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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely enjoyable
I read this after reading Jessica Mitford's letters. I was intrigued by her and the Mitford family and this autobiography of her early years is a perfect companion to the letters.

If someone told you this was a novel you would probably believe it, very easy to read and full of strange, weird and wonderful characters. It's easy to think that this is some work...
Published on 6 Jan 2008 by Nick Sydenham

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Life as an aristocratic daughter
This was an interesting acount of a child's growing up with diehard aristocratic parents. Most interesting was her rebellion against them and her journeying around France and America living from hand to mouth although we never really know if they wear ever starving. Almost like reading a childish fairy tale.
Published 4 months ago by Ennis Bartman


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely enjoyable, 6 Jan 2008
This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
I read this after reading Jessica Mitford's letters. I was intrigued by her and the Mitford family and this autobiography of her early years is a perfect companion to the letters.

If someone told you this was a novel you would probably believe it, very easy to read and full of strange, weird and wonderful characters. It's easy to think that this is some work of fiction. If you're new to Jessica (Decca) Mitford, I would recommend this as a starting point and then follow it with her letters. My next Mitford-related purchase will be the letters between the six sisters when it's released in paperback.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The spirits of the Mitfords, war, and politics clash, 17 Jan 2009
By 
This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
This is a fantastic autobiography. It begins with Jessica's early years at home with her family, the eccentric Mitfords. Every character comes vividly to life under her pen - her sardonic mother and fiery father, and each of her larger-than-life sisters: witty Nancy, headstrong Diana, conservative Pam, Hitler-obsessed Unity, romantic and wistful Deborah - and their often-overlooked brother Tom. Such strong and entertaining personalities make for hilarious reading.

Jessica successfully carries the reader through into the days when this eccentricity becomes something more ominous and oppressive. She strongly questions her family's devoted loyalty to Conservatism, Fascism and Hitler's Nazi Germany, instead feeling very much on the side of liberal Communism.

She runs away to the war against Franco in Spain with her spirited cousin Esmond, whom she later marries. Their exploits in France, Spain and America, living a hand-to-mouth existence and taking every lucky opportunity, make up the rest of the book, with witty and lively character portraits interspersed with poignant remembrance of her family and deep, educational discussion of politics.

Despite the heavy presences of war and politics, the book is never weighed down, though there was always a sadness in my mind that Esmond was killed shortly after the experiences detailed here. The four photos helped bring these experiences to life and allowed the reader to put names to the faces they must surely come to admire and love throughout the course of Jessica's tale. Highly recommended.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly recommend, 9 Oct 2010
This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
The first half of Hons and Rebels will be familiar to you if you've read Nancy Mitford's books, with vague Muv and roaring Farve, debutante balls, cold houses and all that.

But the second half is something else: it's 1930s Europe (including Britain) and the US, observed by someone witty, engaged and entertaining, who has the enormous advantage of being born into the incestuous British ruling class, but who can't accept the status quo.

This combination of personality and accident of birth -- along with the witty, honest writing style -- is what makes the book so special. It enables her to save hundreds of pounds (this in the 1930's) without ever getting a job, and then get Winston Churchill's charismatic, anti-fascist nephew, who happens to be her cousin, to take her with him to Spain. British reporters travel to the Basque Country just to report on the scandal of the runaway Peer's daughter, even as the Germans bomb Guernica. Later, she and her cousin Esmond get away with behaviour that would probably land a less well-connected person in the dock for theft.

I unintentionally tripled my knowledge of the political climate just before WWII in a few pages. Ms Mitford doesn't write as an expert or a historian, but as someone who was unusually well-connected, observant and engaged. Her point of view is unique in my experience. If she had been a man she would have been more active, and quite likely have been killed. If she had been a woman more like her mother or most of sisters, she would have devoted herself principally to incubating more aristocrats, perhaps with some memoirs or a novel or two to keep herself occupied.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 29 Jun 2011
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
"Hons and Rebels" is a hilarious account of an eccentric upper-class upbringing, an insightful analysis of the author's emotional and moral development from childhood to adulthood, a fascinating portrait of inter-war politics, and finally an exhilarating and moving love story.

For those familiar with the story of the Mitford sisters this is still an essential read: well-written and filled with anecdotes and shrewd insights. For those who know nothing of the author or her family, I recommend jumping right in and letting Jessica's story unroll.

In later life Jessica became established in America as a journalist and Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking (New York Review Books Classics), a collection of her journalism is a brilliant companion to her autobiography. Also recommended are Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford and The Mitford Girls, a readable biography of the whole family.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Jessica, 24 Dec 2011
This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
Even if one takes the reservations expressed by her less sympathetic sisters about the strict truthfulness of some events this autobiographical book, it is impossible to miss the essential truthfulness of this amazing woman, who in one lifetime somehow offsets the awfulness perpetrated by two other sisters. The book is readable, sometimes very funny and at all times deeply interesting. The 'Mitford girls' were certainly famous in their day and still command attention but of the six girls, only three did anything to further the sum of human happiness: Nancy through her writings; Debo through her work opening up Chatsworth for the hoi polloi to enjoy what the hoi oligoi had done for a couple of centuries and her writings; but Jessica caps the lot. Her writing sparkles whether in her politically motivated books, her autobiog or her letters AND she devoted time and energy (and not a little courage) to battle against the many wrongs in twentieth-century US such as the civil rights issues in California and beyond. Her second husband-to-be began a poem in praise of the young woman he wanted to marry: "Hoist a glass to dauntless Decca..." This book shows how where she came from enabled her to grow up and demonstrate such levels of courage, such elan and such wit.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and informative biography, 29 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
This biography of Jessica Mitford tells the true story of a family heavily satirised in Nancy Mitford's novels. Part comedy, part history book and part love story - the complexities of the time are fully explored including the role of Nazism and Communism in real people's lives
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 July 2014
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This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
A good read
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3.0 out of 5 stars Life as an aristocratic daughter, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
This was an interesting acount of a child's growing up with diehard aristocratic parents. Most interesting was her rebellion against them and her journeying around France and America living from hand to mouth although we never really know if they wear ever starving. Almost like reading a childish fairy tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hons and Rebels, 12 April 2013
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This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
Having just read Letters between Six Sisters, Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels is proving almost as fascinating, especially since learning about their lives in intimate detail and the family's opinions about Hons and Rebels before and after it was published.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Mitford book I have read., 29 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels (Paperback)
I have read several books about this fascinating familybut Jessica Mitford tells how it really was(her elopement with her cousin and their marriiage) and she relates a day to day account of their initial flight to Spain and subsequent adventures in the U.S.
A delightful read-nothing held back-I grew really fond of Jessica.A sad ending but I knew that was coming yet that fact did not diminish my enjoymant of the book as a whole.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyys reading about real people,in real situations,related with such appealing candour and honesty.
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Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels
Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels by Jessica Mitford (Paperback - 20 Jun 1999)
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