Margaret's Reviews > The Blessing

The Blessing by Nancy Mitford
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Oct 12, 10

bookshelves: british-literature, favorites, mitfords, authors-mn
Read from October 08 to 09, 2010

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 is an English beauty; when she meets Charles-Edouard de Valhubert, a French marquis, at the outbreak of World War II, they fall in love and are soon married. While Charles-Edouard is at war, their son, Sigismond, is born in England, and when the war is over, Charles-Edouard returns and whisks Grace and Sigi (and Sigi's terrifying Nanny) off to France, where Grace is in for an enormous culture shock when she finds out about Charles-Edouard's many love affairs. Mitford takes a satirical view of English and French society after WWII, with a few pokes at Americans along the way. The plot is cleverly constructed, and as always, the narrative and dialogue are deliciously witty.

If you read The Blessing and like it (and if you long to know what became of Grace, Charles-Edouard, and Sigi), you should also read The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate, and Don't Tell Alfred, which are essentially part of the same series as The Blessing and feature many of the same characters throughout. The Pursuit of Love was Mitford's fifth novel and the one that catapulted her to fame as a writer; it tells the story of the Radlett family (a thinly veiled, though exaggerated, portrait of Nancy's own family) and Linda Radlett's search for romantic love and is narrated by Fanny, a cousin of the Radletts, who is also the narrator of Love in a Cold Climate and Don't Tell Alfred.
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