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Wigs on the Green

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,309 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Nancy Mitford’s most controversial novel, unavailable for decades, is a hilarious satirical send-up of the political enthusiasms of her notorious sisters, Unity and Diana.

Written in 1934, early in Hitler’s rise, Wigs on the Green lightheartedly skewers the devoted followers of British fascism.

The sheltered and unworldy Eugenia Malmains is one of the richest girls in Engla
Paperback, 177 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1935)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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 ·  1,309 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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Just stop for a moment and imagine Nancy Mitford's life: one of her sisters went off to Spain to fight for the Republicans. One brother died in Burma because he didn't want to fight the Germans. One sister was in love with Hitler, and tried to kill herself when Britain declared war on Germany. Another sister married Oswald Mosley.

It can't have been easy. So Nancy did what she did best: she wrote a book making fun of "jackshirts" - Mosley's blackshirts - where one of the main characters is a youn
Roman Clodia
A farce about fascism? It's easy to see how this is of its time and why Nancy Mitford didn't publish it again. Written in the early '30s, it pokes fun at Eugenia Marchmain, a sheltered heiress who is obsessed with The Union Jackshirts, a transparent riff on Unity Mitford' s crazy obsession with Hitler, and Diana's relationship with Oswald Mosley who headed the British Union of Fascists. What was funny at the start of the 30s as these rich young things self-importantly prance and pontificate, los ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwtwo-or-ww2ish
This send-up of fascism at a time when, little did they know (1934, much like late 2015) funny looking, clown-like people could really take control and ruin millions of lives - written by a member of England’s 0.01% during Hitler’s rise - is brilliant. Nancy (i’m guessing) must have been the “smart” Mitford sister, as this was held out of publication for many years as it was written as a satire of her sisters (Unity and Diana) and their unbridled infatuation with fascism, Hitler, & Il Duce. Migh ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Wigs on the Green,” was published in 1935 and was Nancy Mitford’s third novel. This pre-war novel is a satirical look of the rise of fascism in 1930’s Europe. Of course, Nancy Mitford was well placed to cast her sharp eye on events – her sister Diana was married to Oswald Mosley and her sister Unity, infamously, flirted with fascism. This book was much edited, but still caused a huge family rift and, wisely, Mitford left it out of print after the war – where it remained for over seventy five ye ...more
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
All in all, this was a lightly entertaining story in which 2 friends of the monied class in early 1930s Britain (Noel Foster and Jasper Aspect, a glib character and shameless sponger) conspired to marry 2 wealthy heiresses while taking a break from London one summer.
Mary Durrant
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly delightful!
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Nancy Mitford fans, including me, have been waiting a long time for this novel to be republished. Even used copies of WIGS ON THE GREEN have been hard to find, since after its release in 1935 it has only rarely been back in print. It became controversial because it was written at a time when Hitler was someone to laugh at, at least for Nancy, and it caused uproar in Nancy's family because Diana and Unity, her two passionately fascist-leaning sisters, did not like the way their beloved movement w ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I think this may be the Mitford novel that cured my desire to read any more of her fiction. I really liked The Pursuit of Love, I like Love in a Cold Climate less, I really didn't like Don't Tell Alfred, and I found Wigs on the Green tedious. You would imagine a bunch of toffs exclaiming what a lark this book is. ...more
A farcical time capsule of a book. Very much rooted in its time.
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
This is Mitford’s third novel published in 1935 and pokes fun at her future brother-in-law Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, something that caused a rift between Nancy and her sister Diana although Nancy toned down some sections before publication. The book opens with Noel Foster, a young man working in a stockbroker’s firm, who comes into a small legacy and decides to leave his job and marry an heiress. In this he enlists the help of his old pal Japser Aspect, despite ...more
In the introduction to "Wigs on the Green", Charlotte Mosley writes the reasons for Nancy Mitford's third novel not being reissued until after her death. Nancy largely based the character of Eugenia on her sister Unity and she peppered her story with references of divorce which greatly upset her other sister Diana, who divorced her first husband to become the full time mistress of BUF leader Sir Oswald Mosley.

Despite the objections and injured feelings of her sisters, her novel was still publis
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Well it took me a month to read 170 pages. The part I liked best was the introduction, which gave a brief biography of the author and her family. This was written in 1934 and the author never wanted it to be reprinted because she makes light of people starting to support Hitler's political party. I can understand her misgivings because as good as the writing was, when Hitler was spoken of as a "good fellow" it took me completely out of the story. Would still be interested in other things Mrs. Mi ...more
E Wein: Basically, the thing I like BEST to read is early 20th century chick lit.
Sara: Is that a thing?
E Wein: It wasn’t called chick lit till the 1990s or whatever, but that’s DEFINITELY what this is. It’s like chick lit only it’s better written and the clothes are more stylish.
Sara: That’s what you should read, then.


Quite frankly, I found Pigeon Pie much more disturbing and cringeworthy in its politics than Wigs on the Green, which is just plain silly. Despite Mitford’s
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Depending on your attitude, it’s either wildly inappropriate or absolutely hilarious that I was listening to Nancy Mitford’s Wigs on the Green concurrently with the podcast, My Dad Wrote a Porno. If you’ve experienced both, you’ll appreciate that the frequent mentions of hedge mazes, manicured lawns, horses and duchesses are quite similar in one sense… and also very much not. Anyway, the important thing is that both made me laugh. A lot.

There’s a juicy back-story to Wigs on the Green, notably th
Mar 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
I have enjoyed everything Nancy Mitford has written and I consider her an important writer and a very interesting person who had a fascinating life. This novel is an aberration; it's as bad, and vile, in a clumsy and deceitful manner, as Celine's hateful racist comments are blunt, and exemplify blind stupid rage. Mitford delivers anti-Jewish hatred in the form of a farce: a plodding, badly written, deadly dull, deeply stupid, ignorant, cruel and offensive one. She never renounced the actual raci ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
In the preface, Charlotte Mosley quotes Nancy Mitford's opinion on whether or not Wigs on the Green should be reprinted in the 1950s: "Too much has happened for jokes about Nazis to be regarded as funny...."

Mosley goes on to argue that this is no longer true, and that the historical interest of the book makes it worthwhile. I can't agree. I also can't agree that the book is in any way a "send-up" of fascism or even vaguely anti-fascist. P.G. Wodehouse's Sir Roderick Spode is a send-up of fascism
Jul 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Nancy Mitford's novels, and enjoyed this as a fun summer distraction (when the temperature was 110 in my area!). That said, it was a bit too silly for my taste.

I love Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster;

I enjoy Evelyn Waugh's clever send-ups of British society;

I like wit and sarcasm, BUT this was troweled on a bit too thick for my taste. That doesn't mean I didn't chuckle, but somehow I expected more from Nancy Mitford.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is that one of the
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this novel, but not as much as her later works. However, there were some hysterical witty quips and farcical send-ups that made this a most enjoyable read. I think that, due to it being set in a small country town, there was not the same sense of satirical observations of the upper classes that Mitford is so good at in her later novels. It is also a much smaller book conceptually, because it focuses on small middle-class characters with few eccentricities, and is set in a small town. A ...more
David Haws
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I first encountered the expression “wigs on the green” in a Downton Abbey episode. I loved the expression so much, I googled the etymology (it’s an Irish version of “going to the mattresses”) and the title of this novel popped up. I knew something about the Mitford sisters, but didn’t know the oldest (and apparently the only apolitical) daughter had been a novelist. On closer inspection I realized that I was familiar with one of her post war titles (Love in a Cold Climate) but this one had been ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sharper than a tack--funny too!

I loved this gossipy frolic. My first time with Nancy Mitford left me more than impressed with her ability to shed light onto the hysterical tedium of truly first-world problems.

Can't wait to check out more.
We Are All Mad Here
The most interesting thing about this book is that until you've read it, you might not realize there was a time when Hitler and the rest of the Fascists could be taken as a bit of a joke. ...more
Anna Ciddor
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fun social satire set between the wars, listened on audio
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficção
Terribly funny, more Wodehousean than her later novels. Of course it's awfully black humour now. ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
This ‘satire’ of British Nazis is anemic! There are a few mildly amusing passages, but overall the book says nothing clever or insightful about Nazis. The author just found them rather ridiculous & their opponents just as bad. Unfortunate!
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Apparently Goodreads never saved my review of this when I read it originally?? Ack! Trying to remember what my main points are and have rewritten it.)
I loved this and it was totally bizarre. Apparently, Diana never forgave Nancy for the way she portrayed the fascists, which honestly could have been a whole lot harsher. She paints Eugenia Malmains (stand in for Unity) as a complete monomaniacal ideologue, which is probably true to who she was. Her fascist speeches warping English history for her
Jonkers Jonkers
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this despite the rather uncomfortable references to Nazism. Amusing, well-written and more than a touch of Wodehouse about it (praise indeed!). Will read some more Nancy Mitford.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, own
My last Nancy Mitford novel! Have left it for last due to controversy surrounding it (Hitler, Fascism) and based loosely on two of her sisters (Diana & Unity).

Yes, there is a character who adores Hitler, there isn’t a way around it. Written in 1934 and making fun of Socialism/Fascism, Nancy had no idea of the horrors that would come and subsequently refused to republish it in her lifetime due to familial and cultural sensitivities (Unity famously shot herself in head, unsuccessfully, when World
Being rather a fan of The Mitfords, and having read several biographies and letter collections as well as some of Nancy's later, better known novels, I was very curious when I heard Wigs on the Green was being re-issued. Having been out of print since not long after it first appeared, it is easy to why it caused such disquiet among her family. The introduction by Charoltte Moseley casts an interesting light upon this, and apparently Nancy took out 3 chapters which particularly mocked Sir Oswald ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of satire - I knew that going in, but it still didn't help, and Fascism still isn't funny. It just made me uncomfortable. As Nancy Mitford herself said later, "Too much has happened for jokes about Nazis to be regarded as funny or as anything but the worst of taste." This book was written in 1934 and it definitely shows. Perhaps not the best book to start out with while exploring this author's works. ...more
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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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