Saturday, 7 February 2009

Book Review - The Mitfords - Letters between six sisters, edited by Charlotte Mosley

The Mitfords - Letters between six ister - edited by Charlotte Mosley

I am a huge fan of Nancy Mitford's novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate so I was delighted to get this for Christmas and even though it is immense I whizzed through it.

The Mitford Sisters, Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah, were infamous and rarely out the British papers in the 1920's and 1930's. The letters, which were edited down form 8000, chronicle their lives from 1925 to 2005, when Diana died leaving Deborah as the sole surviving sister.

The book is fascinating insight into the lives of six women who knew some of the most influential and famous people of their time. It's very funny how they make occasional reference to the Fat Friend (JFK) or Cake (The Queen mother) but these usually take second place to tales of husbands, children, dogs and in Pamela's case meals she has cooked.

Unity's letters about Hitler make uncomfortable reading, not just because of who he was and what he did but because of the level of fanatical hero worship in them, they are quite chilling.

Surprisingly Diana, wife of the leader of the faciast party in the UK, came across as the most sympathetic sister. Despite her politics she does seem a genuinely funny, caring person. Of course her daughter in law edited the letters so that might have something to do with!

At times the footnotes get tiresome, the Mitfords had a language of their own and everyone had a nickname, Oswald Mosley is called Kit by Diana and the Leader by Nancy and Oswald by no one! So in the beginning I was constantly checking who was being referred to.

If you're interested in the sisters or just like uncovering lives through letters this is a fabulous book.


  1. It sounds fascinating. Will check it out.

  2. Captain Hook - excellent, do let me know if you like it.


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