The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford, with an introduction by India Knight. In print together for the first time in many years, and here in one volume, are all eight of Nancy Mitford's sparklingly astute, hilarious and completely unputdownable novels, with a new introduction by India Knight. Published over a period of 30 years, they provide a wonderful glimpse of tThe Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford, with an introduction by India Knight. In print together for the first time in many years, and here in one volume, are all eight of Nancy Mitford's sparklingly astute, hilarious and completely unputdownable novels, with a new introduction by India Knight. Published over a period of 30 years, they provide a wonderful glimpse of the bright young things of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties in the city and in the shires; firmly ensconced at home or making a go of it abroad; and what the upper classes really got up to in peace and in war. 'Entirely original, inimitable and irresistible' Spectator 'Deliciously funny' Evelyn Waugh 'Utter, utter bliss' Daily Mail Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was born in London, the eldest child of the second Baron Redesdale. Her childhood in a large remote country house with her five sisters and one brother is recounted in the early chapters of The Pursuit of Love (1945), which according to the author, is largely autobiographical. Apart from being taught to ride and speak French, Nancy Mitford always claimed she never received a proper education. She started writing before her marriage in 1932 in order 'to relieve the boredom of the intervals between the recreations established by the social conventions of her world' and had written four novels, including Wigs on the Green (1935), before the success of The Pursuit of Love in 1945. After the war she moved to Paris where she lived for the rest of her life. She followed The Pursuit of Love with Love in a Cold Climate (1949), The Blessing (1951) and Don't Tell Alfred (1960). She also wrote four works of biography: Madame de Pompadour, first published to great acclaim in 1954, Voltaire in Love, The Sun King and Frederick the Great. As well as being a novelist and a biographer she also translated Madame de Lafayette's classic novel, La Princesse de Clèves, into English, and edited Noblesse Oblige, a collection of essays concerned with the behaviour of the English aristocracy and the idea of 'U' and 'non-U'. Nancy Mitford was awarded the CBE in 1972....
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The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford Reviews
Nancy Mitford wrote eight novels in all; often split into her ‘pre war’ and ‘post war’ novels. This collection contains them all: Highland Fling (1931), Christmas Pudding (1932), Wigs On the Green (1935), Pigeon Pie (1940), The Pursuit of Love (1945), Love in a Cold Climate (1949), The Blessing (1951) and Don’t Tell Afred (1960). The pre and post war novels are very different and, also, both the first two novels and the final four, although stand alone books, share characters. So it is nice to read them all in the order they were written in.The first two novels, “Highland Fling” and “Christmas Pudding” are light hearted romantic comedies. The first involves a house party and a generation clash between the older members and the ‘Bright Young Things’. Christmas Pudding sees author Paul Fotheringay staying, undercover, at the house of Lady Bobbin to write an unauthorised biography of one of her ancestors. The third pre-war novel is “Wigs on the Green”, a satirical look of the rise of fascism in 1930’s Europe. Of course, Nancy Mitford was well placed to cast her sharp eye on events – her sister Diana was married to Oswald Mosley and her sister Unity, infamously, flirted with fascism. This book was much edited, but still caused a huge family rift and, wisely, Mitford left it out of print after the war – where it remained for over seventy five years. It is interesting to read, but her least successful novel in my opinion. Pigeon Pie, written during the early months of WWII, sees her back on more assured ground with a comedy, in which Lady Sophia Garfield uncovers a nest of German spies. Doubtless, the war changed Mitford. For one thing, she fell desperately in love. Her masterpiece, The Pursuit of Love was published in 1945 and dedicated to her lover, Gaston Palewski (read The Horror of Love if you are interested in discovering more). This novel introduces Fanny, who features in three of her last novels and is linked to characters in all four of her post war books. The Pursuit of Love follows Fanny’s cousin Linda and her love affairs – including that of French aristocrat Fabrice Sauveterre. Both this and the following Love in a Cold Climate are more mature, slightly darker and wonderfully written. Love in a Cold Climate again features Fanny narrating – this time the central character is Polly Hampton, as heiress who makes an unsuitable marriage. The Blessing is more of a stand alone, although characters are linked to the previous two books. We read of Grace, daughter of Sir Conrad Allingham, and her marriage to Charles-Edouard de Valhubert (a relative of Fabrice Sauveterre). Son Sigi is ‘the Blessing’ of the title, who uses his parents marital difficulties to his own advantage. In the last novel, Don’t Tell Alfred, Fanny takes centre stage, when husband Alfred becomes Ambassador to Paris. This novel deals with the generation gap again, as Fanny’s sons cause all kinds of problems for her, with strange Teddy Boy clothes and bizarre tastes in philosophy and music.These books really are a delight. Although they are funny and charming and written with great humour, they are never sentimental. Mitford has a wicked, often cruel, sense of humour and a sharp and satirical eye. She wrote of the world she knew, in all its absurdity and was not afraid to lampoon herself, friends and family. Nobody should be a reader and not know Uncle Matt, the Bolter and hypochondriac Davey. If you are coming to these novels for the first time I envy you – utterly enjoyable and completely unforgettable.
Long, but the later novels are worthwhile.
Well. This was interesting. Jane Austen meets P.G.Wodehouse. Due to Ms Mitford writing on both sides of WWII there were some very unfortunate "jokes" about fascism, which don't quite carry well to the post-war world. Some of the cheer in her writing took time to recover too, and there are a couple of more serious novels immediately after the war, although there is always a humorous surprise at the end. Like with Wodehouse, marriage always seems the result of some ridiculous misunderstanding, or misinformation, and happiness in the matrimonial state is purely a matter of luck/chance. No doubt this is accurate, so it's almost a shame so much time is wasted on courting nowadays, when one could just dive in to provide a good laugh to spectators.It was a struggle to read through to whole tome in one go, and I would recommend splitting the novels among other reading. On the other hand, it's fascinating to be able to follow the development of a writer.Light, funny reading with a sad, cynical undertone.
I have read some of these novels before: The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate". They are based on a real-life British family. I also watched the PBS mini-series many years ago. It is easy to feel like you are a part of this family and that is why I read them again. There were several children with a cantankerous father who would send a couple of children out and hunt them like a fox hunt. He was more or less oblivious to the social life a person of his status was supposed to lead but that led to his children being different than other. They were very close and a cousin lived with them most of the time and she is the one telling the story. Her mother dropped her off with other relatives as she pursued a cosmopolitan life on the continent. There are good times and then the realities of adulthood. EAch of the two novels were made into a mini-series twice. Here is a link to one. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180369/