Guiness family to marry Oswald Mosley, head of the British  Union of Fascists and want to be Furher of England.  She and her husband spent much of the war in prison as potentially dangerous.  Unity attempted suicide when England and Germany sent  to war.  She survived for a few years with a bullit lodged in her brain but at a much lowered mental state. In defense of this, the future plans of Hitler were not known by most at the time and many wealthy Europeans supported the Nazis as an alternative to Communism.  Their mother admired Hitler even after the war began. Lovell tells us that her husband's extreme anti-German attitude ended the marriage in all but name. Jessica Mitford became a communist and wrote a famous book on the American funeral industry. She spent much of her adult life in America involved in campaigns for social justice. 

         Unity Mitford and Adolph Hitler.  She had 145 audiences with Hitler, whom she worshipped. You can find claims she organized sex or vies for top Nazis but most don't find this credible.

        Nancy Mitford, the book shows how much of her fiction 
        Arose from her family and romantic expereinces.

 Debiorah married a duke and became The Duchess of Devonshire, fabulously wealthy.  She managed one of the grandest stately homes in England and wrote a dozen books. Prince Chsrles attended her funeral. 

 Pamela, the perhaps least known of the sisters, married and divorced a wealthy physicist considerd a genius.  Nancy of course became a famous novelist.  Most people's interest in the Mitfords begins with the reading of her novels.  

The book does a first rate job of bringing the family to life.  There was lots of drama, chiefly arising from Nancy and Jessica's opposition to Unity and Diana's support of Hitler.  The book is also a social history of England, very interesting on the treatment of the war years.  

     Diana and Unity

This is a first rate book, very well structured and researched.  I found it fascinating. If you want to learn more about the Mitford's than is found in Wikepedia, The Sisters The Saga of the Mitford Family would be a very good pick.  There are a lot of fascinating things to be learned from Mary S. Lovell's book. 

Mel u

1 comment:

Lisbeth Ekelof said...

I have this book, although called "The Mitford Girls". Great book about a fascinating family? Thank u for all the posts about them.