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Love in a Cold Climate (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 5 Feb 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (5 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181493
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,581 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

Amazon Review

Gathering three of Nancy Mitford's most famous works --The Pursuit of Love and The Blessing are included here alongside Love In A Cold Climate--this collection is the perfect introduction to a writer of great wit and charm, a singular voice in modern English prose whose themes are deeper and more profound than brief acquaintance might suggest. The first two novels, especially Pursuit..., are semi-autobiographical: the Radletts of Alconleigh are portraits of Mitford's own eccentric clan, while she herself appears as Fanny, a family cousin and the novels' narrator. The irrepressible, precocious Radletts provide many of the early instances of Mitford's deliciously wicked humour:
There was much worse drama when Linda, aged twelve, told the daughters of neighbours, who had come to tea, what are supposed to be the facts of life. Linda's presentation of the "facts" had been so gruesome that the children left Alconleigh howling dismally, their nerves permanently impaired, their future chances of a sane and happy sex life much reduced.
Following the amorous trajectories of Linda Radlett and of Polly Hampton, the first two books here are at once extremely funny and deeply serious, delineating the possibilities for love in a world circumscribed by the formal expectations and conventions of marriage. Mitford's heroines dramatise the search for a true or ideal relationship, regardless of social institutions or sexual orientation. If her casual attitude to adultery and, particularly, her portrait of Cedric--a gay character who is charming, flirtatious, and above all happy--resulted in her work being vilified by contemporaries for its "decadence" and "immorality", her exploration of female sexuality seems now to be resolutely modern, arguing the right to happiness and fulfilment.

Nancy Mitford's considerable literary output--biography, journalism, translation, fiction--has been somewhat eclipsed by the biographical extravagance of her extraordinary family: her sisters Unity and Diana (the wife of Sir Oswald Mosley) were enthusiastic fascists who notoriously cultivated the friendship of Adolf Hitler; another sister, Jessica, ran away to America and became a left-wing journalist, later writing The American Way of Death. Her case has not been helped by her subject-matter, for the milieu of the wealthy upper classes and their deep-rooted snobbishness and casual bigotry is one that might easily repel a reader who misses the irony, satire and the surfacing of darker concerns that characterise the books. A shame, for she is one of the true originals of modern English writing. --Burhan Tufail

About the Author

Born into one of the aristocracy's more eccentric families and educated at home with a clutch of siblings, Mitford used childhood experience, lightly fictionalised, in her comic novels. She also wrote biographies, translated from the French and edited a celebrated symposium on English Aristocrats.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
I agree with both the two very different reviewers here, but would like to add that the writing is sublime, and the emotions completely heartfelt, especially the end of Linda's story. Yes, the family is aristocratic, snobbish and enamoured of hunting, but they're also loving, witty and close ranks whenever anyone tries to prise them apart - so they're not all bad! This is one of those books that you can return to again and again (I had to buy the hardback edition because of that!) and it's still magical, moving and funny.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By sarah.allatt@vf.vodafone.co.uk on 22 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
My favourite book since I was twelve. Follow the fortunes of an eccentric English aristocratic country family whose father - "Fa" buys a new car whenever he thinks they are having a financial crisis. The children are obsessed by sex and discuss it endlessly in the "Hon's cupboard" - the only warm place in the house. This book has littered my whole life with quotes and is so well-thumbed it is positively dog-eared and has been dropped in the bath endlessly. Just get yourself a copy - it will be a friend for life.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Secret Spi on 25 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
I remember Nancy Mitford's novels being read avidly by girls at school but I never got round to reading them until now. I am not sure what my teenage self would have made of them but I'm certainly glad that I've caught up with this extraordinary writer.

Although set in a time and society that is distant to most of us, there is an enchanting freshness and immediacy about these stories. They are simply buzzing with charm and wit. The first of the novels, "In Pursuit of Love", has its strength in the characterisation with two of the most hilarious but utterly believable characters I have ever encountered: the bluff Uncle Matthew and the marvellous "Bolter". Almost every line from these two is priceless. "Love in a Cold Climate" continues with the same narrator and characters and is a far more polished work in terms of structure and plot.

The final novel in this collection, "The Blessing", was perhaps the one I enjoyed most of all, its central theme being the culture clash when an English Rose marries a dashing Frenchman.

My only criticism of this edition of these novels is that, while this collection offers good value for money, the print is a little small to read. In addition, I read the three novels one after another which was rather like having three stiff Gin & Tonics in a row: maybe a little too much of a good thing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 20 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Technically `Love in a Cold Climate' is a sequel to the wondair (those of you who love Mitford will know what I mean) `The Pursuit of Love'. Told once again through the eyes of Fanny who narrated its predecessor we follow the story of the beautiful and perfect Polly Hampton from their childhood friendship, through to their `coming out'(no, not that sort) and onto a rather scandalous relationship that she then embarks upon. As this all goes on we are once again given an insight into the society of the 1930's between the wars. Women's roles are still to be somewhat submissive and the aim of a lady's life is to find a suitable husband, it does seem odd to think that this was actually not that long ago.

It has been said, including by the authors sister who writes the introduction to my edition, that `Love in a Cold Climate' was very much a rather autobiographical fictional piece. Uncle Matthew being very much like Nancy's father and the children seeming to have all the traits of her sisters even down to the gang they called `The Hons'. What I love about all of Nancy's writing (and I have also been reading the letters between her and Evelyn Waugh alongside) is her sense of humour. Some may find the setting rather twee or even irritating as she describes the naivety of the children, which soon becomes hilarious cheek and gossip, and the pompous nature of the adults in the society that Fanny and Polly frequent, I myself haven't laughed so much at a book in quite some time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Well Read VINE VOICE on 29 May 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After many years since first reading Love in a Cold Climate, meeting Nancy Mitford's beguiling, hilarious, characters again, is a laughter fest. Surprises there are midst the intrigue. Who could forget the unexpected transformation of posh, stuffy, Lady Montdore by zany, camp, Cedric Hampton? Or charming, lecherous, womaniser Boyd Douglas, who is much more than he seems to be. This Penguin edition is particularly good value with the inclusion of In Pursuit of Love, and The Blessing, three of Nancy Mitford's memorable novels. For night owls they won't cure insomnia, they will though captivate, make you laugh, and make wish there were more. Which there are, if you search Amazon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Davison on 26 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
I read Nancy Mitford's four most famous novels when I was young, and enjoyed them immensely, but over the years began to regard them as "light" (in the pejorative sense) mainly because that's what even many of her fans say. Reading biographies by Selina Hastings and Laura Thompson encouraged me to pick up the first two novels again, and what struck me this time round is how extremely well-written they are. Nancy may not be weighty, but at this stage of her career there is nothing inferior about her style. "Love in a Cold Climate" is a tour de force, where almost every word counts.

Laura Thompson makes the point that Nancy's books were hugely successful in France precisely because they were light. In Anglo-Saxon culture "light" is what you do when you can't do "heavy". In French culture lightness is a quality to be admired, not denigrated. I love it. I can't quite see how anyone could read the description of Lady Montdore curtseying before royalty and not be utterly seduced by Nancy Mitford's comic genius.

The one weakness in the book is Fanny, or rather her completely unconvincing marriage. We are told how perfect Alfred is, and then we meet this charmless, whingeing bore of a husband, who never has a good word to say. A reflection, perhaps, on the lack of domestic love in Nancy's own life.

But hey, I can forgive this. I laughed throughout the rest.

I suspect that people who have a problem with this book are stuck in a 60s time warp, and believe it is morally necessary to loathe the upper classes, even infra dig to have a sense of humour about them.

I don't agree with the PC merchants: I would rather laugh with Nancy Mitford than feel worthy while emoting with John Osborne.
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