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Wait for Me!: Memoirs

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,552 ratings  ·  257 reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’CHOICE

Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the famously witty brood that includes the writers Jessica and Nancy. Wait for Me! chronicles her remarkable life, from an eccentric but happy childhood roaming the Oxfordshire countryside, to tea with her sister Unity and Adolf Hitler in 1937, to her marriage to Andrew Cavendish, the
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Picador (first published September 1st 2010)
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Mariel
Jan 12, 2012 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lauren
Recommended to Mariel by: Lauren
I bought Deborah Mitford's (I refuse to call her Debo. Just try and make me!) memoir Wait for me! for my twin sister as a Christmas present. I tried not to get her something that I wanted to read and she had little interest in. Because I would never do something like that. If my twin was Deborah Mitford (I refuse to call her Laur for this review) she could write a memoir that goes like this: "Mariel was always kind to use her interesting taste to push me into reading books that I would otherwise ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
What an advantage for an author of autobiographer to outlive most of the other people in one’s life so that one may be perfectly honest about one’s opinions of them. This is the case with Deborah Mitford (actually Deborah Cavendish) in this slightly unfocused memoir. No feelings are hurt when she points out that Evelyn Waugh was very witty when sober – but he was sober for such a short time and the rest of the evening he was miserably insulting. And she can be honest about her father’s having le ...more
Nick
I'll read anything related to the Mitfords but there's no getting around it: Deborah doesn't write as well as Nancy or Jessica. She is best when she’s describing her upbringing, but even then she relies on the published words of her sisters from time to time. By the final third of the book, it’s become a long list of events and celebrated people whom she’s entertained and it gets both a little confusing and a little boring. As Janet Maslin noted in her review in the Sunday Times in December, whe ...more
Lois
Wait for Me, a Memoir by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire.

Having just read Mary Lovell's "The Sisters", I found the first part of this repetitive with many of the same photos and stories. Lovell, however, is a much better writer. A good deal of this book is apparently based on her appointment books and diaries and seems like a recital of where she went, who she met, what she did, giving a detailed account of what it is like to be a duchess. She was a staunch Conservative and even demonstra
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Ali

I have, over the last few years become something of a Mitford addict. Having read several biographies, a couple of collections of letters and many of Nancy's novels I am seriously hooked. Some of the tales recounted in the beginning of this book, I have encountered before - but I love them, it's like meeting up with old friends. Of course Debo (as any Mitford fan will know her) was born 16 years after the eldest Nancy, and so her childhood expirences and relationships with her siblings differ fr
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Drayton Bird
I thought this book - written at the age of 90 - very good indeed, and a fine corrective to those who think Downton Abbey accurately reflects the lives of the English Aristocracy.

I was reminded of the phrase often used that someone "knew anybody who was anybody", because the author met an astonishing number of the people who shaped the 20th century and describes what they were like very well.

The index gives you a pretty good idea. She had tea with Hitler,was related to Churchill, verhy friendly
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Danielle Raine
Wait for Me is much more than an account of life within the Mitford family (though that aspect is certainly entertaining). Throughout her life, Debo had a priveledged access to the highter echelons of society, both in her home country and, (as the wife of a government minister and close friend of Presidents), across the world. Although she was not born a Duchess, Debo did come from a very well connected aristocratic family. Despite this, she retained a down-to-earth personality - as happy on a h ...more
Jennifer
I have been fascinated by the Mitfords for years so when I knew I was coming to the UK I decided that one of the books I would pack was Deborah Devonshire's memoir Wait for Me! Every member of the Mitford family has their own amazing points of interest whether it's Diana's marriage to fascist leader Oswald Moseley, Nancy's wit and literary career, or Unity's devotion to Hitler. They had their own languages and nicknames growing up that they continued to use their whole lives - the clan feels lik ...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
One day I will write a review of this big book by a very big personality who does not have the same frame of reference as the rest of us.

The Duchess loves keeping chickens and running her little shops as well as the magnificent palace she calls home. When launching her London store, she called on Prince Charles and asked him to pop in, as it would give her some publicity. Not our world, eh? But you wouldn't hold anything against her, she doesn't have a snobbish or malicious bone in her body, a l
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Melee
Not the most compelling read at times, but quite interesting. The bits about her sisters were golden, of course. Several mysteries from The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters were cleared up for me. Such as, what the phrase "Do admit." means. Those words often popped up in their letters and I was amused by it but could never figure out what they meant exactly. Also, I found out why everyone referred to Debo's friend, Kitty Mersey, as "Wife" or "My Wife". So, I was rather delighted to have tho ...more
Jaylia3
This is a wonderful new addition to the Mitford canon by Deborah, The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, known as "Debo". Her sisters Nancy, Diana and Jessica (Decca) long ago wrote their own books, but being the youngest and only living sibling Debo brings a different perspective to WAIT FOR ME!. Nancy and the other older children hated having to move from Asthall Manor, where they had freedom and privacy because their rooms were in a converted barn, but Debo, then six, loved their new home at Swin ...more
Ceilidh
Deborah Cavendish, better known as the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and the last remaining Mitford sister, has lived a life so eventful that it almost seems mythical. From her oft-discussed childhood with her five sisters to tea with Hitler and helping to revive the ailing fortunes of the famed Cavendish estate, there is much in Debo’s life that has yet to be covered by the numerous biographies, memoirs of her sisters and collections of letters that have packed the shelves. Unfortunately, “Wait ...more
Kennedy
I think the Mitford family is fascinating. They were such a part of history.

I really enjoyed the first part of this book. It is Debo's childhood and teen years and has lots of great stories about her family members.

However, when it got to the point where her father-in-law, the Duke of Devonshire died and the family had to pay death taxes it went down hill quickly for me. They had to pay 80% taxes, which yes, is a huge portion of their wealth. But when she's saying how they had to sell off 42,0
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Mo
A bunch of random remembrances, strung together without much regard for interest, amusement, nor continuity.

For example: This is one entire paragraph, in which the author describes her father (Farve).

’My good clothes’ were cosseted like his car and gun. Mabel the parlourmaid was in charge and he was always well dressed. In the country, his appearance was indistinguishable from that of a gamekeeper, an occupation that would have suited him to the ground. He wore a brown velveteen waistcoat, alte
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Nette
Mixed feelings. The first half, which describes her childhood, was charming and funny, although I've already read most of the same stories in her sisters' books. The second half, which focuses on her stately home(s) and her horses and her la-de-da guests, didn't interest me at all. She comes off as shallow and and clueless. I was put off by the running commentary about the the glorious past vs the annoying present. She pines for the days when people were SO much more glamorous, and it was easier ...more
Norma
Wonderfully written account of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's early years as the youngest sibling in the well-known Mitford line-up. While I haven't rated it as "amazing," (doesn't always apply, does it?)* I loved this book. It's so funny to note that, as was often repeated in her letters to Patrick Leigh Fermor (in the book,"In Tearing Haste"), Debo was known to detest reading, which makes it hard to understand how she turned out to be such a good writer.

There's a very good video online o
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CS
Ah, the Mitford sisters.

No matter if you are Team Nancy or Team Decca (the two sisters that seem to enjoy the most support, probably because both were prolific writers during their lives - and also because no one really wants to claim Team Unity or Team Diana thanks to their avid support of Fascism), there is something for everyone in Debo's memoir. The last surviving Mitford, Debo tells her side of the family lore already made familiar thanks to Nancy's fiction and Decca's autobiography.

One ha
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Lisa Jarman
A really interesting book about a remarkable life of duty and privilege. The book can be a little dry in places but it isn't without humour. What i found really fascinating was how having a title could really open doors for you in the past in a way that it probably no longer does. Deborah Devonshire is obviously a bright and energetic individual who gets involved with many organisations and companies, making a great success of her roles but you do wonder if she would have been on the board of Ta ...more
Beth Bonini
I have an insatiable fascination for the Mitford sisters, but I have mostly read about them from a biographer's point-of-view. (An exception would be Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels -- but Debo claims that a lot of the material in that was highly exaggerated!) This is no personal diary, though, and although interesting -- it is far from revealing. DD makes it clear that her sisters tended to keep their own counsel on personal matters and their innermost thoughts, even from each other; so with ...more
^
Deborah Devonshire (DD) writes superbly. She knows how to tell a story because she looks at the world not only from her own direct experience, but also from her ever-present keen consideration of those around her. To find such selflessness is a truly humbling experience in itself. There is a very British saying, 'By your friends ye are known'. Selflessness engenders deep and loyal friendships, and many, many of them. At this point I have to also compliment her editor, Charlotte Moseley, and her ...more
Carolyn
Well, I loved this book, but then I'm a bit of an anglophile and I did visit Chatsworth 14 years ago (and stayed at the wonderful Devonshire Arms)and found it breathtaking. I'm also fascinated by the Mitford sisters and have read a number of works about them. This autobiography combines all those interests in a sort of perfect storm. Add into that elements of the Kennedy's, the Bright Young People of the 20's/30's, a ton of great discussion of architecture, gardening and a wide smattering of var ...more
David Conway
A self-indulgent and ultimately tedious catalogue of names,dates and scandalous privilege. Were the author to acknowledge the last of these - rather than advocate, as she does, its preservation - one might feel more sympathetic. As it is, with the brouhaha surrounding the Queen's Jubilee already gathering strength, this book is a timely reminder of how class-ridden British society still is. Hitherto mildly left-leaning, nothing more, I now yearn for the sound of the tumbrels. Moreover, having go ...more
Cynthia Hamilton
I first read about this book "Wait for Me!" in a Vogue magazine article about the Duchess and one of her granddaughters, the model, Stella Tennant. I became intrigued by the anecdotes and the down-to-earth playfulness of a woman in her nineties, who had seen so much in her lifetime, and I ordered the book immediately. I was easily caught up in her unique view of the 20th century, and I enjoyed being able to see events from her perspective as her life changed - from being the youngest of seven in ...more
Amanda R. Kelly
The youngest of seven siblings from one of the most renowned aristocratic families in Britain, the author reflects on her life--from her childhood at Asthall Manor to her seat as Dowager Duchess.

While cavorting with the upper echelons of English society as a young woman, Deborah met her future husband, Andrew Cavendish. When Andrew’s older brother was suddenly killed in WW2, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Chatsworth, inheriting extensive estates and significant responsibility.

Though
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Jessica Leight
This book was in some respects charming, though it also had moments that were tedious, and still others when I was somewhat surprised by the author's naivete. No one could dispute that Deborah Devonshire had a fascinating life, and she does have many interesting tidbits to share. Less interesting are the long strings of random reminisces, particularly in the last quarter of the book (which would have benefited from a complete overhaul in editing). It is also somewhat startling to hear her simply ...more
Diane
When I recently finished 'Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family', a friend said, "Didn't one of them own a stately home?" I had been so gobsmacked by the 'political sisters', that I'd almost forgotten Deborah, the youngest, who was almost a minor character in the 'group biography'.

She married Andrew Cavendish who became the Duke of Devonshire, so she did indeed own a stately home, 'Chatsworth House'. In this Memoir, Debo gives a completely engaging account of what it was like to be mistress o
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Suzanne
Most of it is delightful, with surprising sentences sprinkled througout, e.g.:
“After breakfast he refilled his coffee cup and took it to his study. He let it get cold and drank what he called his ‘suckments’ at intervals during the morning. A tidy, new-to-the-job maid took the cup back to the pantry, emptied and washed it. This enraged my father: ‘Some monkey’s orphan has taken my suckments.’ Thereafter he locked the cup in his safe.”

And examples of true English eccentricity:
“He begged plumes f
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Melody
I suspect that this is precisely the wrong place to start with the Mitfords. I was thrown willy-nilly into a confusing jumble of nicknames (each person has several), titles and anecdotes. I retire bloody and beaten.

Mitford aficionados, I'm open for advice.
Roger Boyle
Margaret lent me this - it's signed by the author.

She has so much material it could not fail to be interesting so I enjoyed it. How can you not enjoy reading about Hitler, Evelyn Waugh, Kennedy ... But too often she says "This has been written about elsewhere", and returns to the merely domestic (domestic in her terms, not yours or mine).

How the other half lives. Not half, of course. This woman's definition of everything that matters (line "hard up") is very far removed from the normal, and this
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Lydia
OK, I'm a fan. This book was especially fun to read post-season Downton Abbey. Deborah Mitford describes her near-royal life with 5 Mitford sisters and one brother. She wrote this when she was 90 years in 2010, nearly blind, from her cottage in Edensor. She managed the 30,000 acre Chatsworth estate for half of her life married to the Duke of Devonshire. She took the estate from owing $200M in death taxes to making a $7M profit a year. Three of her sisters wrote books, plus all six wrote daily le ...more
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  • The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
  • Nancy Mitford
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Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, was brought up in Oxfordshire, England. In 1950 her husband, Andrew, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, inherited extensive estates in Yorkshire and Ireland as well as Chatsworth, the family seat in Derbyshire, and Deborah became chatelaine of one of England’s great houses. She is the author of All in One Basket, Wait for Me!, Coun ...more
More about Deborah Cavendish...
In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor Counting My Chickens . . .: And Other Home Thoughts Chatsworth: The House All in One Basket Home To Roost and Other Peckings

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