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Hons And Rebels

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,509 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
Jessica Mitford, the great muckraking journalist, was part of a legendary English aristocratic family. Her sisters included Nancy, doyenne of the 1920s London smart set and a noted novelist and biographer; Diana, wife to the English fascist chief Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, who fell head over in heels in love with Hitler; and Deborah, later the Duchess of Devonshire. Jessica ...more
Published May 1st 1978 by Interlink Publishing+group Inc (first published 1960)
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Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.25* of five

I fastened on this at a liberry sale I went to recently, remembering that some fellow LTer was on a Mitford Girls kick. I was inspired to buy it by its ten cent price and also its ghastly, 60s-Penguin "artwork" cover. I like that it says "3/6" for a price, so exotic and incomprehensible. And also, The American Way of Death made a **huge** impression on me as a boy, so I wanted to know more about Miss Mitford.

Oh, the joys of being in a master's hands. Mitford dashes off, appa
Sep 04, 2007 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who'd love to kick Hitler's ass
Like J.K. Rowling, I worship Jessica "Decca" Mitford. If I had a daughter, I'd name her after Jessica, who was born into an aristocratic family, ran away with her hunky Communist cousin to fight in the Spanish Civil War, emigrated to the United States without a penny, and became a muckraking journalist with no formal schooling. My mouth was agape the entire time I read HONS AND seemed incredible that Mitford's story wasn't fiction. She devoted her life to fighting fascism, even while ...more
Carol Storm
Witty and smart -- but maybe a little lacking in heart.

It's hard not to like Jessica Mitford. She was born into a world of aristocratic privilege in England, became a Communist, moved to America, and spent her whole life fighting against racism, sexism, and religious hypocrisy. She was as fearless standing up to Klansmen in Mississippi as she was standing up to Brownshirts and Blackshirts in Europe.

So it should be very exciting to read the story of her growing up. Jessica had a very large famil
Dec 31, 2010 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's quite surprising that I hadn't read this book before - as I have become a little addicted to reading about the mad bad Mitfords. This is a really well written, funny memoir from one of those infamous sisters. If anyone asked me who my favourite Mitford was it would be Nancy every time, the most fascinating was Diana, but the one I would have most likely liked in real life - would have been Jessica. Her warmth and likability come across strongly in this book, and she was able to poke gentle ...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Mar 18, 2010 Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
Jessica Mitford was the "Ballroom Communist" of the engagingly eccentric Mitford Family. The second youngest daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdalee, she had an unconventional upbringing where education was the bare minimum to make a good wife. Always wishing for an escape from her family, be it through schooling or politics or moving to another continent, she suffered through being a deb and presentation before the queen and watching her family come apart at the seems due to adivergence in beliefs ...more
Aug 05, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, memoirs, classics
Jessica Mitford's dashing and dramatic life story is almost too good to be true from a biography standpoint--and she's so utterly appealing that I think I have a bit of crush on her. Aristocratic and hilariously eccentric upbringing, one of the famous/infamous Mitford sisters (their number including a noted writer in Nancy, not one but TWO Nazis, and a communist--that's Jessica), elopement with her dreamy second cousin and their travels to go fight in the Spanish Civil War, emmigrating to Americ ...more
Feb 10, 2011 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A spotty memoir that glides over much of the author's early life while providing details on some seemingly random episodes. The picture of her wacky childhood is charmingly told albeit somewhat terrifying to contemplate - I could have used more about each Mitford sister and more insight into how this teeming brood of aristos wound up careening off in wildly different directions. After a gripping tale of Decca's escape to Civil War Spain with her cousin, the teenaged antifascist Esmond Romilly, t ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britlit, history
I have to say I'm rapidly falling prey to Mitford mania, to the point where I've spent the last twenty minutes listing call numbers to check next time I'm at the library (i.e. in a half hour or so). Decca's prose is funny and wry, yet straightforward, making this autobiography approachable and quick. I was actually a little surprised by the short length until I realized she stopped the story at about age twenty; then it made sense.

The mix of political/historical content with family relationship
Nov 27, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who wish they were British
My favorite part about this book was the author's description of her childhood. Her family was delightfully quirky and snobby. I also enjoyed the section about Mitford and her husband selling stockings. However, I did not enjoy most of the parts that involved her relationship with her husband. I have a feeling I would not have liked her husband much. He seemed to have a dilettantish interest in fascism and social justice, and really struck me as being sort of naive and clueless.
Demoted to three stars on re-read because while the first half (basically The Pursuit of Love but with the real names) is delightful in its retelling of the eccentric Mitford upbringing, the second half in which Decca runs away with Esmond Romilly gradually runs out of steam. By the end I was skimming whole chapters --and then it just stopped.

It is obviously written by someone who was still traumatised by that brief, intense, relationship - and the desperately sad death of their daughter. Esmond
Apr 01, 2009 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though she was born into a wonderfully eccentric upper class English family, Jessica Mitford was set on escaping--she started a "running away" savings account at Drummond's Bank in London when she was twelve. At nineteen she eloped with her rebel cousin and they ran away together to the Spanish Civil War--an event that was Huge Big News at the time. Two of her sisters were friends with Hitler, and on hearing what Jessica had done even the poster child for evil was scandalized. (Well, that might ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a love letter to Esmond Romilly...seen through rose tinted glasses of the past and of a first love.

I tried reading this book once before, but struggled to get past the sheer selfishness of both Decca and Esmond. When I first read this book I disliked both intensely, despising Esmond for driving a wedge between Decca and her family, and Decca for being so complacent.
However, I recently read the collection of letters between the 6 sisters and gained more respect for Decca.

Jan 19, 2013 Brenda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I'm in a the midst of another bout of Mitford mania, which is something I come down with every five years or so. Maybe it is because I just finished reading The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate but I did not enjoy Jessica's more realistic take on things in her autobiography Hons and Rebels.

Let me rephrase that. I enjoyed the first half of Hons and Rebels decently enough. It was interesting to hear from Jessica's point of view as one of the younger Mitford girls and she did have a diff
Jessica Mitford's sarcastic and witty tone is directed at her own family in her memoir, Hons and Rebels, of her life growing up in aristocratic English family during the 1920's and 30's. Her upbringing, education by governesses, and adventures with her large family (including some very eccentric sisters) are right out of a 19th century novel for girls, or a PBS period drama. At the same time, Jessica is growing up when her parents strongly believe in the old-fashioned perspectives of the English ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Josie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Josie by: katie
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 22, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a mad fan of all things Mitford. This was very different from other books I have read both about them and by them. Jessica seems to rail against her childhood from the start, having a difficult relationship with her father and some of her sisters. Did she lack the irony to understand Nancy? Anyway, she develops into a very unexpected Communist who is in thrall to her daredevil relation, Esmond Romilly. Soon she is running away, right into the centre of the Spanish Civil War, later into Amer ...more
Hmm, well, I loved hearing about all the Mitfords Junior. Decca's unreconstructed if very loyal view of Esmond Romilly not so much. They were not such a likeable couple in the American years. Anyway, throughout, Mitford is maybe not quite self-aware enough to make this book really draw you in. But hey it's a memoir, that can happen. Some other reviewer says she lacked insight and I'm inclined to agree somewhat, though to have come as far as she did in the direction she did from the background th ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book. Poignant, insightful, interesting - and left me wanting to find out more about Jessica Mitford. I have purchased Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford to read soon. I wish I had more time to write about this book - I may come back and edit this review to make it more fulsome. However, for now, if you have an interest in this era then this is an excellent memoir and well worth reading.
Amy Jones
I found the first third really hard going, but as soon as Diana and Boud started going to Germany I was hooked. Grown-up Decca was a lot more interesting than child Decca!
Madeeha Maqbool
Feb 26, 2016 Madeeha Maqbool rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who doesn't want more Mitford! I just wish I'd read this before Mary Lovell's biography, but Decca is far more droll so I don't mind some overlap of anecdotes. This one is hilarious.
Czarny Pies
Nov 19, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Des fans du clan Mitford.
Recommended to Czarny by: J.K. Rowling, bruyamment
Shelves: english-lit
Jessica Mitford est la soeur cadette de Nancy Mitford. L'opinion qui prevaut est que Nancy a été la plus talentueuse des deux mais il y a des gens qui aime mieux Jessica. On admire Jessica pour sa force de ses convictions et son lutte sans relache pour la justice sociale.

Adolescente elle est devenue member partie de la communiste et a épousé un homme malgré la forte opposition de ses parents ce qui lui a force d'émigrer aux Etats Unis ou elle était tres engage dans la lutte pour les droits des
Sarah Beth
Sep 16, 2014 Sarah Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jessica "Decca" Mitford is first and foremost famous for being one of the famous Mitford sisters and only later for her great muckraking journalism in the United States. Therefore it's ironic that in her autobiography, she describes in detail how stifling she found her infamous family and her great escape and elopement.

Decca comes across as completely unsentimental in her writing. Despite being part of a large family and being raised with only her siblings for companions, her sole preoccupation
Jan 16, 2015 Marí rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Libro 11. A memoir. Ojalá hubiera seguido y seguido.
3.5 stars. Unevenly witty, eccentric, and sometimes fantastic autobiography. Still, there is much food for thought in Jessica Mitford's experiences and choices during the tumultuous pre-WWII years, her perspective on her aristocratic family's infamous split down the middle between Nazi and Communist lines, and an oft-demonstrated brutal honesty about the limits of her teenage outlook. Her youthful rebellions would seem admirable related in factual terms alone (running away from her debutante lif ...more
Susan Chapek
Jul 24, 2015 Susan Chapek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-or-bio
This memoir of Mitford's life from birth to the beginning of World War II (there's a second volume, A Fine Old Conflictwhich I'm in the middle of now) reads like a historical coming-of-age, but light and witty and full of madly funny and engaging characters. There's plenty of deft social and political commentary, too--but don't let that keep you from trying this delightful book.

The only other autobiography I've enjoyed as much is that of Dodie Smith, who was pretty much a contemporary of Jessica
Denise Ferrary-Olson
This was fun to read, but Nancy remains my favorite writer of the bunch. Always interesting to see how many inspired bits in a fictional book end up being real behavior from real people, carefully observed.
Lady R.E. Miller
Dec 02, 2008 Lady R.E. Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: made-me-cry
This is one of those books you read that make you think you need to start doing more interesting stuff with your life. And also not give a damn about what thinks about it . . . Inspiring stuff (and funny.)
Patty Simpson
Jan 23, 2016 Patty Simpson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would get 4.5 stars if that were possible. Very enjoyable, at least from the perspective of someone who's read several books by and about the Mitford family.

The family members who were so horrified when it came out really don't seem justified - she didn't say anything horrible about any of them, making them seem quirky and odd rather than awful. She even held back from really attacking the sister she so disliked, Diana. Showed quite a bit of self-awareness in acknowledging that although she t
Dec 07, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
It was that good, I would like a copy in every room of my house.

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NYRB Classics: Hons and Rebels, by Jessica Mitford 1 6 Oct 23, 2013 01:24PM  
  • The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
  • Love from Nancy
  • Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel
  • Wait for Me!
  • Nancy Mitford
  • Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
  • The House of Mitford
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • A Life of Contrasts: An Autobiography
  • Nancy Mitford: A Biography
  • Two Under the Indian Sun
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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“I discovered that Human Nature was not, as I had always supposed, a fixed and unalterable entity, that wars are not caused by a natural urge in men to fight, that ownership of land and factories is not necessarily the natural reward of greater wisdom and energy.” 1 likes
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