Contains Nancy Mitford's humorous letters to her family and friends. Mitford never wrote an autobiography, but this collection of letters provides a portrayal of her life and the times in which she lived.
The first collection of Nancy Mitford's letters - which, like those of her British literary contemporaries (Evelyn Waugh, Harold Acton, Cyril Connolly, et. al), reflect a wit and style that never quite mask an underlying anguish at a world changed too much. Born in 1904 and dying in Paris in 1973, Mitford was a diligent correspondent who left behind more than a thousand letters. This collection (edited by her niece), spanning more than 60 years and a hundred correspondents, includes not only letters that provide an epistolary history of Mitford's life but also those that illuminate her relationship with her famous peers and equally famous - or, as often, notorious - sisters: Jessica, author of The American Way of Death; Unity, admirer of Hitler; and Diana, wife of British fascist Sir Oswald Mosley. Like her friend Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time, Mitford's letters are written to or about that brilliant between-the-wars-generation that connected and reconnected in the company of interesting people in stylish milieus like the British embassy in Paris; Chatsworth, the ducal home of Mitford's youngest sister; and the Guinness's Irish castle. Many names here will be unfamiliar - and the need to consult footnotes is an irritant - but what makes the reading worthwhile are letters like the one in which Mitford relates Evelyn Waugh's answer when asked how he reconciled being so horrible with being a Christian. "He replied rather sadly that were he not a Christian he would be even more horrible." Mitford writes with great wit and plucky panache - making the best of an often unhappy personal life - about her writing, her friends, and contemporary events: the bombing raids in wartime London, Dior's "New Look," the 1968 riots in Paris, etc. A welcome addition to literary history that poignantly recalls the glittering youth and not-so-bright decline and fall of all those "bright young things" whom Mitford and Waugh wrote about so well elsewhere. (Kirkus Reviews)