Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Blessing” as Want to Read:
The Blessing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Blessing

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,328 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
With characteristically amusing malice, Mitford blends a comedy of manners with culture shock as Grace Allingham, a naive English rose, impulsively marries Charles-Edouard de Valhubert, a French nobleman with all his class's charm and decadence. Both are duped, however, by their son Sigismund -- the Blessing of the title -- a juvenile Machiavelli who mixes Gallic cunning w ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published July 1st 1998 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1951)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Blessing, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Blessing

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕
I'm on Team Sigi.

& that's really all I want to say about this wonderful novel. If this is Mitford's weakest work of fiction, her other titles must be amazing! Enjoy this book for it's wit & charm. Don't read any reviews (other than this one!) & don't read the blurbs. My copy did have very minor spoilers & I would have preferred to approach without any preconceptions!
Sketchbook
Jul 24, 2016 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Marquis de Valhubert "cannot see a pretty woman without immediately wanting to sleep with her." This polished dilettante has a pleasing English wife who sees the French through rose-colored glasses; their snobbishness seems like a tremendous joke. When mischievous son, little Sigi, contrives to keep his parents apart, Mitford erupts with her funniest observations about sex and other social distractions among the French, Brits and Americans.

Gossip among the Paris set : "They left the luncheon
...more
Beth Bonini
Dec 01, 2016 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it
There is nothing like a Nancy Mitford novel for a combination of wit, charm and elegant writing. The Blessing was new to me, and although it doesn't surpassThe Pursuit of Love in my affections, it is a comedy of manners with some truly memorable characters - the cunning Sigi and the redoubtable Nanny being my favourites. Set mostly in post-war France - Paris and Provence - the contrast between French manners and mores and English ones provides much of the humour (and plot) in the book. Mitford s ...more
Luís C.
The subplot of The Blessing revolves, once again, around enthusiastic Americans — in this case Hector Dexter, who is representing the Marshall Plan in Europe and has failed, so far, to gain entrance to any of the more exclusive social sets.
As Grace explains, "They go back to the middle of America and tell the people there, who hate foreigners anyway, that the French are undependable, and so nasty that it would be better to cut the Aid and concentrate on Italy, where they are undependable, too,
...more
Margaret
Nancy Mitford was the eldest of the famous Mitford sisters; while her sisters Diana, Unity, and Jessica are famous (or infamous) for their politics (Jessica was a Communist, while the other two were Nazi sympathizers and friends of Hitler), Nancy was celebrated as a leading member of the Bright Young Things and a brilliant writer. She wrote eight novels, several biographies, and various essays, all of which are a joy to read, but The Blessing is perhaps my favorite of her books.

Grace Allingham i
...more
KOMET
Grace Allingham, a young and unassuming Englishwoman from an affluent background, makes the acquaintance of Charles-Edouard de Valhubert, a French Air Force officer, during the early years of the Second World War. Charming, suave, and utterly self-assured, he sweeps Grace off her feet, they quickly marry and have a short honeymoon. Then Charles-Edouard goes back to the war. Grace leaves London and settles in the countryside. She finds herself with child and later gives birth to a boy, who is nam ...more
Cari
Aug 19, 2010 Cari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On one level, this is a frivolous, entertaining story about a couple, their marital difficulties, and the little heathen they call their son (the "blessing" of the title). On a deeper level, Mitford skillfully tells of culture clash, love, and family dysfunction, using her own situation (and clear-eyed self awareness) to poignant effect. The humor is more subtle than that of Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, some has faded due to time, but The Blessing is still laugh out loud funny in ...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Mitford March Mach Deux (March 2014)

Grace Allingham is engaged to a nice English boy. He didn't push for the marriage to happen before the war and therefore when Charles-Edouard de Valhubert comes into her life and sweeps her off her feet, it's really Hughie's own fault for not locking that down. Charles-Edouard is French and exciting. He loves art and beauty and Grace. Grace, like her father, is taken by all things French
...more
Melanie
Mar 01, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a sense of humor
Witty and wicked and just a tad dated (in the sense of some extreme political incorrectness), The Blessing is Mitford's take on the cultural chasm between France and England after WWII. English flower Grace marries Charles-Edouard, French aristocrat, and raises their son Sigi alone in the English countryside until he comes home after the war in seven years. They move to France, along with Sigi's unhappy Nanny, whose first experience with French cuisine leaves her horrified - "Funny-looking bread ...more
J.

She knew, or thought she knew, that Frenchwomen were hideously ugly, but with an ugliness redeemed by great vivacity and perfect taste in dress... So all in all she was unprepared for the scene that met her eyes on entering...

This is Mitford's unapologetic memoir of her own romance with a charming but decidedly not monogamist Frenchman, and really, with the idea of France itself. What works here is the casual seduction of a really independent Englishwoman by the whole of French culture; maybe so
...more
Leah
Feb 29, 2016 Leah rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance, 2016
Hmm...

As WW2 is beginning, Grace receives a visit from Charles-Edouard, an aristocratic French friend of her fiancé, Hugh. Within a month, poor Hugh has been dumped, Charles-Edouard and Grace have married and C-E has gone off to war. Finding herself pregnant, Grace goes off to live in her father’s country house, and waits seven long years for C-E to return. When he does, he promptly whisks Grace and the child, Sigi, off to France, where he divides his time between his wife and his mistresses. Ev
...more
Nancy
Jan 05, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Amusing , Entertaining and thoroughly engaging despite the very, very silly characters. Mitford's characters flow in and out of her various novels and a minor character in a book I just completed (Don't Tell Alfred) is the principal character in this book. I enjoy that aspect of her writing---the feeling that you have arrived in a strange place and just happened upon someone you know --- so her books have an automatic appeal to me.

This story centers on the cultural clashes resulting from the mar
...more
Doug
Feb 05, 2011 Doug rated it liked it
The Blessing is not as tart as most of Evelyn Waugh's work, or as light as P.G. Wodehouse's, but it has the flavor of both. It's witty and worldly without being coarse. Nancy Mitford plays on many of the familiar themes of the time (1951), including Communism, the HUAC, pre-EU stereotypes about England and France and the USA. Apparently it was a Book of the Month Club choice in 1951 (aside: it's startling to think that American popular taste ran then to a novel liberally sprinkled with reference ...more
Josie
Jun 27, 2009 Josie rated it liked it
This is cute. British/French manners. It is definitely Waughian, and funny. That odd post WWII era that doesn't get written about a lot. Grace, the main char., reminds me of Princess Di had she not been a princess-sweet, lovable, horsey British good looks, utter lack of education/country bumpkin, cuckolded.
Heather
Jul 01, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
I'd give this one 4 and a half stars if the option was available. Nancy Mitford had out her sharpest knife for this one. Not only are the English her target, but she carves up the French and Americans with delicious wit and malice. "The Blessing" himself should serve as a contraceptive device, or at least a warning. Very funny and perceptive.
Clare Cannon
Apr 08, 2013 Clare Cannon rated it liked it
Shelves: adults
A comical novel about a naive English woman who marries a charming French man only to find that her new husband is an insatiable flirt whose liaisons with other women are as essential for his livelihood as breathing. According to the French man the two were never validly married, as he is nominally Catholic and they were married in a registry. He intends to wait and see whether they should be married in a Church. Grace, a nominal Protestant, eventually leaves him after finding him in bed with an ...more
Kristy
Feb 16, 2011 Kristy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
Well I hoped I wouldn't be disappointed and I certainly wasn't. In places I was laughing out loud. I love these books that give an insight into the frivolous world of the upper class in the first half of the 20th century. I also love that Nancy Mitford can happily take the mick out of that lifestyle but also take it a step further for a laugh, for example when describing the two mothers of newborn babies who had their children laid out to sleep on a bed full of coats at a party, only to find tha ...more
notyourmonkey
Marvelous for Mitford's exquisite devotion to France and French society, but the characters begin to grate, ever so slightly. Whereas her frivolous society girls in The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate come across as charming despite their ridiculousness, I spent most of this novel wanting to shake everyone, but especially Grace and Charles-Edouard. Let us not even speak of their offspring, the precocious plot moppet extraordinaire Sigi, though it is fair to say that Mitford gave him a ...more
Burgundy Rose
Oct 24, 2011 Burgundy Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It does feel good to read another Nancy Mitford. Her style is easily spotted in a crowd, I find. Her wit is sharp, to the point, her characters unforgettable and The Blessing is no exception. Such eccentricity in one book, it's amazing how she does it without making it too cliché. I found the essentialist statements to be well below her usual standards (the constant French/English comparisons are frankly strange though it has a context at least) but on the other hand in one scene one of her best ...more
Margaret Pitcher
I absolutely loved this. The writing flows from page to brain seamlessly. The story is bright and funny. There is some history there too, of which I was unaware, the continued influence of the Catholic Church in post war France, fear of Freemasons??, how the conservative upper class cling on to the old ways which seems to illuminate aspects of more recent French history. PS Grace is not a modern woman!
Laura
Apr 20, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
“Grace thought to herself how different all this was going to look in a few weeks, when it had become familiar. Houses are entirely different when you know them well, she thought, and on first acquaintance even more different from their real selves, more deceptive about their real character than human beings. As with human beings, you can have an impression, that is all. Her impression of Bellandargues was entirely favourable, one of hot, sleepy, beautiful magnitude. She longed to be on everyday ...more
Judy
Englishwoman Grace Allingham impulsively marries a French nobleman, Charles-Edouard de Valhubert during WWII and has his child while he is off serving in the French Air Force. Their son, Sigismund (Sigi) doesn’t meet his father until he is almost 7 years old. Once they are settled in France, Sigi hears about friends whose parents are divorced who are reaping the benefits of two competing parents plus step-parents, so when Grace leaves Charles-Edouard after discovering his afternoon meetings were ...more
Karyn
Jan 23, 2011 Karyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came away from this novel wondering about Nancy Mitford's attitude towards children. The title is ironic, the child it refers to is anything but a blessing. His name is Sigismond and he is manipulative and scheming, and focused entirely on what he perceives to be in his own interest. His affection for others, including his parents, is entirely based on what they are willing to lavish on him. He is revealed as a child who will betray anyone to get what he wants, and he appears to have no redeem ...more
Cindywho
Jun 24, 2010 Cindywho rated it liked it
I picked this one from a metafilter list of happy books. It was a nice bit of dated fluff about wealthy folk in France and England just after WWII. Grace had impetuously married a charming Frenchman just before the war and 7 years later finally moves in with him and their son. All are wondering how she will react to his womanizing ways. I was surprised at the frank discussions about adultery and homosexuality that popped up here and there in mostly non-judgmental terms (oh so decadent!). Sometim ...more
Ali
Apr 29, 2010 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Sigi I think we have one of the funniest and most irritating child characters ever. The Blessing is not in my opinion as brilliant as: In the Pursuit of Love, and Love in a cold Climate, but it is certainly hugely entertaining, written with Nancy Mitfords characteristic sharp wit. There are a good deal of English/French jokes, and a good deal of gossipy snobbishness which is really quite delightful, and very Mitford. Nancy Mitfords observations of various sections of English and French societ ...more
Erin
Aug 28, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a lark for vacation reading and found it absolutely charming. Nancy Mitford is supposed to have a razor social wit, but because I think there might be a lot of young Nancy Mitford in lovely, innocent and thoughtless young Grace Allingham her satire is softened to a wry smile. Grace marries the dashing and very French Charles-Edouard, also on a lark, and finds herself utterly unprepared for the ways and means of a French marriage. How she comes to terms with it without losing ...more
Sienna
Nov 24, 2011 Sienna rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Mitford's got me thinking a great deal about the influence of societal expectations on relationships, satisfaction and boundaries. This is filled with heartbreaking ambiguity, people simply behaving as they are, or must, and not a little hilarity. Albertine's eloquence and Hector Dexter's tirades on...well, everything - except the awesomeness that is the US, naturally - were particular highlights for this expat who, like Grace, loves her adopted country even if it doesn't always feel like home.
Argyl
Jan 14, 2014 Argyl rated it really liked it
A terrific novel about the upper crust of England and France, how they differ and how they are the same, with a plot that revolves around a wealthy young English girl who marries a French philanderer. Mitford writes beautifully and with an absolute minimum of artifice. She also manages to include some uproarious spoofs of American attitudes of the time, including virulent anti-Communism and anti-homosexuality, which, as often as not, are conflated by her characters. Hilarious! A great read.
Kj62
Apr 17, 2016 Kj62 rated it liked it
I have read/re-read all eight of Nancy Mitford's books in chronological order (in the Penguin Kindle complete novels edition, which has a good introduction by India Knight).
It's a good way of seeing how her style and skill developed through a long life of writing. Nancy Mitford is like a 20th Century Jane Austen: a witty observer of her own part of society, who manages to define it for us who read her now.
Ellie
Dec 15, 2008 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in the series, and is set mainly in Paris in the 50's/60's. It is a very entertaining story, and much more silly. Although it still has aspects of autobiography, this is the most fictional of the three, and perhaps more of an observation on other families than her own experience.

Lighter and frothier than Love in A Cold Climate
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford
  • The Red and the Green (Vintage Classics)
  • General Prologue To The Canterbury Tales
  • Nancy Mitford: A Biography
  • In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor
  • Less Than Angels
  • Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
  • In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis
  • Half of the Human Race
  • Someone at a Distance
  • Mapp and Lucia (Lucia, #4)
  • Mrs Rosie and the Priest
  • Harvey Ángel
  • Sarah's Story
  • The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
  • Medea
  • The House of Mitford
  • The Woman Reader
11624
Nancy Mitford, CBE (28 November 1904, London – 30 June 1973, Versailles), styled The Hon. Nancy Mitford before her marriage and The Hon. Mrs Peter Rodd thereafter, was an English novelist and biographer, one of the Bright Young People on the London social scene in the inter-war years. She was born at 1 Graham Street (now Graham Place) in Belgravia, London, the eldest daughter of Lord Redesdale and ...more
More about Nancy Mitford...

Share This Book



No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life.” 7 likes
“Oh my past! It’s such a long time ago now.” 3 likes
More quotes…