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Wait For Me: Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister [Hardcover]

Deborah Devonshire
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
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Book Description

7 Sep 2010

Deborah Devonshire is a natural writer with a knack for the telling phrase and for hitting the nail on the head. She tells the story of her upbringing, lovingly and wittily describing her parents (so memorably fictionalised by her sister Nancy); she talks candidly about her brother and sisters, and their politics (while not being at all political herself), finally setting the record straight.

Throughout the book she writes brilliantly about the country and her deep attachment to it and those who live and work in it. As Duchess of Devonshire, Debo played an active role in restoring and overseeing the day-to-day running of the family houses and gardens, and in developing commercial enterprises at Chatsworth. She tells poignantly of the deaths of three of her children, as well as her husband's battle with alcohol addiction.

Wait For Me is enthralling and a total joy, full of the author's sympathetic wit (which she is not afraid to use on herself).

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition - Second Impression edition (7 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848541902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848541900
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A touching, funny memorial to a vanished age' (Stephen Moss, Guardian)

'I was captivated . . . unputdownable' (Bel Mooney, Daily Mail)

'The Duchess is an exhilarating writer, with a great gift for storytelling, and a prose style of elegant simplicity' (Jane Shilling, Evening Standard)

'Wait For Me! proves irresistible, even for die-hard Mitphobes like me' (Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday)

'Funny and sad, the irresistible combination that is one of the secrets of charm' (Daily Telegraph)

'She [Debo] is in possession of what I can only describe as a uniquely Mitford-esque sensibility; loving but unsentimental; devoid of self-pity; unwilling to bore others with her own travails; able to find the ridiculous in almost anything . . . these qualities - disarmingly rare in Oprahworld - are , to me, indisputably admirable' (Observer)

'An entertaining, lively portrait' (Scotsman)

'The one book this year that everyone will want in their Christmas stocking' (A. N. Wilson, Spectator)

'Admirably done, cannily blending disclosure and reticence in a charming book that kept me riveted, both by what is said . . . and what remains firmly under wraps' (Daily Telegraph Biographies of the Year)

'I cried several times during Deborah Devonshire's memoir . . . the calibre of events, cast and author could hardly be higher and Debo has potted an extraordinary life (though ordinary to her) with kindness and humour' (Rachel Johnson, Observer Christmas special)

'[Debo] is a glorious testament to the fact that we should never retire early in case our brains atrophy. It's stuffed full of wonderful people, and Debo has a great ear for the killer, defining quote . . . Just reading this book made me hare off to visit Chatsworth . . . The best books make you see the world differently and maybe want to change yours. We will not see her like again' (Liz Jones, Daily Mail Christmas books special)

'Talk about a life lived in full . . . Her memoirs, Wait for Me! are as fascinating and entertaining a portrait of the last century as you could hope to read' (Sandra Parsons, Daily Mail Christmas books special)

'Deborah Devonshire has had an astonishing life and her memoirs are peopled by a cast of characters that includes Winston Churchill, the Queen, John F. Kennedy, Lucian Freud and Elivs Presley . . . She's also unusually frank about her late husband's alcoholism. Yet while there's a lot of sadness in this book, there's no self-pity. Instead, you get the impressions that, at 90, Deborah Devonshire's zest for life, gossip and mischief is as strong as ever' (John Preston, Daily Mail Christmas books special)

'Evocative, funny, nostalgic' (Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard Christmas books)

'Enchanting. Dip in and be beguiled' (Tatler, December)

'Rich, lyrical and cheeful' (Country Life)

'Admirably done, cannily blending disclosure and reticence in a charming book that kept me riveted, both by what is said . . . and what remains firmly under wraps' (Miranda Seymour, Daily Telegraph)

Fascinating (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

At the age of ninety, Debo (as she is known to all her friends) looks back on a life lived at a cracking pace.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
219 of 222 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debo's Delight 14 Sep 2010
The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's eagerly awaited autobiography arrived last week and I am delighted to submit the first Amazon review.
Wisely, the nonagenarian Duchess has found the time to write the book herself, rather than subject herself to the vagaries of a biographer. The result is a delightful personal memoir of a long, varied and interesting life. Her vivid recollections of the years before the Second World War give us an insight into a way of life long since gone.
She chronicles the good times and the bad; the happy and the sad (three infant children died prematurely).
The lives of the Mitford sisters are well documented, but this book is different. It brings us right up to the present time with the Duchess now living a well-deserved, happy and contented life 'in retirement' on the Chatsworth Estate.
Just as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who, when she married Prince Albert, never expected to be Queen, so The Hon. Deborah Mitford when she married Lord Andrew Cavendish never expected to become Duchess of Devonshire. Andrew Cavendish's elder brother died in action in the War in 1944 and as a result caused him to become heir to the Dukedom. He inherited in 1950 when his father, the 10th Duke, died prematurely.
Faced with crippling death duties, the new Duke and Duchess heroically rescued Chatsworth from an uncertain future. I suspect that the Duchess underplays the role she took in all of this, and I am sure that her guiding hand has been a major factor in the renaissance of this great house. She lived in the house for 47 years and left an indelible impression on what we see today.
The book runs to 350 pages, but that could easily have been 1,000. It must have been difficult to decide what to include and what to leave out. There are some delightful vignettes.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 16 Sep 2010
I loved this book. DD writes so beautifully in an engaging self deprecating manner. I was particularly moved by the description of her husband's (ultimately successful) battle with alcoholism and the effect it had on their lives. There are sad times but many happy ones too. I was totally gripped from beginning to end. Nancy Mitford has met her literary match at last!
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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable 16 Sep 2010
A very nice book to read. DD is probably one of the few people alive that has met Hitler and J.F.Kennedy. As the youngest of the Mitford sisters, she has witness a lot in her long life. However, her modesty and easy going personality, together with a strong will, have allowed her to overcome many challenges in her life. Great fun as well. Lots of humour in the middle of very difficult passages. I enjoyed it very much!.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Delight from Start to Finish 13 Jan 2011
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I am a huge fan of books about and by the Mitfords. I have been steadily working my way through the volumes of letters which Charlotte Moseley has been editing over the last few years, all of which have been superb, and after reading the marvellous collection of letters between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor last year, I just knew I had to have this book of Deborah's memoirs as soon as it came out.

I was not disappointed in the slightest. Deborah was always happy to style herself as the least literary of the Mitfords and the family joke was that like her father, she had only ever read one book. This self deprecating, fascinating read gives the lie to that myth, but it is clear that Deborah's heart is truly in the country, even though she might have let her head dip into one or two books more than she lets on.

You cannot fail to be fascinated by her account of a lifestyle which is now long gone, an aristocratic youth of privilege, growing up in stately homes amongst some of the most influential people of the last century, the world of debutantes and balls and the great social events that shape the year of the affluent. She takes us through the inauguration of Jack Kennedy, the funeral of the same, meetings with the Royal family and members of parliament, most of whom she happens to be related to. The charm of her account is that she makes it seem so ordinary, and is inclusive in the way she writes. It is as if she is inviting you into her world, and there is no snobbery whatsoever. She writes about her gamekeeper with the same affection as she does the Queen Mother.

The other thing that lifts this book out of the ordinary is Deborah's sense of humour.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Entertaining 2 Jan 2011
I very much enjoyed reading this autobiography from the youngest (and only surviving) Mitford sister. The early chapters are particularly strong and bring the Mitford family to life, especially the Mitford's father, Lord Redesdale (known as Farve). Of course the Mitford sisters were prolific writers and diarists - it is interesting to get the perspective of the youngest sister who was able to observe her older siblings from some distance in terms of the years between them and there are anecdotes in this book that I have not come across in previous Mitford works. Deborah Devonshire's style of writing is refreshingly direct and honest and had me laughing out loud in places. She is clearly a strong character but also comes through as very likeable and "normal". I suppose it is inevitable that some of her views on issues of the day (eg hereditary peers, hunting) will jar with some modern readers and I must admit I felt slightly uneasy towards the end with seemingly endless descriptions of sumptuous parties and balls at Chatsworth and elsewhere. Don't let that put you off though - this is a fascinating autobiography packed with the detail you would expect from someone who has led such a full and interesting life. The book also includes some excellent first hand diary material about the Kennedy's, the aftermath of JFK's assassination and his funeral that Deborah Devonshire was uniquely placed to observe and record for posterity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucky to have found this book !
This was a very special story for me as I had never heard of the Mitford sisters (possibly vaguely in that they played some roll in WWII, but nothing more). Read more
Published 6 hours ago by Bruce Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
beautiful insight into a lovely ladies life
Published 4 days ago by John Andrews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 6 days ago by HK
5.0 out of 5 stars ... young and that sums her up perfectly An extremely nice book.
They called her "The Duchess" when she was young and that sums her up perfectly An extremely nice book.
Published 14 days ago by Nonie Bulbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth a read
Very good book, interesting and a good read. Bought for m-in -law but read it after she did and really enjoyed it. Is of particular interest to us as we live near to Chatsworth
Published 16 days ago by archi
5.0 out of 5 stars Good deal
<<i got what I want.
Published 17 days ago by Julia Schoenleber
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story. Always enjoy stories about the Mitford Girls
Great story. Always enjoy stories about the Mitford Girls.
Published 1 month ago by mary
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a lovely well written book about a famous family
Published 1 month ago by wey
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating glimpse into the lives of the aristocracy from ...
A fascinating glimpse into the lives of the aristocracy from pre world war 2 to the present, and in particular the Mitford family.
Published 1 month ago by deirdre
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, boring, boring
I read this as part of a book club and the majority of us found it very dull because of the frequent name dropping. Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Babb
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