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Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford
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Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  17 reviews
This biography draws on Nancy Mitford's highly autobiographical early novels, the biographies and novels of her more mature French period, her journalism, and the vast body of letters to her sisters, lovers, and friends such as Evelyn Waugh and Cyril Connolly. Laura Thompson has put together a portrait of a courageous and contradictory woman—a woman who expressed anti-femi ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Headline Book Publishing (first published March 3rd 2003)
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3.52  · 
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 ·  96 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Jennifer Martin
Feb 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish, 2015
Wanted to like this book. Read to get background before reading book of letters between sisters.
Subject (Nancy Mitford) is fascinating, but book is not.
Insights seem to be based on readings of her novels. This is legitimate approach but rings hollow somehow.
Also, although I would find moralizing uninteresting, at least in the 80-100 pages I read, the subject of Unity's and Diana's fascism is handled oddly. Diana agreed to be interviewed for book so author clearly tried to tread lightly, but disc
Jan 09, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was a bit of a chore. I really, really wanted to like Nancy Mitford, and the author obviously does, but I was not convinced. Instead, I came away with a picture of a shallow woman who spent much of her life embroiled in a humiliating affair with a man who obviously did not love her. I found this hard to sympathize with. The saving grace of the book, and the only reason I finished it, is that it is set in the always interesting 1920's-1950's.
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Written in a charming and chatty style not unlike that of Nancy Mitford herself, Life in a Cold Climate analyzes Mitford's life, works, and relationships in an engaging and perceptive way. The book is clearly based on excellent research (including extensive interviews with the two sisters of Nancy still alive when the book was written, Lady Diana Mosley and Deborah Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire) and a deep knowledge of Nancy's writings. It's been long enough since I read Selina Hastings's ...more
C.S. Burrough
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I sought out this biography after reading Laura Thompson's Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters. Thompson's work on the famous Mitfords is engaging, entertaining and informative.

Though Nancy was not initially the most famous Mitford (Unity, Diana Mitford Mosley and Jessica Mitford having already attained notoriety with their subversive political antics and men), it was she who later secured the Mitford family myth with her bestselling novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Cli
Jul 26, 2011 added it
In an enjoyable biography of an interesting woman, Laura Thompson effectively analyses Nancy Mitford's work in the context of her life and loves. Written with honesty and affection, this is a very readable account of a privileged life which doesn't shy away from examining its subject's not so nice moments with an exasperated 'Oh, Nancy...' Somehow managing to be lit crit and deliciously gossipy at the same time, Thompson has written an excellent biography, the writing of which shares its subject ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I could not get through this biography. She relied too heavily on comparing Nancy Mitford to her book characters. I also got the impression she looked on Mitford as a guilty pleasure and needed to justify liking her at all.
Matthew Buckley
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I usually quite like Laura Thompson’s work but I’m afraid this perspective on Nancy Mitford really left me a bit cold. There was an interesting life to be conveyed here, but one enormous Achille’s heel put me off it. Thompson seemed utterly obsessed with linking back to Nancy’s characters in The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. Of course it is imperative that the reader knows that her two most important books are Roman a Clefs ‘through a looking glass’, and her characters are often th ...more
Claire Bull
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Sorry to say I could only endure the book to the halfway point. It was a library book and expired. Rather endless documentary biography that I wanted to enjoy but didn’t happen for me
The author really liked Nancy and it showed. She did not whitewash the woman but also didn't focus on the negatives. Very enjoyable.
Dec 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: glams, bitches, Us not non-Us
A "cold blooded reptile in Dior" who blamed her infertility on a syphilitic nurse, who referred to the Windsors as miserable and common, whose sister Unity had a close relationship with Hitler and lodged a bullet in her brain after the outbreak of war, whose sister Jessica was a communist, whose sister Diana was Moseley's missus, who informed on Diana and was partly responsible for her imprisonment during the war and had it off in France with De Gaulle's right-hand man. What a bleedin life.
Erica Chambers
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is a fine line between appreciating a person and wanting to emulate that person.... I look at the Nancy Mitford Societies online - and their meetings that promise to be "too, too pleasure-making" and I can totally understand why Nancy Mitford is dismissed as an out of date snob by todays society.
This book is written with none of that language - but still manages to recreate the essence of the U world in the 20th Century.
I enjoyed it very much.
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
This biography of Nancy Mitford has a lot of unapologetic speculation--it's interesting, but very opinionated. Many sentences start with some variation of, "Perhaps this is why . . .", and then the author is off, confidently hypothesizing. Reading it has the feel of listening to a smart, lively friend who, though sometimes long winded, is often fascinating, but whose viewpoint you don't entirely trust.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the first biography of Nancy that I've read and on the whole I enjoyed it very much. Nancy Mitford was obviously a much more complex character than many modern accounts paint her and this book certainly demonstrates this. I did think that on occasion it paid a bit too much attention to what Nancy *might* have felt or *might* have thought, but in general it was an interesting read.
Nov 06, 2010 added it
I have read most of what there is to read by and about the Mitfords and I thought this book was an absolute tour de force. It is beautifully written, funny, compassionate and moving. I read it twice in the space of three months. My edition does not have the subtitle "A Portrait of a Contradictory Woman" which is too graceless to be the work of the author and could do with being removed.

Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it
OK - too much about the the characters in her book, not enough about the woman herself for me.
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It may not be the best biography (there is a little too much of Laura herself peeking through the lines), but it gives an essential look into Mitford. And the actual writing is very good.
Gareth Evans
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Sep 16, 2010
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Feb 01, 2013
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Apr 04, 2016
Louise Culmer
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Dec 29, 2014
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Sep 06, 2007
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Dec 27, 2012
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Nov 09, 2016
Samantha Garner
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Kate Whittingham-Jones
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Sep 05, 2007
Rachel Cooper
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Jul 17, 2009
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Apr 23, 2019
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