Decca’s correspondence crackles with irreverent humor and mischief, and with acute insight into human behavior (and misbehavior) that attests to her generous experience of the worlds of politics, the arts, journalism, publishing, and high and low society. Here is correspondence with everyone from Katharine Graham and George Jackson, Betty Friedan, Miss Manners, Julie Andrews, Maya Angelou, Harry Truman, and Hillary Rodham Clinton to Decca’s sisters the Duchess of Devonshire and the novelist Nancy Mitford, her parents, her husbands, her children, and her grandchildren.
In a profile of J.K. Rowling, The Daily Telegraph (UK), said, “Her favorite drink is gin and tonic, her least favorite food, trip. Her heroine is Jessica Mitford.”
From the Hardcover edition.
The letters chronicle the social quirks and political upheavals of the twentieth century but also chart the stormy, enduring relationships between the uniquely gifted – and collectively notorious – Mitford sisters. There’s Nancy, the scalding wit and bestselling novelist; Pamela, who craved a quiet country life; Diana, the fascist wife of Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, whose obsession with Adolf Hitler led to personal tragedy; Jessica, the runaway communist; and Deborah, the socialite who became Duchess of Devonshire.
Writing to one another to confide, tease, rage and gossip, the Mitford sisters set out, above all, to amuse. A correspondence of this scope is rare; a collection penned by six born storytellers is irreplaceable.
The Mitfords had style and presence and were mercilessly gifted. Above all, they were funny—hilariously and mercilessly so. In this wise, evenhanded, and generous book, Mary Lovell captures the vitality and drama of a family that took the twentieth century by storm and became, in some respects, its victims.
Mitford modeled her characters on her own famously unconventional family. We are introduced to the Radletts through the eyes of their cousin Fanny, who stays with them at Alconleigh, their Gloucestershire estate. Uncle Matthew is the blustering patriarch, known to hunt his children when foxes are scarce; Aunt Sadie is the vague but doting mother; and the seven Radlett children, despite the delights of their unusual childhood, are recklessly eager to grow up. The first of three novels featuring these characters, The Pursuit of Love follows the travails of Linda, the most beautiful and wayward Radlett daughter, who falls first for a stuffy Tory politician, then an ardent Communist, and finally a French duke named Fabrice.
Featuring an introduction by Zoë Heller.
Polly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father served as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs. The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother’s dreams and her own disinheritance. When an elderly duke begins pursuing the disgraced Polly and a callow potential heir curries favor with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways.
Featuring an introduction by Flora Fraser.