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Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie

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3.46  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie are two comic novels from early in the career of Nancy Mitford, author of The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, here published in one volume with a new introduction by Jane Smiley.

In Christmas Pudding, an array of colorful characters converge on the hunt-obsessed Lady Bobbin’s country house, including her rebellious daughter Phil
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Vintage Books (first published January 1st 1976)
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Ann-Marie
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglophilia
Nancy Mitford's wit and biting sense of humor comes through loud and clear in these two novels, both early works of hers, written in the beginning days of World War II.
She charmingly skewers the habits and manners of the idle upper class, a world she knew intimately, her family wealth was gone and she supported herself with her writing.
These books are just as enjoyable to read today as they would have been 80 years ago.
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Michaela
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Found the first story better than the second (the spy story is funny, but not the fun about the war and Hitler). A bit inconsistently written, but quite some parts to laugh about.
Ange H
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of Nancy Mitford before but grabbed this one from the Kindle Prime reading with the mistaken idea that it was a Christmas story. Not at all, but a really entertaining read - or pair of reads, it was two short novels.

Christmas Pudding was a funny story about a group of eccentric characters celebrating Christmas in the English countryside. Pigeon Pie started off a bit slow but turned into a hilarious tale of spies and espionage in WWII London.

Very unique and witty.
Shawn Thrasher
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was not as keen on these two Mitford novels (published together) as I was about other Mitford fiction I have read. Christmas Pudding was the better of the two, but still felt disjointed and lurched about, as if it could never decide what it wanted to be or where it wanted to go (although its well worth sticking through to the end, which was unexpectedly and wickedly funny). Pigeon Pie I wanted to like far, far more than I ended up doing so. Flat as a pancake, and I was glad when I was finish ...more
QNPoohBear
Dec 17, 2016 rated it liked it
See review for Christmas Pudding

Pigeon Pie takes place during the early days of World War I. The main character, Lady Sophia Garfield, a Bright Young Thing, has been disillusioned in life. She's fallen out of love with her husband and he only sees her as a trophy wife to show off to his business colleagues. To make matters worse, he's fallen in with some weird religious cult from Boston and installed them in their home. Her lover has no thoughts of marriage, but that's fine because Sophia can't
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Maire
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
What a strange book! It was funny but so very odd. Unlike many of reviewers, I think that I actually liked Pigeon Pie a bit more than the other. (I think it was the slight "mystery" element that made me more interested in that one.)

Both of these short novels contain a cast of characters that are instantly unlikeable: upper-class egoists who are unintentionally hilarious.

This is definitely British humor, so I wouldn't recommend this to people who don't tend to like that kind of thing.

The setup o
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David
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very charming novel, but then, I knew it would be: All of Nancy Mitford's novels are delightful. Christmas Pudding was the last of those I'd not read, so now I have read them all. The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are her two masterpieces, and I have read them many times, and yet still enjoy them every time. In the unlikely event that the pleasure of them ever dims, I'll reread the others, and her non-fiction books, too -- I think I would enjoy re-reading the biographies nearly as ...more
Regan
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I would like to give this book 3 stars, but I don't think "Christmas Pudding" is as enjoyable as "Pigeon Pie."

The main problem I had with "Christmas Pudding" is there were no likeable characters to be found anywhere in the story, And given how relatively short the story is - approximately 200 pages, I thought there were too many characters in the story.

I enjoyed "Pigeon Pie" much more. I think its "English humor" translated well to an American audience. I thought Sophia and the King of Song wer
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Pamela Mclaren
Both of these stories, while clever, seem a little too silly to me, which is weird because I love reading P.G. Wodehouse and these are very much in the same vein. Perhaps its a little bit too inside baseball for me to truly sit back and enjoy.

Both short comedies were written by Mitford early in her career. The first, the Christmas Pudding, is centered in a country estate of Lady Bobbin. Among the inmates is her daughter, Philadelphia, and two suitors, one of which is a work phobic writer whose f
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Nancy McKibben
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie
By Nancy Mitford

Christmas Pudding, set in England in the l930s, is Mitford’s second novel, and the premise is amusing: protagonist Paul Fotheringay is in despair because his newly-published novel, into which he has “poured all the bitterness of a bitter soul” and whose ending is “unbearably tragic” has been hailed by one and all as a stunning success - as a comic novel.

Paul is struggling to regain a more scholarly reputation, and he lights on the idea of writing t
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Carin
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book contains two funny British novellas from one of the Mitford sisters, who I should have read long ago. The first story, Christmas Pudding, is about Paul, a writer who wants to be taken seriously (his first novel was a wildly hilarious success except... he didn't mean for it to be funny) and who wants to write a biography of a female poet. In order to gain access to her journals, he agrees to sign up to be the holiday tutor to a Eton boy (under the agreement he will spend all his time wi ...more
Allison
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really liked Christmas Pudding (Pigeon Pie a little less so). Nancy Mitford is hilarious. It was easy to picture these two as 1930s/40s slap stick movies starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. Delicious banter and silly but biting and witty dialogue all throughout. I want to LIVE in these books--such a fun romp!
Bryan
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nancy is everything. I loved Philadelphia Bobbin in Christmas Pudding but I adored Sophia in Pigeon Pie with all my heart. Never mess with a woman's beloved bulldog. ...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Mitford March Mach Deux (March 2014)

Christmas Pudding
Date I read this book: December 19th, 2013
★★★

Paul Fotheringay is gutted. His first book Crazy Capers is an unrivaled success. Most authors would be pleased with this development, but not Paul. He poured his heart and soul into his book that he hoped would be heralded as a literary masterpiece only to have everyone think it is a comedy. Not just that, but the funniest book
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We Are All Mad Here
Have now sadly finished reading the entirety of Nancy Mitford's fiction.

I preferred Pigeon Pie (originally published 1940) to Christmas Pudding (1932), primarily due to writing like this:

"Darling, I couldn't be a nurse. Florence has a first aid book and I looked inside it and saw a picture of a knee. I nearly fainted. I can't bear knees, I've got a thing about them."

And this:

"'The Press, m'lady,' he said with relish. 'Awful they've been. Nosing round everywhere and taking photos. And the lies t
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Christina
Droll commentary on cynical, flighty, easily bored Bright Young Things visiting country manors in the Christmas season, enduring tribulations like unrequited love, mismatched dalliances, drunken adventures on point-to-point races, hoof-and-mouth disease, newborns, and inept bridge partners.
Jossalyn
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
2 short novels by a FAV author. her wit, style of writing, familiar turns of phrase, all present. didn't find the storylines as compelling as those from Love in a cold climate and The Pursuit of Love- but those sparkling gems are hard to surpass. ...more
Kathleen
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't know why I was so bogged down in this book for so long. ...more
Bronwyn
This book is why I don't like rating books of multiple stories. I really enjoyed Christmas Pudding, but really didn't care for Pigeon Pie. I see this was roughly the case for the other reviewer too.

Christmas Pudding reminded me of Vile Bodies or Decline and Fall where everything is so ridiculous and twisty but fun. The whole premise of the tutor who's not really a tutor, and the serious book that wasn't taken seriously were just too funny and worked out about how you expected. Add in people who
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Rebecca
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Christmas Pudding seems to have all the necessary ingredients for a fun read: a motley collection of characters gathered together, as they would be for a cozy mystery. Moreover, it had the advantage of sharp observations and biting comments that made me laugh out loud, however, the rest of the book was a bit lacking. Overall, the majority of the book was a bit pointless. I didn't warm to or ever feel that I really knew any of the characters, and the various dilemmas (of which there are very few) ...more
Jane
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-popfic, humor
I'm mystified that it took me so long to come around to Nancy Mitford - she is, after all, pretty much everything I like. These read like a mix of PG Wodehouse, her friend Evelyn Waugh, and a mildly raunchier humor that might have shown up in Playboy thirty years later. I was periodically torn between thinking it was all very sophisticated and then slapsticky. To wit:

Sophia poured out tea, and asked after his Lesbian irises.
'They were not what they seemed,' he said, 'wretched things. I brought t
...more
Laurel
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Christmas Pudding was a fun read. A bit of the Shakespearian comedy about it. People pretending to be who they are not getting caught in their own ruse. Social satire and ludicrous happenstance. Without the turn I phrase. Made me chuckle. Couldn't bring myself to read Pigeon Pie though. Started it and had the feeling it was more of the same. Not a lot of investment in the characters. Maybe later. ...more
Maura
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mitford's tales are always fun to read, light, frothy things full of silliness. But they are a bit dated in their references at time, and I'm sure there are plenty of inside jokes lost on those of us from a different time and society. These two stories are similar to a Wooster and Jeeves story, with misread motives, missed meetings, and somewhat madcap behavior. Pigeon Pie is the funniest WWII spy story I've ever come across. ...more
Melanie Moore
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is actually two books in one. I really enjoyed Christmas Pudding. It was published in 1932. The second book, Pigeon Pie, was published in 1940. It was interesting to read the perspective of a book about World War II being written in England in 1940. The problem was it dragged a bit and the characters were not as likable as Christmas Pudding.
Kimberley
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
A third-rate Mitford, unfortunately. A trifle of a novella without much in the way of plot or hilarity. I didn't even attempt to read "Pigeon Pie" as it's apparently not even as good as "Christmas Pudding". ...more
Jennifer
Dec 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford are two comedies written and set in the 1930's. Christmas Pudding reminds me of a screwball comedy set in a country house filled with colorful characters. Pigeon Pie was not quite as fun as Christmas Pudding, but still a fun read. ...more
David Smith
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Got to throw Nancy Mitford into the mix now and then just to remember that it's possible to write for fun. ...more
Viki
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nancy Mitford is that gem who's capable of remarking on people's inescapable foibles and deficiencies without truly making them feel deficient. We need more people like her in our lives..

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Isabel
Jan 08, 2014 marked it as to-read
recommended by posey gets cozy
Cindy Merchant
Feb 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Both were enjoyable but slow starters.
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Reading Works By ...: Nancy Mitford 2 6 Dec 08, 2017 07:09PM  

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Nancy Mitford, 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 was brought up at Asthall Manor in Oxfordshire. She was t ...more

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“Sophia poured out tea, and asked after his Lesbian irises. ‘They were not what they seemed,’ he said, ‘wretched things. I brought the roots all the way from Lesbos, as you know, and when they came up, what were they? Mere pansies. Too mortifying.” 0 likes
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