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Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  338 ratings  ·  32 reviews
“Decca” Mitford lived a larger-than-life life: born into the British aristocracy—one of the famous (and sometimes infamous) Mitford sisters—she ran away to Spain during the Spanish Civil War with her cousin Esmond Romilly, Winston Churchill’s nephew, then came to America, became a tireless political activist and a member of the Communist Party, and embarked on a brilliant ...more
Hardcover, 744 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Knopf
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Like many, I am fascinated by the Mitford sisters. Books-wise, so far, I have only read "Hons and Rebels" by Jessica Mitford. Having read "Hons and Rebels" I was interested to find out more about her. Perhaps a 700 page plus book of her letters, and that covers her entire life, was a bit too ambitious. I cannot pretend to have read every letter contained in the book however I managed to read plenty, and I came away from the book even more impressed by Jessica (aka Decca) than I had expected.

Oh, how I shrieked over these! Besides the eternal Mitford fascination, I loved reading about Decca's muckraking career, which isn't really covered in either of her two autobiographies (Hons and Rebels and A Fine Old Conflict), and about the things she left out of the autobiographies, most notably her reaction to the death of her son, Nicholas, at the age of ten in a car-bike accident (which is barely mentioned in A Fine Old Conflict).

Now I would like someone to do a collection of the Duchess o
It's rare that I rate a book 5 stars. This one deserved nothing less.

I read this HUGE book of letters over the course of 3 months. I delved in and out, but often found myself reading more than I intended at each sitting. These letters cover a huge span of Jessica Mitford's life, from childhood to old age. They encompass various topics of love, loss and family life and her work both in and out of the communist party. Decca was heavily involved in civil rights, as well as campaigning for other ca
Books-wise, so far, I have only read "Hons and Rebels" by Jessica Mitford, and, earlier this week, Highland Fling, my first Nancy Mitford.

Having read "Hons and Rebels" I was interested to find out more about Jessica Mitford. Perhaps a 700 page plus book of her letters, and that covers her entire life, was a bit too ambitious. I cannot pretend to have read every letter contained in the book however I managed to read plenty, and I came away from the book even more impressed by Jessica (aka Decca)
Only informative parts were the introductions to each sections and the copious footnotes which explained just what she was going on about. Only got this because I read it was an influence on J.K. Rowling, but what a snooze! So boring I ended up skimming the latter two-thirds. Had bits and pieces but didn’t really tell me what was going on in her life! Very frustrating. Saw a mention about her biracial grandsons, but had to search to find anything about them, and there was precious little about h ...more
Mark Gaulding
I just finished this remarkably EPIC and fascinating book about Jessica Mitford. Having read quite a bit about the Mitford Sisters helped I think in understanding the letters but I must say that I find her after reading the book the most remarkable of all of the truly exceptional and interesting Mitford sisters. The book is truly brilliant in every respect. This book is my favorite book thus far this year. My favorite book in 2008 was the Collected Letters of the Mitford Sisters.

I haven't read
Carl Rollyson
"Compilations of correspondence are necessarily biographies of a kind—biographies of individual consciousness with less intrusive mediation and interpretation than one finds in a traditional biography," Peter Y. Sussman, editor of "Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford" writes. But what constitutes "less intrusive mediation"? Jessica Mitford supplied an admirable answer, which Mr. Sussman quotes: "The whole point of letters is to reveal the writer & her various opinions & let the chips f ...more
Jessica "Decca" Mitford wrote some very entertaining letters, but it seems strange to read only one half of any correspondence. The editor includes sufficient biographical information to put the letters in to context and does sometimes explain what was said in the letters which are responses. I would have liked to see the letters she received as well.
I was most interested in Jessica's life up to 1945, which covers her childhood, teenage rebellion, running off to Spain with Esmond Romilly, first
russell barnes
Feb 04, 2009 russell barnes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to russell by: Louisepepper
Shelves: biog
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This collection of Jessica Mitford's letters gives a fascinating insight into her remarkable world. More than that, it gives one woman's impressions of some of the key moments in 20th Century History. Decca was Winston Churchhill's cousin, active in the Black Civil Rights movement, and appeared before the House Un-American Activities court while a member of the Communist Party, not to mention being friends with some of the leading literary figures of her time. Her letters provide a glimpse into ...more
This is a heavy read in a lot of ways - its a bloody big book! And the subject matter can be a bit heav going in places, but for anone really interested in the Mitfords I would recommend it. Decca had opinions on just about everything and was not afraid to say what she thought. I always had a soft spot for her and this book hasn't changed my opinion.

Thought the editing was EXCELLENT - footnotes very clear and give good explanation for the wide cast of characters who inhabit these letters. I als
Some of the references are a bit dated but most hold up pretty well especially if you are willing to spend some time with the footnotes. She is very funny and parts of this had me laughing out loud, eg: "I'm going for a check-up!...One has to have a thing called a MAMMOGRAM...Katie [her assistant] has one every year and thinks they should be reported to Amnesty International, as what happens is exactly like the tortures one hears described to compel a prisoner to confess or name names."
Lynn Kearney
I seem to have an insatiable taste for the Mitford sisters. Just finished the autbiog of the last survivor, Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and that led me back to Jessica, whose "American Way of Death transfixed me 45 years ago and forward to Nancy's novels which I may not have ever read. This book is huge - to be read in smallish doses, but I am reminded how much there is to like and admire about the lefty sister, (as opposed to the two fascists, Unity and Diana).
This is the best book I've read all year so far. really moving and interesting. By reading this book you will vastly expand your knowledge of the american communist party, how to escape the press, the best way to keep dogs off your lawn, how expensive spas are a waste of money, and what it's like to be married to a duke, amongst other fascinating topics.
Darryl West
Jessica Mitford is a heroine to the enlightened. Her correspondence to casual friends and family recite stories of adventures and social events that most of us only dream of. Like a fairytale wrapped in the harsh realities of life. The book Decca gives us a peak into her extraordinary life.
Rob & Liz
The letters of one of the contreversal Mitford sisters to her friends an family. An enlightening insight into the early years of the Communist Party in the US as well as an insight into the family dynamics from Decca's point of view.

This brilliantly edited collection of letters covering one of the most dynamic periods in history is at once moving, inspiring, informative and of course hilariously funny!
A MUST read.
I found it hard to put these letters down. Decca Mitford is a riot and a compelling writer--and it's fascinating to see how many other interesting and accomplished people she knew.
Peter Y. Sussman
Well, I just LOVE this book. But I suppose that's not not too surprising since I'm the editor of this book and spent six years putting it together.
I enjoy reading anything on the Mitford clan, and this was no exception. V enjoyable.
Gwyn Bailey
Absolutely fascinating range of letters from Decca [Jessica:] Mitford detailing her activisim from the Spanish Civil War onwards. Loved it!
Mar 26, 2007 nic rated it 2 of 5 stars
More letters of correspondence between Jessica Mitford and her siblings. Very interesting family.
Lynette Twaddle
This went purely to prove how awesome this woman really WAS. Brilliant book.
Stick with the Mitford books, the letters are too cliquey and irritating.
An extremely interesting and very funny trip through 20th Century history.
love the mitford sisters. jessica has long been my favorite.
Mar 09, 2009 Jess added it
Scathing indictment of the funeral industry.
Patty Simpson
What a fantastic book/life/person!
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Jun 24, 2012 Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) marked it as neglected_deprived_and_languishing
Shelves: bios
This editor is really pissing me off...
This was thoroughly depressing.
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Jessica Lucy Freeman-Mitford was an English author, journalist and political campaigner, who was one of the Mitford sisters. She gained American citizenship in later life.
More about Jessica Mitford...

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“One is only really inwardly comfortable, so to speak, after one's life has assumed some sort of shape. Not just a routine, like studying or a job or being a housewife, but something more complete than all those, which would include goals set by oneself and a circle of life-time type friends. I think this is one of the hardest things to achieve, in fact often just trying doesn't achieve it but rather it seems to develop almost by accident.” 3 likes
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