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Love in a Cold Climate (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Nancy Mitford
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Feb 2000 Penguin Modern Classics

Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate and Other Novels casts a finely gauged net to capture perfectly the foibles and fancies of the English upper class, and includes an introduction by Philip Hensher in Penguin Modern Classics.

Nancy Mitford's brilliantly witty, irreverent stories of the upper classes in pre-war London and Paris conjure up a world of glamour, gossip and decadence. In The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate and The Blessing, her extraordinary heroines deal with armies of hilariously eccentric relatives, the excitement of love and passion, and the thrills of the social Season. But beneath the glittering surfaces and perfectly timed comic dialogue, Nancy Mitford's novels are also touching hymns to a lost era and to the brevity of life and love from one of the most individual, beguiling and creative users of the language.

Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was born in London. A member of one of the aristocracy's more eccentric families, and educated at home with a clutch of siblings, Mitford used childhood experience, lightly fictionalised, in her comic novels, including The Pursuit of Love (1945). She also wrote biographies, translated from the French and edited a celebrated symposium on English Aristocrats.

If you enjoyed Love in a Cold Climate and Other Novels, you might like Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Very funny ... inimitable and irresistible ... one of the most individual, beguiling and creative users of English this century'

Philip Hensher


Frequently Bought Together

Love in a Cold Climate (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Pursuit of Love + Don't Tell Alfred
Price For All Three: 20.77

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  • The Pursuit of Love 6.29
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (5 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181493
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nancy Mitford was born in London on November 28 1904, daughter of the second Baron Redesdale, and the eldest of six girls. Her sisters included Lady Diana Mosley; Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and Jessica, who immortalised the Mitford family in her autobiography Hons and Rebels. The Mitford sisters came of age during the Roaring Twenties and wartime in London, and were well known for their beauty, upper-class bohemianism or political allegiances. Nancy contributed columns to The Lady and the Sunday Times, as well as writing a series of popular novels including The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, which detailed the high-society affairs of the six Radlett sisters. While working in London during the Blitz, Nancy met and fell in love with Gaston Palewski, General de Gaulle's chief of staff, and eventually moved to Paris to be near him. In the 1950s she began writing historical biographies - her life of Louis XIV, The Sun King, became an international bestseller. Nancy completed her last book, Frederick the Great, before she died of Hodgkin's disease on 30 June 1973.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Gathering three of Nancy Mitford's most famous works --The Pursuit of Love and The Blessing are included here alongside Love In A Cold Climate--this collection is the perfect introduction to a writer of great wit and charm, a singular voice in modern English prose whose themes are deeper and more profound than brief acquaintance might suggest. The first two novels, especially Pursuit..., are semi-autobiographical: the Radletts of Alconleigh are portraits of Mitford's own eccentric clan, while she herself appears as Fanny, a family cousin and the novels' narrator. The irrepressible, precocious Radletts provide many of the early instances of Mitford's deliciously wicked humour:
There was much worse drama when Linda, aged twelve, told the daughters of neighbours, who had come to tea, what are supposed to be the facts of life. Linda's presentation of the "facts" had been so gruesome that the children left Alconleigh howling dismally, their nerves permanently impaired, their future chances of a sane and happy sex life much reduced.
Following the amorous trajectories of Linda Radlett and of Polly Hampton, the first two books here are at once extremely funny and deeply serious, delineating the possibilities for love in a world circumscribed by the formal expectations and conventions of marriage. Mitford's heroines dramatise the search for a true or ideal relationship, regardless of social institutions or sexual orientation. If her casual attitude to adultery and, particularly, her portrait of Cedric--a gay character who is charming, flirtatious, and above all happy--resulted in her work being vilified by contemporaries for its "decadence" and "immorality", her exploration of female sexuality seems now to be resolutely modern, arguing the right to happiness and fulfilment.

Nancy Mitford's considerable literary output--biography, journalism, translation, fiction--has been somewhat eclipsed by the biographical extravagance of her extraordinary family: her sisters Unity and Diana (the wife of Sir Oswald Mosley) were enthusiastic fascists who notoriously cultivated the friendship of Adolf Hitler; another sister, Jessica, ran away to America and became a left-wing journalist, later writing The American Way of Death. Her case has not been helped by her subject-matter, for the milieu of the wealthy upper classes and their deep-rooted snobbishness and casual bigotry is one that might easily repel a reader who misses the irony, satire and the surfacing of darker concerns that characterise the books. A shame, for she is one of the true originals of modern English writing. --Burhan Tufail

About the Author

Born into one of the aristocracy's more eccentric families and educated at home with a clutch of siblings, Mitford used childhood experience, lightly fictionalised, in her comic novels. She also wrote biographies, translated from the French and edited a celebrated symposium on English Aristocrats.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 21 Sep 2006
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I agree with both the two very different reviewers here, but would like to add that the writing is sublime, and the emotions completely heartfelt, especially the end of Linda's story. Yes, the family is aristocratic, snobbish and enamoured of hunting, but they're also loving, witty and close ranks whenever anyone tries to prise them apart - so they're not all bad! This is one of those books that you can return to again and again (I had to buy the hardback edition because of that!) and it's still magical, moving and funny.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
My favourite book since I was twelve. Follow the fortunes of an eccentric English aristocratic country family whose father - "Fa" buys a new car whenever he thinks they are having a financial crisis. The children are obsessed by sex and discuss it endlessly in the "Hon's cupboard" - the only warm place in the house. This book has littered my whole life with quotes and is so well-thumbed it is positively dog-eared and has been dropped in the bath endlessly. Just get yourself a copy - it will be a friend for life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A simply marvellous collection 25 Aug 2008
By Secret Spi TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I remember Nancy Mitford's novels being read avidly by girls at school but I never got round to reading them until now. I am not sure what my teenage self would have made of them but I'm certainly glad that I've caught up with this extraordinary writer.

Although set in a time and society that is distant to most of us, there is an enchanting freshness and immediacy about these stories. They are simply buzzing with charm and wit. The first of the novels, "In Pursuit of Love", has its strength in the characterisation with two of the most hilarious but utterly believable characters I have ever encountered: the bluff Uncle Matthew and the marvellous "Bolter". Almost every line from these two is priceless. "Love in a Cold Climate" continues with the same narrator and characters and is a far more polished work in terms of structure and plot.

The final novel in this collection, "The Blessing", was perhaps the one I enjoyed most of all, its central theme being the culture clash when an English Rose marries a dashing Frenchman.

My only criticism of this edition of these novels is that, while this collection offers good value for money, the print is a little small to read. In addition, I read the three novels one after another which was rather like having three stiff Gin & Tonics in a row: maybe a little too much of a good thing!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beguiling, witty, fun 29 May 2008
By Well Read VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After many years since first reading Love in a Cold Climate, meeting Nancy Mitford's beguiling, hilarious, characters again, is a laughter fest. Surprises there are midst the intrigue. Who could forget the unexpected transformation of posh, stuffy, Lady Montdore by zany, camp, Cedric Hampton? Or charming, lecherous, womaniser Boyd Douglas, who is much more than he seems to be. This Penguin edition is particularly good value with the inclusion of In Pursuit of Love, and The Blessing, three of Nancy Mitford's memorable novels. For night owls they won't cure insomnia, they will though captivate, make you laugh, and make wish there were more. Which there are, if you search Amazon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed, a very British classic 25 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like Agatha Christie's stories, Nancy Mitford takes us back to a wonderful and now sadly lost chapter in British history when the world moved at a far slower pace and cigarettes didn't harm you.
This story oozes with her now famous quirky humour focussed on the British aristocracy, of which she was a part of. Today, perhaps Nancy could be parallelled with someone like Tara Palmer Thompkinson as the IT girl of the 1920's and 1930's; and would be very well placed.
Everyone should read at least one Nancy Mitford book in their lifetime, if not all of them; knockout!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book To Love In Any Climate 20 Mar 2011
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Technically `Love in a Cold Climate' is a sequel to the wondair (those of you who love Mitford will know what I mean) `The Pursuit of Love'. Told once again through the eyes of Fanny who narrated its predecessor we follow the story of the beautiful and perfect Polly Hampton from their childhood friendship, through to their `coming out'(no, not that sort) and onto a rather scandalous relationship that she then embarks upon. As this all goes on we are once again given an insight into the society of the 1930's between the wars. Women's roles are still to be somewhat submissive and the aim of a lady's life is to find a suitable husband, it does seem odd to think that this was actually not that long ago.

It has been said, including by the authors sister who writes the introduction to my edition, that `Love in a Cold Climate' was very much a rather autobiographical fictional piece. Uncle Matthew being very much like Nancy's father and the children seeming to have all the traits of her sisters even down to the gang they called `The Hons'. What I love about all of Nancy's writing (and I have also been reading the letters between her and Evelyn Waugh alongside) is her sense of humour. Some may find the setting rather twee or even irritating as she describes the naivety of the children, which soon becomes hilarious cheek and gossip, and the pompous nature of the adults in the society that Fanny and Polly frequent, I myself haven't laughed so much at a book in quite some time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 20th century story
This book is about the life and loves of women in early twentieth century. They are living an artistocratic life. The question is should you envy them or commiserate ? Read more
Published 28 days ago by Helpful teacher
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed these
These books explain so much about the class system in this country and the way I was brought up in upper middle class rural environment. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Specialmagiclady
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good read
Funny and sad, wonderful characters from a different era. Thoroughly recommend this collection which is one of the first I've bought for my new kindle!
Published 8 months ago by BarP
3.0 out of 5 stars Nancy Mitford Fan
Read this as a member of a local reading group-I only needed "Love in a Cold Climate" but this book contains 3 novels. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mrs Corinne AWhitham
4.0 out of 5 stars Frivolous Nonsense
Thoughly enjoyed this,
but won't be searching out any more Nancy Mitford,
lacking in content, once is definitely more than enough.
Published 16 months ago by Aisling Roche
3.0 out of 5 stars Love is luke warm
Love in a cold climate is an entertaining read becasue it reveals a world from an insider's view - namely that of the landed gentry and titled aristocracy. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dangle
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling Kindle Edition
This one-star rating is not for the books which are superb but instead intended as a word of warning for anyone wishing to purchase the Kindle edition of them. Read more
Published on 23 Jan 2012 by Marie E.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting stories but not in this edition
This isn't really a review of the stories just pointing out that this is set in really dense type. My reading glasses were put to the test and some! Read more
Published on 30 Oct 2011 by Marko
5.0 out of 5 stars Eldest sister
What a pleasure to read a book written in English by someone who seemed to be able to construct a sentence and had never received a proper education. Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2011 by alanlocoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
from a author with a talent for telling with a certain turn of phrase. I really enjoyed this book, it has three stories in one book, although I only really enjoyed two of the... Read more
Published on 22 Sep 2011 by G Star
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