I knew nothing of the Mitford sisters, especially not that one lived so nearby my family home, until I read `The Mitford's: Letters Between Six Sisters' a few years ago which swiftly became one of my all time favourite reads. Deborah Devonshire, or `Debo', is the youngest and last surviving of the Mitford sisters and was also one of the people responsible for turning Chatsworth into the stately success that it has become. In an assorted collection of articles, diaries and reviews that make up `Counting My Chickens' we gain a greater in sight into her life. From here childhood with her siblings, to taking on Chatsworth and all it entails and to how live has changed for her over the years (I wanted to say as she aged but I fear it would be improper with a Mitford sister and rather impolite).
There are three sections to the collection; `Diaries' looks at her life over several years and has titbits on her sisters and other famous relatives, her thoughts on the TV version of `Love in a Cold Climate' are interesting and thought provoking. `Chatsworth' looks at how the estate has changed over the years, the responsibilities of it and how much she adores the place and the staff it has housed who have become friends. `Books and Company' is a selection of reviews of books by those she knows or those in the `stately home' genre plus more of a look back on her childhood.
I loved all the sections but it was `Chatsworth' that sang out to me, probably because I was one of the youngsters that used to play in the parkland way back when. It really evokes the atmosphere and scenery of that beautiful part of the English countryside. In fact if you love books that are quintessentially English you need go no further than this or indeed any other Mitford memoir. Like her sister Nancy (I have yet to read anything by Jessica) Deborah Devonshire has a way of phrasing things which is sardonic and wry yet delightful and warming. I wonder if it was in their gene pool.