Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Mitford Girls by Mary S Lovell ~ review





The true story behind the gaiety and frivolity of the six Mitford daughters - and the facts are as sensational as any novel: Nancy, whose bright social existence masked an obsessional doomed love which soured her success; Pam, a countrywoman married to one of the best brains in Europe; Diana, an iconic beauty, who was already married when at 22 she fell in love with Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British fascists; Unity, who was romantically in love with Hitler, became a member of his inner circle before shooting herself in the temple when WWII was declared; Jessica, the family rebel, who declared herself a communist in the schoolroom and the youngest sister, Deborah, who became the Duchess of Devonshire.This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, containing much new material, based on exclusive access to Mitford archives.

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I have long been mildly interested in the Mitford Sisters. Always from afar and not really knowing all that much about them, except one was a novelist, one shot herself and one of them is still alive.

I thought that by reading Mary S Lovell's biography, any questions I had would be answered and I could put the topic to bed with a tick in the "yes, I know about that" box.

However, like all good books, it has only served to fuel my interest and has led me to add many books about them as a collective group and individuals to my wish list.

Lovell's writing style is easy to follow and she includes details from the everyday to the extreme. From the very beginnings of the family all the way through to the remaining sisters (although, sadly, there is now only one) every aspect is there.



 It really is a rollacoaster of a ride. There were some bits that made me think "hang on.. the Churchill's? The Kennedy's? Hitler?" Yes -  they knew them all.

The intimacy and the loathing, the laughter and the tears, the love and the loss - it is all here. The book gives fair attention to all the siblings, but I found that Pamela and Tom were a little thin on the ground. I do not think that this is due to lack of research by the author -  but a lack of information to research.

Fret not - the others are there in abundance. With bells on.

The Mitford Girls gives not only a glimpse into a world now all but gone, but also into the lives of a dynamic group of siblings.

A stonking 8/10



11 comments:

  1. Oh that's exactly the kind of book I want to read right now - thanks for the review!x

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  2. I read this book in two days straight as if it were a ripping good yarn (though you couldn't make their lives up, could you?) and like you ended up with several more Mitford books to add to my collection. Extraordinary lives. Debo's 'Wait for Me!' is next on my list.

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  3. I have just finished this too - and it has fuelled mild obsessiveness with all things 'Mitford'. Just booked tickets to see a Mitford Film event at the National Film Theatre on July 4th - film about Nancy, and Decca. Then found Selina Hastings biog of Nancy at the weekend in a charity shop - hopefully £2 well spent.

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  4. I find them such an intriguing family. So many extremes- politically, behaviourally, emotionally and creatively... not to mention their glittering social whirls!

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  5. I read this last year, it's easy to read too for what, initially, appears to be a large book.

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  6. I'm not normally one for biogs, but this sounds fascinating. Great review.

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  7. Thanks for reviewing, it sounds good. I know a few things about the Mitford sisters.....mainly how they were Nazi's! Didn't one of them date Mosely? Then went to Germany to live? Caused a scandal? Maybe I should read the book :) x

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  8. I really enjoyed it. I do wonder if the girls went to extremes because they weren't allowed to go to school - an eccentric upbringing resulting in further eccentricities...

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  9. Excellent, I have this on my shelf waiting to be read - looking forward to it now! x

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  10. Will you get an amazon button already so I can easily buy all these fabby books you review?! This one sounds especially interesting as I grew up not too far from Chatsworth house. Keep 'em coming! xXx

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  11. I read this a few years ago and agree it's a really fascinating book about a very fascinating family.
    Lisa x

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I'd love to hear what you think so feel free to comment away!

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