Sarah's Reviews > Hons and Rebels

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford
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Aug 05, 09

bookshelves: british, classics, memoirs
Read in August, 2009

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 America on next to no money, romantic slumming around the USA...you really could not make a lot of this stuff up. This is a very romantic book; the relationship between Esmund and her, especially their time on the road in America, is so sweetly portrayed. I really enjoyed seeing pre-war America through their eyes. Also, there is some lovely writing about the importance that books can have on the interior life of bookish children that had me nodding my head in agreement.

The book was a ripping story, delightfully told. The only thing I wished was different about it was how oddly light on information it was about some rather important details. The name of the infant daughter who died is never given, for instance; her beloved husband's death in the war is revealed offhand in a footnote; we never find out what happened to Unity, her favorite sister, the fascist and close friend of Hitler, after just surviving her suicide attempt at the outbreak of war between Germany and England. Thank goodness for Wikipedia.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Maja I think that was isn't told is what hurt Decca most. I think that has a powerful -- and really sad -- effect on her memoir.

Just for people that haven't read the Wikipedia article -- the daughter was called Julia and Unity lived at home, disabled, for several years before she died.


Sarah Yeah, I think you may be right that playing very understated with the heartbreaking and emotional made for a more devestating impact. Something about this tactic felt very appropriately British, stiff-upper-lip to me too--not the gut-spilling American-style confessional. It did make me wildly curious, however : )


Bill great review, Sarah. I just finished this and really loved it too!


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