After having read several of Charlotte Moseley's anthologies of the Mitfords letters and personal writings I was intrigued to read this book about possibly the least sympathetic of the Mitford sisters, Unity.
Unity, an acknowledged difficult child, who grew up to be a difficult woman who decided to break away from her family by embracing fascism, and Hitler worship in particular, and who shot herself in the head at the outbreak of WWII, leading to years of ill health and an early death from meningitis, is a tricky character.
Hyde Price did not have the Mitford family's authorisation to write this book and it shows. He has interviewed many peripheral characters who flitted in and out of Unity's life, and this patchwork approach to the story is not very fulfilling. Quite often the people he interviews acknowledge that they didn't really know her very well, or do not remember certain times and events that clearly. Some of what they say is supposition, and much of what they say is common knowledge and already in the public domain.
Using this approach we get a random time line which consists of half remembered anecdotes, ill informed snippets and the most bland of diary entries detailing social events that Unity attended. There is little attempt to reach an in depth understanding of such a troubled character, and the author's continual need to ascertain whether Unity had sex with anyone seems rather morbid, given the fact that all the people he interviews are clear on the fact that Unity was not a sexual person at all. In fact this is one of the only things they agree on.
This is a sketchy volume which skims the years after her shooting woefully, and which seems to have been written for the sake of raking up salacious scandal, rather than with any real interest in such a fascinatingly complicated character. Hugely disappointing.