Friday, June 16, 2006

Love etc

When I picked up this book, attracted by its intriguing title and the fact that the introduction was written by Philip Hensher, I noticed how tiny the font was, and how thin the pages were. I deduced that these three novels by Nancy Mitford would take me a while but I was willing to give it a chance. It looked interesting enough.

And was I right. I'm into the second novel now - the one called Love in a Cold Climate (the others are The Pursuit of Love and The Blessing) and can't seem to put it down.

The upper class characters - which follow from The Pursuit of Love - are entertaining, funny and truly enchanting. I especially am fond of Uncle Matthew who writes down names of people he doesn't like and places them in drawers as he hopes that by doing so, they will die within a year.

"The drawers at Alconleigh were full of little slips bearing the names of those whom my uncle wanted out of the way.."

Cedric, too, is a delight with his brash campy-ness.

The two novels are loosely based on Mitford's own experiences and satirises the British Upper classes.

I hadn't a clue who Nancy Mitford was until this book. She was a bestselling author and biographer, and confidante of Evelyn Waugh. And it's easy to understand why she loosly based the story on her own family. Her sisters lived notorious lives, with two of them being part of Hitler's entourage - one of them even shot herself in the head when war on Germany was declared, only to live for nine more years. Another sister was communist.

But back to Nancy Mitford. Her writing is just darling - witty, bitingly funny and such fun to read. It really does deserve to be read in a large armchair with a pot of tea, but I've been reading snatches on the bus, and before I sleep. And despite being on my way to finishing the second book, I feel as if I ought to start reading it from the begining again.

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