Novels of Nancy Mitford
This month I read a very good book on Nancy Mitford Nancy Mitford A Biography by Selina Hastings and an excellent account of her sister Diana Mitford's involvement with British Fascists, Mrs Guinness The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford The 1930s Socialite by Lyndsy Spence.
Everyone says the best of Nancy Mitford's numerous novels are The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. I have not yet decided if I will try to read all her novels but for sure I wanted to read these two, both centering on a large English family with lots of eccentric characters.
The Pursuit of Love had me laughing out loud with a few pages. The head of the extended family, Uncle Matthew is a comic masterpiece. His wife Aunt Sadie is a perfect match for him. Uncle Matthew is as English as one can be. He beat eight Germans to death in World War One. The novel is narrated by his niece who was left in his care when her other, called "The Bolter" because of her frequent habit of leaving one man for another left. The prose style of Mitford is just exquisite.
1904 to 1973
To give an example e of the general zaniness of the family, Uncle Matthew has four beloved blood hounds and he and the children stage hunts in which the children, with s good head start, try to hide from the dogs. It is called "Child Hunting Day". It so funny and just wonderfully written.
Most of the children are girls. Of course they are concerned with love. We see their efforts to figure out how children are conceived and their complete astonishment when a forty year old lady falls in love. I mean what could be the point at that age!
First Edition Paperback
There are two dominant plot themes. One concerns a romance with a very interesting Frenchmen who everyone says us modeled on the love of Nancy's life (the book is dedicated to him). The other is the impact of World War Two on the family. I just loved both of these aspects of the novel. The depiction of World War Two in London, the bombings, is just brilliant. The portrayal of life during the rationing years of the war is just so wonderful.
There are tragic elements in The Pursuit of Love, the minor characters are just marvelous, you will really like the Spanish refugee who joins the family during the war.
I will very shortly read Love in a Cold Climate and I do see a Nancy Mitford read through in the cards.