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The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters [Kindle Edition]

Charlotte Mosley
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Carefree, revelatory and intimate, this selection of unpublished letters between the six legendary Mitford sisters, compiled by Diana Mitford’s daughter-in-law, is alive with wit, passion and heartbreak.

The letters chronicle the social quirks and political upheavals of the twentieth century but also chart the stormy, enduring relationships between the uniquely gifted – and collectively notorious – Mitford sisters. There’s Nancy, the scalding wit and bestselling novelist; Pamela, who craved a quiet country life; Diana, the fascist wife of Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, whose obsession with Adolf Hitler led to personal tragedy; Jessica, the runaway communist; and Deborah, the socialite who became Duchess of Devonshire.

Writing to one another to confide, tease, rage and gossip, the Mitford sisters set out, above all, to amuse. A correspondence of this scope is rare; a collection penned by six born storytellers is irreplaceable.

Product Description


‘A novelist would never get away with inventing this: a correspondence spanning eight decades, written from locations including Chatsworth and Holloway Prison, between six original and talented women who numbered among their friends Evelyn Waugh, Maya Angelou, J. F. Kennedy and Adolf Hitler.’ J. K. Rowling

‘A glorious portrait of a six-way, life-enhancing, lifelong conversation.’ Sunday Times

'The Mitfords are all competitively exasperating…but slowly, cumulatively, as age and death are stared gallantly in the eye, I ended in tears.' Guardian

‘Absorbing, funny and often very moving…a remarkable story of six remarkable personalities.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator

‘Here, for the first time, are the six women’s own voices booming out from the tomb and across the decades…telling their extraordinary stories, which…is also the story of the twentieth century, told from the front row.’ India Knight, Sunday Times

‘Brilliantly entertaining…and a profoundly moving experience.’ Sunday Telegraph

'An anthropologist’s treasure…Every sister, whether a professional writer or not, has an extraordinary natural talent for narrative: for observation, reflection, jokes, dialogue and description, and deploys it with unfailing energy.' The Times

'”The Mitfords” is a thrilling and moving, funny and serious book. Here is a story of a family, of loyalty, love, humour, tragedy and, at times, chilling deception, a tale that sometimes amuses and horrifies, but always fascinates.' Daily Telegraph

‘The roars and shrieks, the jokes and the teases bounce across every page of this hugely enjoyable book.’ Evening Standard

‘The enduring fascination of this family comes not only from the larks and the society names but from the fact that the big currents of the twentieth century – fascism and communism, wars and death – washed through their lives.’ Financial Times

‘Funny, sad, outrageous and impeccably edited…it never flags for a moment.’ Mail on Sunday

From the Inside Flap

"A novelist would never get away with inventing this: a correspondance spanning eight decades, written from locations including Chatsworth and Holloway Prison, between six original and talented women who numbered among their friends Evelyn Waugh, Maya Angelou, J.F Kennedy and Adolf Hitler." J.K Rowling

Less inhibited than their memoirs and more intimate than the biographies written about them, this selection of unpublished letters between the six legendary Mitford sisters is alive with wit, hilarity, passion and heartbreak. The letters constitute not just an idiosyncratic social and historical chronicle of the 20th century, they also chart the stormy but enduring relationship between six beautiful and gifted women who incarnated the same indomitable spirit yet carved out starkly different roles and identities for themselves.

Nancy, the scalding wit who transferred her family life into bestselling novels; Pamela, who craved nothing more than a quiet country life; Diana, the fascist jailed with her husband, Oswald Mosley, during the Second World War; Unity, whose obsession with Hitler led to her attempted suicide; Jessica, the runaway communist and fighter for social change; and Deborah, the genial socialite who found herself Duchess of Devonshire.

Writing to one another to confide, commiserate, tease, rage and gossip, the sisters set out, above all, to amuse, and never lost the ability to laugh at themselves. A correspondance of this scope is rare, for it to be penned by six such born storytellers makes it unique.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9501 KB
  • Print Length: 830 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009JWAMS0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #71,011 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20th Century Blue-bloods 21 Oct. 2007
It's hard to imagine that there will ever be another book quite like this one; partly because of the death of letter-writing but mainly because it is hard to conceive of six astonishing characters as the Mitford sisters in one family - one sister a communist, another a duchess, yet another a bestselling novelist, yet another had Hitler as a wedding guest.

At times laugh-out-loud funny, at others incredibly moving; this is a compelling read and the range of the letters mirrors the diversity of the sisters' lives. The dramatis personae alone justifies the admission price - from Elsa Schiaparelli to Stella Tennant; Goebbels to JFK; Evelyn Waugh to Jon Snow; Winston Churchill to Lucian Freud; this book is an alternative history of the 20th Century.

If this book were a novel, it would fly of the shelves: beautiful writing, excellent jokes as well as tragedies dramatic and mundane, shaped into a compelling narrative by a very skilful editor. I can't recommend this highly enough even for those who think they already "know" the Mitford story.
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101 of 110 people found the following review helpful
By Geoffrey Woollard VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters," is a truly wonderful read. I have just finished the 800-plus pages and wish very much that there were 800 more. I'd like to give it 6 stars, but dear old Amazon (whose price is a giveaway £14.95 instead of the RRP of £25.00) only permits one to praise to a point. I willingly go beyond that point and any buyer who is a little hesitant about getting the book for Christmas and/or adding more copies to the order for the rellies that are loved or hated - both types will appreciate it, even if they can't or couldn't stand the Mitford 'girls' - should go ahead right away.

I have read somewhere that Charlotte Mosley (daughter-in-law of Diana Mitford, aka Lady Mosley) had access to some 12,000 personal letters exchanged by the sisters over nearly eighty years and has only chosen to use 5% of them for the book. But what a literal hoard of literary treasure!

Mrs Mosley has selected well and edited superbly, bringing out and explaining with her own notes the deep and long-lasting relationships of the sisters, the context of their times, their humour and their eccentricities, their enthusiasm for words in several languages, their loves and their tragedies and, with the exception of the delightful and redoubtable Deborah, now the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the sadnesses of their passing.

The sisters have been described as "eccentric" and "maddening." Having read and enjoyed every one of their letters as published in this splendid work, I would be inclined to suggest that they were no more eccentric or maddening than the members of many families.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars irreverent, whimsical, oddly moving 5 Oct. 2010
By Dr. Vernon M. Hewitt VINE VOICE
Much has come from the Mitford `industry', and not all of it particularly valuable or enduring. Yet here Charlotte Mosley has crafted a book of extraordinary intimacy. These letters ripple out over the long years, conveying trivia, love, resentment, anger, amusement, politics, and at all times the bizarre cozy after glow of a world that is now lost. The scale of this work is impressive - the editing flawless, the referencing catholic but unobtrustive. What is touching to me is the slow greying and narrowing of the gauge; Nancy retreating into a world of tray meals and pain, harsh at times but graceful, Honks finally bereft in an apartment in Paris, tired of a life lived to the full and still mysteriously (perhaps even inexplicably) the guardian of her second husband's legacy and Unity's innocence; Pam's eccentric wind in the willows existence. Slowly they retire and the circle of letters diminish. Why should we care about these? Why are they interesting? Because what are in themselves minute, often meaningless asides are in combination a dazzling peice of social history, warts and all: Charlotte is to be congratulated in welding this legacy into so bright a literary gem.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will get eye strain 23 May 2009
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love the novels of Nancy Mitford and have also enjoyed her non-fiction work. I was selecting a copy of The Pursuit of Love for a friend's birthday and a lady in the queue behind me asked me if I had read this book. She said it was a wonderful book for dipping in and out of. I bought it.

It is a wonderful book for dipping in and out of. Its eight hundred pages of letters between the six Mitford sisters, spanning eighty odd years is just right when you have the odd minute here or there. Or, like me, you could start reading like that and then get so hooked that you lug it around with you everywhere, devouring every last syllable and not being able to put it down. It was totally fascinating.

This is a eulogy to a time long gone and a unique social history which is told with wit, verve, passion, pathos and huge amounts of humour. The sisters' eccentric and unique personalities shine through with every line and it is just a total delight.

What I found particularly fascinating were the letters between Diana and Unity in the early thirties when Unity was in Germany as an avid fan of Hitler and Diana was a staunch supporter of her husband Oswald Mosley and his right wing politics. Not views I endorse, but nonetheless a completely different and compelling view of a turbulent and challenging time.

The letters have been well chosen and edited by family member Charlotte Mosley, a daunting task given that the sisters wrote to each other constantly, and the introductory pages and the use of well chosen photographs make this an extremely readable and comprehensive book.
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