This is Nancy Mitford's third novel, following on from her romantic and light hearted comedies, "Highland Fling" and "Christmas Pudding." In a sense, this is also a romantic comedy, but it has the strange backdrop of 1930's fascism. Of course, Mitford always wrote about the world she knew intimately and, in the 1930's, both Communism and Fascism were seen as attractive political options. One of Nancy's sisters was an ardent Communist and two famously (or infamously) were attracted to the rise of fascism - Unity and Diana. In this book, Unity is lampooned as Eugenia Malmains - "England's largest heiress..." and Diana's husband Oswald Mosley is Captain Jack, head of the Union Jack Movement.
The book begins with Noel Foster, a disgruntled office worker who has just received a moderate legacy from an aunt and who sets off, with Jasper Aspect, to marry an heiress. Jasper suggests Eugenia - rich, beautiful and mad, who they come across giving rousing speeches to a bemused local population of farm workers. Before long the two men have a choice of heiresses, with the lovely Lady Marjorie Merrith, her friend Poppy and a local beauty to choose from.
Nancy Mitford was wary of being sued by Oswald Mosley and cut her book by several chapters, although it still caused a massive family rift. After the war the book remained, probably wisely, out of print for seventy five years. However, what Mitford is poking fun out of is really Unity's longing to follow something - as she says in the book, had she been born earlier, she probably would have been a suffragette... So, enter the madness that is Mitford's world; where there is a home for lunatic peers built on the exact plans of the House of Lords, so that "the boys should feel at home," lots of romantic trysts and a pitched battle between the Social Unionists and the Pacifists. This is far from her best work, but it is still an interesting read.