Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie

Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford
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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 the biography of one Lady Maria Bobbin, a Victorian poet. Alas, he is denied access to her papers by the present Lady Bobbin, who is interested only in the hunt. Undaunted, Paul schemes to pose as a tutor to her son Bobby, a student at Eton, during the holidays, so that he can secretly study the poet’s papers while staying in the house. Bobby happily agrees to the ruse.

Bobby has an attractive sister, Philadelphia Bobbin, who is bored to death in the country and of a marriageable age. While she and Paul make eyes at each other, a horde of Bobbin relatives descend upon the house for Christmas.
Christmas Day itself was organized by Lady Bobbin with the thoroughness and attention to detail of a general leading his army into battle. Not one moment of its enjoyment was left to chance or to the ingenuity of her guests; these received on Christmas Eve their marching orders, orders which must be obeyed to the letter on pain of death.
Like all of Mitford’s novels, Christmas Pudding includes witty dialogue, silly situations, and scathing commentary on the vicissitudes of the upper class.

Pigeon Pie is more a novella, set during the early days of World War II. Sophia is the heroine, married to a former diplomat, now a businessman.
Sophia had a happy character and was amused by life; if she was slightly disillusioned she was by no means unhappy in her marriage. Luke was as cold as a fish and a great bore; soon however she began to regard him as a great joke, and as she liked jokes she became quite fond of him when, which happened soon, she fell out of love with him. . . Luke seemed to be getting very rich. About twice a week he obliged her to entertain or be entertained by insufferably boring business people, generally Americans. . .

‘I simply don’t see the point of getting up at six all the time you are young and working eighteen hours a day in order to be a millionaire, and then when you are a millionaire still getting up at six and working eighteen hours a day, like Mr. Holst. And poor Mrs. Holst, who has got up at six all these years, so that now she can’t sleep in the morning, only has the mingiest little diamond clip you ever saw. What does it all mean?’
The story continues with German spies and counter-spies as Sophia tries her best to contribute to the war effort with results that are occasionally heroic and always entertaining.
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Reading Progress

October 4, 2013 – Started Reading
October 5, 2013 – Finished Reading
October 29, 2013 – Shelved
October 29, 2013 – Shelved as: humor
October 29, 2013 – Shelved as: literary-fiction
October 29, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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