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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a great story
This is a long book, and about a quarter of the way through it dragged a bit for a few chapters, but that is my only real criticism. I really enjoyed it - if it had been a fiction work, it would all have seemed a little far-fetched: how could one family be involved in so many of the key events of the 20th century? Close friend of Hitler, member of American Communist...
Published on 3 Oct 2004 by Michelle Scott

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mitford Madness...
None of them were very nice. Nancy sounds positively horrible; the fascists really needed their brains washing out - there simply isn't any excuse for writing 'I am a Jew-hater' to a national newspaper as if she expected a Dame-hood for it (Unity) or to be an apologist for the Nazi party right up until her death (Diana) . She may have been beautiful but she sure as...
Published 1 month ago by R. L. Delisser


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a great story, 3 Oct 2004
By 
Michelle Scott (Wellington New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This is a long book, and about a quarter of the way through it dragged a bit for a few chapters, but that is my only real criticism. I really enjoyed it - if it had been a fiction work, it would all have seemed a little far-fetched: how could one family be involved in so many of the key events of the 20th century? Close friend of Hitler, member of American Communist party, cousins of Winston Churchill, well-known authors, the Kennedy connection, owner and saviour of Chatsworth - they'll all in here, and the characters and family dynamics are all interesting and complex enough to keep you intrigued.......
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 9 July 2008
By 
R. Davies (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a well-researched and well-written work, highly interesting and engaging. I felt bereft when I came to the end of it! Lovell has an easy, fluid writing style that keeps the reader hooked.

Lovell makes every effort not to be biased or opinionated in respect of the extreme politics espoused by three of the sisters, and the result is a level and sensible account of their lives and times. If readers want a Hitler-bashing book, or an anti-Red manifesto, they must look elsewhere.

That Lovell managed to converse with three of the sisters as well as close relatives such as Bob Treuhaft, Dinky Romilly and Charlotte Mosley adds authenticity to this book and leads me to believe that this might be a definitive Mitford tome.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mitfords Girls and the Twentieth Century, 27 Sep 2002
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This has to be one of the most enjoyable biographies I have read for a long time. Although it's not a short book, it makes easy reading, written as it is in Mary Lowell's delightful style that is strongly reminiscent of Nancy Mitford's books. If you know her books, you'll love it for the insight into her life behind the books, particularly the girls' fascinating childhood; if you don't you'll be intrigued by the ups and downs of the family fortunes and their friendships with notable figures from Hitler to the Kennedys. This book is not just a biography of a famous and remarkable family, it is also a panoramic view of the history of the last century. Whatever happened, a Mitford was there - the war (both in Germany and Britain), the Communist movement, and so much more.
Reading biography is almost as much an art as writing one, in the way each reader relates personally to the characters with whom they become intellectually involved, and in the reading of this book it is easy to become very involved indeed and, unlike many biographies, it does not seem to fade away towards the end; Mary Lowell's writing retains our interest right until the close.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mitford Madness..., 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Mitford Girls (Kindle Edition)
None of them were very nice. Nancy sounds positively horrible; the fascists really needed their brains washing out - there simply isn't any excuse for writing 'I am a Jew-hater' to a national newspaper as if she expected a Dame-hood for it (Unity) or to be an apologist for the Nazi party right up until her death (Diana) . She may have been beautiful but she sure as hell wasn't a beautiful person.
Jessica got it about right by running away to the Spanish Civil War and never going back. Tom was probably gay so slept with lots of women to make up for it - as you do - and Pamela probably was a lesbian but the author really isn't prepared to challenge any of these people or our views of them, in print and the book is the weaker for it. Unity was mad and deluded. Only Deborah sounds relatively normal.
I have to say that fascinating though the family is, this book is rather a wasted effort. The sisters worth writing about have all written their own stories and those that have a biographer have been written about in far more depth and detail than Mary S Lovell manages here. There simply isn't enough room to do each one justice and very little attempt to comment or analyse. It's a bit of a soft-soap actually. Diana needed to be far more robustly dealt with but it seems Mary Lovell liked her and thereby let her off.
That the author missed the opportunity to meet Jessica who died before the book was mooted is a real loss - I wonder if she would have been quite such a fan of Diana if Jessica had been able to tell her story. She had such tragedy in her life I can't help wondering how she survived it.
It is an eye-opening read but then I think you should choose your most interesting sister and look for better researched accounts of their lives. I have.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - why read 5 books when one will suffice, 3 Oct 2001
By 
Mrs. D. Cox (Winchester, England) - See all my reviews
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I've been looking forward to this book for ages and it did not disappoint.
An independant look at all the sisters, including the less well known Pamela (and Jessica).
I could not put this book down. Reveals many unknown facts about the sisters and also about the influence that Hitler played amongst the family. Takes readers further through the lives of the Mitfords than many of the other books available.
Well worth the wait!
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavily biased account, 5 May 2010
By 
K. Larkins "Klar" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I have never written a review on Amazon before but was so annoyed by the authors biased account of the Mitford sisters that I felt I had to say something. This book is interesting purely because the Mitford sisters were interesting, not because this book is particularly well written.

The author is obviously very taken with Diana Mitford and gushes throughout. There is no criticism about Diana's support of fascsim or friendship with Hitler. The author tries to prevent the reader from judging the Moselys throughout and goes in to much detail about the hardship they faced in prison during the war years. I also find it strange that she never mentions Diana's opinion on Hitler's policies towards the Jews. We hear how Unity Mitford laughed when she learned that one leading Nazi had made a group of Jewish people mow a field of grass with their teeth. What did the Moselys think of this? How could they still like Hitler when stories like this were coming to light before the war?
I actually think this books does Diana a disservice because all we really hear about her is that she is beautiful and very much in love with Mosely. Surely there was more to her, good and bad.

I found the authors description of Decca Mitford harsh. Decca's support of the communist party is not forgiven nearly as easily as Diana's support of fascism. Decca gives birth to a stillborn daughter and people at the time commented that this could be due to Decca's communist activities. Instead of highlighting how hurtful and unfair this is the author comments that this just shows how much people don't like being told which political beliefs to hold.
Decca sounds like an inspirational woman, staying true to her politics throughout her life. Unlike Diana and Sydney she is also critical about her earlier beliefs and is far more self aware.
Both Decca's marriages sound loving and fulfilling yet these marriages are not given the great billing that the Mosely marraige is given (despite Oswald Mosely's many affairs).

It is a shame that the author is so biased because as I say they are a very interesting family. I can't help but think this book is so biased because Diana Mitford was still alive when the book was published. The author had met and very much liked Diana Mitford which really does colour her account of the sisters lives.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Introduction, 10 May 2007
Generally I don't like biographies; but I absolutely adored this book, it covers a huge subject - the lives of 6 remarkable women spanning much of the 20th Century. Mary Lovell has researched their lives and manages to convey the story wonderfully. Obviously because of the constraints of how large a book can actually be there maybe more detailed, individual biographies out there but I think this is a great place to start - it certainly has set me on the path to finding out as much as I can about these women who lived such glorious lives right at the forefront of history.

To give you a little taster there is:

Nancy - the famous author, in love with an aloof Frenchman.

Diana - the glamorous beauty who left her husband for the head of the British Nazi party (Oswald Moseley) and spent much of the second world war sleeping under a fur coat in a dank prison cell.

Decca - who ran off to fight on the communist side in the Spanish Civil & later became a prominent member of the Black civil rights movement in America.

Unity who fell in love with Hitler and tried to kill herself on the day war was declared between Britain and Germany. Hitler himself organised her return to Britain.

Debo - who declared when she was 6 that she wanted to be a Duchess and is the current dowager Duchess of Devonshire.

Pam - the farmer, my only complaint about this otherwise wonderful book is that Pam really gets very little coverage.

In addition to the sisters there are their parents who are deliciously eccentric characters of the sort that sadly no longer exists, their father in particular (seen as Uncle Mathew in "The Pursuit of love" and "Love in a cold climate") is hilarious - family legend has it that as a young man he read the novel "white fang" and was so impressed by it that he refused to ever read another novel as he felt he had read the best why bother with the rest.

I bought this book for myself and have subsequently given it to parents and friends and all of them loved it, and have gifted it to others in their turn. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 10 Feb 2002
By A Customer
I truly enjoyed this book about a spectacularly interesting family. It was such a page turner that I read it in two sittings. Decca, Debo, and Unity emerge as especially interesting figures. A tantalizing book that gives excellent insight into the history of the period, esp. Hitler and the second World War. I now want to go out and read the Mitfords' books, particularly Decca's study of the funeral industry in America. I had read anecdotes about the Mitfords in other biographies, but this one gave the full picture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Mitford family., 2 Mar 2013
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I have read more interesting books on the Mitford family, although not one on the whole family.I skipped a few pages to get it out of the way
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and evocative account of extraordinary people., 17 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Having read both Nancy and Jessica Mitford's books years ago I was very interested in this book. The extreme nature of Unity,Diana and Decca compared with the ordinariness of Pam, Debo and even to some degree Nancy is brought out very strongly.(Nancy was a very successful writer but was otherwise fairly conventional). The book is impeccably researched and captures its period very well, especially the thirties which was probably the most interesting decade in the sisters' lives. I suppose it was a period which led to extremes - perhaps this is one explanation of why in the same family the extremes of ardent Nazidom and Communism were found. In some ways I found the description of the lifestyle of the sisters unreal - when it is compared with the lot of most people in Britain at the time. But they were still a fascinating family. A very good read.
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The Mitford Girls
The Mitford Girls by Mary Lovell
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