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The Blessing [Paperback]

Nancy Mitford , Alex Kapranos
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010

The Blessing by Nancy Mitford with an introduction by Alex Kapranos.

It isn't just Nanny who finds it difficult in France when Grace and her young son Sigi are finally able to join her dashing aristocratic husband Charles-Edouard after the war. For Grace is out of her depth among the fashionably dressed and immaculately coiffured French women, and shocked by their relentless gossiping and bedhopping. When she discovers her husband's tendency to lust after every pretty girl he sees, it looks like trouble. And things get even more complicated when little Sigi steps in . . .

The Blessing is a hilarious tale of love, fidelity, and the English abroad, tailored as brilliantly as a New Look Dior suit.

'Entirely original, inimitable and irresistible' Spectator

'Deliciously funny' Evelyn Waugh

'Utter, utter bliss' Daily Mail

Nancy Mitford was the eldest of the infamous Mitford sisters, known for her membership in 'The Bright Young Things' clique of the 1920s and an intimate of Evelyn Waugh; she produced witty, satirical novels with a cast of characters taken directly from the aristocratic social scene of which she was a part. Her novels, Wigs on the Green,The Pursuit of Love,The Blessing andDon't Tell Alfred, are available in single paperback editions from Penguin or as part ofThe Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford which also includesHighland Fling, Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie. This edition of The Blessing features a new introduction by Alex Kapranos.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141044020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141044026
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,483 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


Admirable, deliciously funny, consistent and complete (Evelyn Waugh)

About the Author

Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was born in London, the eldest child of the second Baron Redesdale. Her childhood in a large remote country house with her five sisters and one brother is recounted in the early chapters of The Pursuit of Love (1945), which according to the author, is largely autobiographical. Apart from being taught to ride and speak French, Nancy Mitford always claimed she never received a proper education. She started writing before her marriage in 1932 in order 'to relieve the boredom of the intervals between the recreations established by the social conventions of her world' and had written four novels, including Wigs on the Green (1935), before the success of The Pursuit of Love in 1945. After the war she moved to Paris where she lived for the rest of her life. She followed The Pursuit of Love with Love in a Cold Climate (1949), The Blessing (1951) and Don't Tell Alfred (1960). She also wrote four works of biography: Madame de Pompadour, first published to great acclaim in 1954, Voltaire in Love, The Sun King and Frederick the Great. As well as being a novelist and a biographer she also translated Madame de Lafayette's classic novel, La Princesse de Clèves, into English, and edited Noblesse Oblige, a collection of essays concerned with the behaviour of the English aristocracy and the idea of 'U' and 'non-U'. Nancy Mitford was awarded the CBE in 1972.

Alex Kapranos is a singer and guitarist with the band, Franz Ferdinand. His first book, Sound Bites, was published by Penguin in 2006.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly modern and wonderfully funny 8 Jun 2000
By A Customer
'The Blessing' is just that -- a wonderfully funny book that combines the elegance of post-war France with thoroughly modern wit and social perspective. Infidelity, devious plots, fashion and family dramas all combine beautifully in Mitford's playful and enduring novel. I've read it over and over, laughing every time.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading for all divorcing parents. 24 April 2002
I enjoyed this book so much that I will definitely be reading it again. That's high praise-if we only have time to read 3000 books in the average life span, I don't want to waste time re-reading novels. This book is worth the sacrifice of something else.
Nancy Mitford is a fantastic writer. The novel is dedicated to Evelyn Waugh and there are similarities in writing style. The prose is lyrical, but funny and sarcastic. The difficulties of being an Englishwoman married to a Frenchman are hilariously described, particularly in relation to the different attitudes to extra-marital affairs.
The novel is set post-war and was written in 1951. There are some telling comments about the status of America in the post-war world. For example:
"But the Americans hate the people who were on their side in the war. It's the one thing they can never forgive..."
Nancy Mitford writes from a particular political standpoint and "The Blessing", the couple's son, Sigi, provides an example of the danger of manipulation as he aims to keep his parents apart.
He creates misunderstanding for his own ends in a very calculating way. There is a link between his behaviour and the manipulation that goes on between adults and countries. The novel isn't politically correct, it is of its time but still rings lots of bells now. Grace realises that she has to make compromises, her husband comes to appreciate her, but does all end happily ever after? That's the mystery.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, stylish and charming 31 May 2009
"The Blessing" shows Nancy Mitford at her witty and stylish best. It follows the story of the marriage between Grace (English rose, charming and unsophisticated) and Charles Edouard (dashingly French, and too sophisticated for his own good) and their problems in settling down to married life together. Upper class French and English society are beautifully depicted with an insider's eye and a sharp wit. Grace finds herself very ill at ease with her new French relations, and appalled by some of the mores of the society she has married into. The situation is further complicated by Grace and Charles-Edouard's son Sigismonde (the blessing of the title) who realises that his life will be infinitely more interesting and comfortable if his parents divorce because he can thereby have the best of both worlds, the French and the English. He therefore does all he can to prolong their estrangement, with comic effect. A very charming and entertaining read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'A Good Read!' 29 July 2010
This novel is up to the usual Nancy Mitford standard, with some absolutely hilarious moments. The differences between an 'English Rose' and her suave, sophisticated, thoroughly Parisian husband are nicely drawn. Their curse (oh, sorry, I mean the eponymous 'Blessing') is their child, concieved on their wedding night before the groom returns to the War, is a little horror. Without wishing to spoil the plot, I could hardly wait for the conniving, manipulative little so-and-so to get what he so richly deserves!

Buy it, you'll find it is still as amusing as when it was first written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Blessing 26 Nov 2013
Published in 1951, this was one of four novels Nancy Mitford published after WWII (she wrote eight novels, four before the war and four after). The other three post-war books were a loose trilogy, but this is the only stand alone novel published during this period and is a light hearted romantic comedy.

The novel begins during the war, when Grace, daughter of Sir Conrad Allingham, falls in love with the aristocratic Frenchman, Charles-Edouard de Valhubert. Although Grace is engaged to another man, she is swept off her feet by Charles-Edouard - who marries her and then goes off to fight in the war. Grace is left to live quietly in the country, where she gives birth to their son Sigismond, "the blessing" of the title. After the war, Charles-Edouard takes them off to France, but lives very much as a single man; flirting and carrying on romances with his mistresses.

What follows is a story of misunderstandings and a realisation of what Grace and Charles-Edouard mean to each other. Sigi is very much involved; attempting to make the most out of his parents admirers and to use the situation to his own purposes. Poor Grace is not given much sympathy, despite Charles-Edouard's pretty appalling behaviour, but this is full of Nancy Mitford's quite unsentimental humour and, considering her own lover was an aristocratic Frenchman, I assume that she knew what their poor wives had to put up with. Sharp, satirical and witty, this is a delightful later Mitford novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Grace, an English country dwelling girl, falls for the dashing, witty, cultured Charles-Eduoard. Once married, and after a brief interlude (the second world war), they move to France where Grace learns that the French have there own way of doing things.......
This is a fantastic book - full of satire and the characters are filled out so much that even the most reprehensible ones are strangely alluring. A great read in true Mitford style.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The way the other half lives
I chose this rating because the book was well written, giving a picture of post-war France which was probably true of the aristocracy at that time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JoJo
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny but dated
This was a book club choice by one of our older members. Nancy Mitford always wrote extremely well and The Blessing is a rather good photograph in history of a period of life... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Barbara Gardner
3.0 out of 5 stars The Little Monster
Read this for our book club, and expected more from it to be honest.
I can't quite see the humour in it - probably because times have thankfully moved on from the era when men... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mrs Moo
3.0 out of 5 stars Give it a go if you like the Mitfords
Not read it yet hence low rating but looks like a good read,cover design is nice and cheerful too! Give it a go.
Published 15 months ago by Justina Skeet
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph.
Bitterly disappointed by the infidelities of her French husband, beautiful Grace is pursued by a number of suitors willing to fill his shoes. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Charlotte
4.0 out of 5 stars LIFE AS ENTERTAINMENT
Grace Allingham, a young and unassuming Englishwoman from an affluent background, makes the acquaintance of Charles-Edouard de Valhubert, a French Air Force officer, during the... Read more
Published 23 months ago by MONTGOMERY
4.0 out of 5 stars The Blessing
This book is a wonderful incite into a section French society at the time.
Having lived in France for a while in the early 70s it is interesting to see both the similarities... Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2012 by Zizi
4.0 out of 5 stars Upper Class but not Twitty
Nancy Mitford brings to life a section of society most of us will never visit never mind inhabit. But the characters engage you in all their problems. Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2012 by Tiger B
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