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Darling Monster: The Letters of Lady Diana Cooper to her Son John Julius Norwich 1939-1952 [Kindle Edition]

Diana Cooper , Viscount John Julius Norwich
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

**** As read on BBC Radio 4 ****

Lady Diana Cooper was an aristocrat, society darling, an actress of stage and early screen. When she married rising political star Duff Cooper, they became the golden couple who knew everyone who was anyone; they sat at the very heart of British public life.

Diana’s letters to her only son, John Julius Norwich, cover the period 1939 to 1952. They take us from the rumblings of war, through the Blitz, which the Coopers spent holed up in the Dorchester (because it was newer, and therefore less vulnerable, than the Ritz), to rurual Sussex where we see Diana blissfully setting up a smallholding as part of the war effort. After a spell with the Free French in Algiers, Duff was appointed British Ambassador to France and the couple settled into the glorious embassy in post-Liberation Paris.

Over and beyond all the glitz, Diana emerges in these letters as highly intelligent, funny, fiercely loyal: a woman who disliked extravagance, who was often cripplingly shy, who was happiest in the countryside with her cow and goats and whose greatest love and preoccupation were her husband and son.

As a portrait of a time and some of history’s most dramatic and important events, these letters are invaluable. But they also give us a vivid and touching portrait of the love between a mother and son, separated by war, oceans – and the constraints of the time they lived in.

‘Please, darling monster, write as often as you can. It’s so sad waiting for letters that don’t come and are not even written. I love my darling boy. Don’t treat me so badly again or I’ll have your lights and liver when I get home.’ 19 November 1939

‘I wish, I wish it was all over – Hitler defeated, the lights up again and the guns still.’ 2 October 1940

‘Yesterday was a gallop of spirits and people and sun and fun.’ 26 September 1948

‘I do my best but I’ll always be a bum.’ 12 October 1948

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"Witty, touching, perceptive and beautifully written... Read at a sitting or keep by your bed -- either way you will be enchanted" (Jonathan Dimbleby Mail on Sunday)

"Cooper's letters have special immediacy and frankness... a lot of gossip, for sure, but also some sublime descriptive writing... And then there is her beadiness, which is worth its weight in silver breakfast trays... Truly blissful" (Rachel Cooke Observer (New Review))

"She treats her son, last seen in a dimly lit station, as a much missed grown-up to whom she can be exhilaratingly open. She sends him intimate glimpses of the great... the good... and the not-so good. Inescapably posh but rarely judgemental... she is rescued from glibness by her childlike curiosity and humour, and the always innocent eye with which she peeks at the world" (Nicholas Shakespeare Daily Telegraph)

"This book is a rich fruitcake, stuffed with delicious and surprising plums" (Jane Ridley Literary Review)

"Though always exigent of love, the letters are filled with jokes, sharp observation and relish for the passing moment. This selection of them offers a sparkling portrait of a maternal relationship" (Jane Shilling Evening Standard)

"Diana Cooper is as vivid in literature and social legend as she was in life. Her letters are frank, witty and humorous" (The Times)

"[Diana Cooper is] a terrific letter writer, as this book attests… Tender, absorbing and highly readable, this is a brilliant picture of a vanished world" (The Good Book Guide)

"A diary of Diana Cooper's life during the Second World War and afterwards in Paris – absorbing, funny and sharply observed" (Jane Ridley Spectator)

Book Description

Society darling, actress, wife of key WW2 politician Duff Cooper… Here are Lady Diana Cooper’s sparkling letters to her son John Julius

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting and delightful 24 Oct. 2013
The whole book is more than the early section about the Battle for Britain/Blitz, but that is the standout. Historians should use it as a primary source for information on what it was like to live in London in those times - I know no better.

She will, as she always has, divide opinion given her standing as a socialite and member of the Establishment - the least of our woes as we read the amazing good prose, the warmth and sincerity of a writer communicating from strength.

The Christmas present par excellence for those who relish a great book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, mischievous, ever entertaining 14 Nov. 2013
From the Blitz to Bognor, the Paris Embassy to the gym at the Dorchester, Lady Diana Cooper writes with enormous style, perception and sense of fun. These are not just a wonderful primary source of the period, and a hugely amusing read, but also at times extremely moving in their portrayal of a mother/son relationship. They most definitely don't make 'em like her any more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars World War 2 behind the scenes. 12 Jun. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderful description of London during the war, you really get to understand the hardships etc of what the locals had to endure and how stoic they were in spite of it all. A marvellous read and I am so pleased John Julius is sharing it with us. It would have been a tragedy to not have these letters published for the wider audience to really get behind the scenes as it were during day to day wartime life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars frank witness to an era 1 Mar. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
had no idea the legendary lady Diana was such a good writer - the letters to her son are an endless delight - beautifully edited by their recipient - a frank unsentimental witness to an era as seen from a most privileged level plus reminding today' s reader of the rough conditions facing wives among the privileged.
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I do not know if I love it, I probably will. But - Why oh Why does Amazon, as the example you could use to orient yourself, again, and again, give us the Index, somebody else s introduction to the book, or any other nonsens, that is absolutely not an example of the writing from the Writer?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 30 Aug. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A one-sided affair 7 Nov. 2013
The letters of Diana Cooper to her son are delightfully warm, amusing and intelligent. Unfortunately, they are almost entirely (with the exception of a single letter at the start of each section) by her. It would have been infinitely more involving if there were an equal quantity of missives from son to mother. As it is, it's like watching a tennis match where you only see Roger Federer serving.
Having said that, there are some fascinating insights into wartime life. I particularly enjoyed an account of Winston Churchill being hauled up a gorge with the aid of a tablecloth during a picnic near Algiers.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than any history book 28 Jan. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
History might be more biased when seen through an individual's eyes, but so it is with any text book author. How much more it comes to life in letters and diaries. The intimate details of the private personae of so many famous and influential people of the 20th century are a continuous fascination in this book, as are the wit, the personal comments, descriptions and nicknames never intended for publication. An absolute delight as well as an insightful view into the centre of a very momentous period around the second world war.
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