Reading the 20th Century discussion

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Favourite Authors > Nancy Mitford

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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
The whole Mitford family is a subject of endless fascination and controversy, but Nancy Mitford is probably the most popular author of the clan, known for her sharp wit.

Nancy Mitford

As well as novels like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, she is also known for popularising the terms U and Non-U, describing different classes' speech patterns - though she regarded the terms as a joke!

What books have you read by Nancy Mitford and also about her and the Mitfords?


message 2: by Lady Clementina (last edited Oct 22, 2017 01:50AM) (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 313 comments I "discovered" Mitford through a group I belonged to on Shelfari (and which is now here) - the first of hers I read was The Blessing which made me laugh very much. Since then I have acquired a copy of the complete novels and have read (and enjoyed) all but one. Two of her non-fiction books (Mme de Pompadour and Voltaire) are on my TBR as is Mary Lovell's bio.

I haven't read any of the other sisters' writing though, have you?


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
I have read all of her novels, but not all her non-fiction books. Those I have read I have enjoyed though.


message 4: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 227 comments I discovered her through the Bright Young Things group on goodreads and through a bio of Evelyn Waugh. I've read all her novels and a little of her non-fiction. I've read The Sisters, about the family, and then read a biography of Diana, and two of Jessica's books: Hons and Rebels and The American Way of Death. The whole family is just fascinating. They seem to cover any aspect of mid-20th century history you could want.


message 5: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
Lady C, Susan and Bronwyn, you have all read a lot more by Nancy Mitford than I have!

I read The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate some years back and don't remember them all that well now, but I think I quite liked them.

I have also read The Making Of A Muckraker by her sister Jessica Mitford, again many years ago, and remember that as being an excellent read, investigative journalism on a range of subjects.


message 6: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 88 comments I vividly recall Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate - adore them - and the films - Uncle Matthew hunting the children instead of foxes - and the delicious Cedric Hampton. Hons and Rebels was hugely entertaining. I also enjoyed The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family - lots of background info on Diana and Unity.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
I am currently reading Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister and the author tells of how upset Churchill was when his nephew, Giles Romilly was captured in Norway. He was a journalist and was, in fact, the first British civilian POW. Giles was the son of Clementine's sister and his brother, Edmond, was rumoured to be Churchill's son. He later married Jessica Mitford and I was just interested to read of all the links between various people who I really didn't realise were related to each other.


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
I am also reading a crime novel The Mitford Murders The Mitford Murders (Mitford Murders #1) by Jessica Fellowes
Have just started it, but I am hoping for good things.


message 9: by CQM (new)

CQM I noticed elsewhere in this group The Loved One is going to be read, excellent book it is too but there is a book by Jessica Mitford called The American Way of Death that is often considered a sort of companion piece. It's her investigation into unscrupulous funeral directors and the commercialization of death. Haven't read it but it certainly sounds like a bundle of chuckles.


message 10: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8410 comments Mod
CQM wrote: "I noticed elsewhere in this group The Loved One is going to be read, excellent book it is too but there is a book by Jessica Mitford called The American Way of Death RevisitedThe American Way of Death that is often considered a sort of companion piece. It's her investigation into unscrupulous funeral directors and the commercialization of death. Haven't read it but it certainly sounds like a bundle of chuckles. "

Thanks CQM. I've read quite a bit by Jessica Mitford, but not The American Way of Death, and agree that it would make a splendid companion piece to The Loved One


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
I hadn't heard of The American Way of Death, CQM. It does look interesting though, so thanks for pointing it out.


message 12: by Bronwyn (last edited Oct 26, 2017 11:20AM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 227 comments The American Way of Death is really interesting. I've loaned my copy to my mom or I'd reread it after The Loved One. It's a good look into the American funereal business. Some of the practices are pretty appalling... If I remember correctly, the HBO show Six Feet Under used it as a sort of primer, which fits with what I remember of the book.


message 13: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
I vaguely think there is a section from The American Way of Death or an article relating to it in The Making of a Muckraker, as I remember reading something about it there.


message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
I came across this recently The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: Letters Between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952-73 The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street Letters Between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952-73 by John Saumarez Smith

Nancy Mitford was a brilliant personality, a remarkable novelist and a legendary letter writer. It is not widely known that she was also a bookseller. From 1942 to 1946 she worked in Heywood Hill's famous shop in Curzon Street, and effectively ran it when the male staff were called up for war service. After the war she left to live in France, but she maintained an abiding interest in the shop, its stock, and the many and varied customers who themselves form a cavalcade of the literary stars of post-war Britain. Her letters to Heywood Hill advise on recent French titles that might appeal to him and his customers, gossip engagingly about life in Paris, and enquire anxiously about the reception of her own books, while seeking advice about new titles to read. In return Heywood kept her up to date with customers and their foibles, and with aspects of literary and bookish life in London. Charming, witty, utterly irresistible, the correspondence gives brilliant insights into a world that has almost disappeared.

It's fairly short, at less than 200 pages. I love Nancy Mitford, love bookshops, love reading other peoples letters... Anyone else interested in this, or has read it?


message 15: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 995 comments I do have this book. I think I may have started it but it appears to have wandered on to a bookshelf at this point. It looked interesting.

Last week I came across (on one book store site or another) Nancy Mitford: The Biography Edited from Nancy Mitford's Letters by Harold Acton. I think I wasn't sure whether I had it or not so I didn't pick it up. But I now notice it is available on Amazon Kindle for $5.99. So I may yet pick it up.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
That is currently only £1.49 on kindle in the UK, Jan. I downloaded it last week, I think.


message 17: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 88 comments Susan wrote: "I came across this recently The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: Letters Between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952-73 [bookcover:The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: Letters Between Nancy..."

I've seen it - but I haven't read it. It sounds like something I'd like.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
I wonder whether it is best to have a whole biography edited around her letters, or more meaningful to take one particular correspondence (as in the bookshop volume) and follow it through?


message 19: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 88 comments I'll take the correspondence. BIG biographies usually bore me - I'm a memoir kind of guy (usually more focused on a specific event in someone's life). Also - I like correspondence over collected "letters" of whoever. I have a big book of letters by Capote and I read a letter and wonder: what's he talking about - "I read the book and thought this..." what book? "I talked to him about what happened at the party..." what party? It doesn't include the other person's letter or have (at least I don't remember it) explanation to fill in the gaps. It seems I have another book of "letters" where the same is true. I feel like I'm eavesdropping on one side of a telephone conversation.


message 20: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 995 comments Ivan wrote: "I'll take the correspondence. BIG biographies usually bore me - I'm a memoir kind of guy (usually more focused on a specific event in someone's life). Also - I like correspondence over collected "l..."

That was one of the things I appreciated about Vera Brittain's Letters. We could see both sides of the discussion, except for the end when we only saw her brother's letters and not hers.


message 21: by Susan (last edited Nov 08, 2017 09:57PM) (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
Yes, reading only one side of a correspondence is quite disconcerting, I agree. Letters are SO immediate as well, aren't they? Reading about WWI is one thing, but reading Vera Brittain's letters to her fiance, her brother and his friends, just put you in that place and time...


message 22: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 14, 2017 11:53PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8410 comments Mod
New fiction inspired by our Nancy....


The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes is a thrilling Golden Age-style mystery based on a real unsolved murder and set amid the legendary Mitford household.

Available 23 January, 2018


More here, including an excerpt...

https://www.criminalelement.com/stori...

It's 1920, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London.

Louisa's salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nursemaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy, an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But then a nurse―Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake―is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret...




message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
Currently reading this, Nigeyb. Will report back.


message 24: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 15, 2017 01:24AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8410 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Currently reading The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes, Nigeyb. Will report back."

Thanks. I look forward to your conclusions Susan. There are a few reviews up already - and those are quite variable. You are a reliable reviewer and an excellent judge of a book's merits.


message 25: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
It's good, but I am not racing through it. I don't think it will be a five star read, but I will see how it develops...


message 27: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8410 comments Mod
Thanks Susan for another very interesting review


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
Thanks. For anyone interested in the Mitford sisters, it is really only Nancy who features in this book. The other sisters are very young. However, the author has certainly given herself lots of scope in future books, with all their adventures!


message 29: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 3968 comments Mod
I read this, too, Susan, and thought much the same as you - the vicious uncle felt very out of step with the 'cosy' feel.


message 30: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8892 comments Mod
Yes, he really didn't work, did he? Also, some of the plot felt too modern. It was an interesting idea though.


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