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The House of Mitford

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The classic story of one of the twentieth century's most extraordinary families.

Among the six daughters and one son born to David, second Lord Redesdale, and his wife Sydney were Nancy, the novelist and historian; Diana, who married fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, friend of Hitler; Jessica, who became a communist and then an investigative journalist; and Deborah,
Paperback, 624 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Phoenix (first published July 24th 1985)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  288 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Jul 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Since reading Nancy Mitford's "The Pursuit of Love" and Decca Mitford's "Hons and Rebels", I've been fascinated with Mitford sisters. Born into a family of old-fashioned, deeply traditional British landed gentry amidst the upheavals of the 20th century, the sisters developed along wildly different paths. Nancy became a pleasure-loving, bohemian "Bright Young Thing" and eventually an author; Decca became a Communist, running off to help the Spanish Republic and eventually working as leftist journ ...more
Barbara Mader
May 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mitfords
I willed myself on through this book, reading closely for bits I didn't know, but it was uphill work. The writing was terrible: horrible style, lack of organization, lousy paragraph structure, pathetic transitions, repeated cliches, clumsy phrasing, etc., etc. The heavy-handed attempts to put Diana in a good light also grated after a while. Lovell's book is much better. Despite my interest in the subject, I barely got through this.

Must add that the Guinnesses (those who wrote this) don't sound v
C.S. Burrough
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After this sitting considerably far down my Mitford history reading list, I was taken by its erudition. My expectations were cynical, knowing it was penned by family insiders: author Jonathon Guinness, 3rd Baron Moyne, is the eldest son of Diana Mitford Mosley by her first husband Bryan Guinness; his co-author is his daughter the Hon. Catherine Guinness. My tainted expectations could not have been wider off the mark.

Not only is there a marked absence of family bias, but the wordsmithing outshine
Dec 25, 2007 rated it liked it
I'm a bit obsessed with the Mitfords but this book was boring. It suffers from the fact that the author is a nephew of the sisters but he is also not a very good writer. ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
About 1/2 way through and starting to skip around a's a big book and I'm finding some of the sisters more interesting than others, but overall what a fascinating family. ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Since reading Mary Lovell’s book on the Mitford sisters, I have been intrigued by the family.
This book gave an in-depth exploration but was tediously detailed. I ended up reading other books around this as I found it a slog to get through. As I suggest, it is informative just not particularly engaging or entertaining.
Emily Ross
I was drawn to the Mitfords through reading Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford, and this book does give a lot of detail. It's just that it is rather difficult to read, a bit of a slog, and it isn't well organised. ...more
Mar 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
May try this one again...had to skip some sections and try to get to others, hoping it would get better as I went along. It didn't. Very cumbersome and makes an exciting family almost boring because of the deep dive into the most mundane details. ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap
Whitewashing the dark bits.
Joan Dunbar
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting read.
Seren Senior
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Verging on panegyric with some unapologetically colonialist passages, I found this an incredibly uncomfortable read.
Mar 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
2nd time.
First read 2004
Rebecca Wilkins
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This book by Diana's son Jonathan is much less objective than Mary Lovell's The Sisters, The Saga of the Mitford Family that I read in the past. He obviously favors his mother. The other Mitford books I have are Wait For Me by Debo, the Duchess of Devonshire and The Letters of Nancy Mitford, this latter I abandoned after a few chapters. I am not quite sure how I got on this kick. I was probably wondering how these sisters could get so crazy over politics. Diana, the Fascist, Decca, the Communist ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a shameless Mitford fan, naturally I enjoyed this book. Written by the son and granddaughter of Diana Mitford Mosely, it is naturally a defense of the House of Mitford, and for the most part comes across as a reasonable one. The portraits painted of the family are more intimate than those in other books. It gets beyond the caricatures and describes actual three-dimensional people, family dynamics and the historical context that explains much which might otherwise seem inexplicable I especiall ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Downton Abbey on Acid: Non-Fiction history of impoversihed British aritocratic family well known for being super wacky, eccentrics. This book follows their lineage to see how the family turned out so wack.

The most famous/infamous generation of the Mitford family is that of WWII era. Of the Mitford daughters 2 were buddies w/Hitler and hard-core Nazis, 1 a Communist, 1 a popular writer, 1 a sheep farmer and 1 a Duchess.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Written shortly after the death of Mosley, it is in part an exploration of (if not an apologia for) Diana's involvement in his movement, written very skilfully by her descendants. But it has many worthwhile aspects, including the information on the Mitford grandfathers, Bertie Redesdale and Tommy (or Tap) Bowles. I would love it if Sadie's unpublished manuscript, referred to in the book, were available for readers. ...more
Kay Robart
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
The book successfully shows that despite all the family disagreements and bickering, underlying it all was strong family affection and unity. The book didn’t do much, however, to answer my initial questions about how an admittedly eccentric but not very political upbringing could produce such extremes of personalities and beliefs in a single generation.

See my complete review here:
Lyn Elliott
The early parts of the book on the Various Mitford ancestors interested me most but I bogged down as we neared the twentieth century and just didn't get beyond Sydney and David's wedding.
May be I will come back to it, but there is so much on my 'want to read list' that I will turn my attention there rather than persist.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! It was a well-researched and thorough recounting of a most fascinating family. However, since Jonathan is Diana's son, I wish he 1) would have offered more personal insights and 2) wouldn't have referred to himself in the third person. These are minor complaints, though, and the book was well written and intriguing. ...more
Nov 20, 2007 rated it liked it
I skimmed passages of this book which seems so outdated in light of other books I have read. The prose is unnecessarily thick and pedantic. Not a good casual read. I'm pulling out of this one and starting to read the Mitford Letters book. ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography, i-own
A must for anyone who is in love with the Mitford family. It provides a detailed history of the entire family and it serves as a great reference book in later years as you forget some of the details of the family.
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This a good read, far more informative than Lovells, but that could be its down fall. It's very detailed and takes a while to get to the point. If you are a Mitford buff, it's definitely worth reading. ...more
Mark Miley
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
really enjoyed this book about such a fascinating family
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I struggled to finish this and only did so because the Mitford's are so interesting. The writing was laboured and sycophantic. I would have enjoyed it more if the writer had been less partisan ...more
Nov 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: shelved-forever
Awfully boring book for such interesting subjects. Yawn.
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
More Mitfords. More details. More Madness.
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Bonnie Baxter
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting read but not overly exciting. Took awhile to read because of that.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall an interesting read about the family. You can tell that Jonathan favors his parents and spends more time than not defending Diana. But, overall, the book gives great insight to the family, especially to the grandfathers.
The Lotus Eater
Dec 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Diana Mosley was a Nazi. We're all very clear on that. Jonathan Guinness is her son. He tries to make it seem like her beliefs and actions are less dangerous than they were. She's a Nazi. There's no band aid to cover that big a flaw in a person. Too bad he tries to drag his more liberal aunts in an attempt to salvage his Nazi mom's Nazi legacy. ...more
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