37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A truly mixed bag
, 2 Aug. 2008
This review is from: The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters (Paperback)
This is a difficult book to review. The editing is very well done. The layout it clear and the letters' contents are usually well annotated (though I wish this had been more continuous - should the reader be expected to remember that "Edwina" on page x is the same as that on page y, who is annotated on page z?)
The contents, though, are another matter. Despite some snippets of very interesting material, for example Unity's accounts of her meetings with Adolf Hitler, rather too many of the letters rarely rise above the mundane, superficial and vacuous. How interesting can it be, just reading that long-dead famous person dined with other long-dead famous person, page after page? Nancy's letters are a case in point. She clearly wrote far better prose than her sisters, but the level rarely rose above an obsession with her wardrobe and the weather.
This is, of course a function of the fact that these women were a product of their class and their age, and I have little interest in, or time for, any of them personally except Jessica, who actually made the effort to cut herself of from the shallowness and to work to actually make a difference. Too much of the time of the others was taken up by bemoaning their lot (only two servants, three houses etc.) or by listing their famous friends.
Only as late middle age drew upon the women did their letters (and punctuation!) improve. This is clearly an important source of material and needed to be put into the public domain, but for long stretches it is also truly disappointing.
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