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Customer Review

103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful read - I'd like to give it 6 stars!, 29 Oct. 2007
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This review is from: Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters (Hardcover)
"Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters," is a truly wonderful read. I have just finished the 800-plus pages and wish very much that there were 800 more. I'd like to give it 6 stars, but dear old Amazon (whose price is a giveaway £14.95 instead of the RRP of £25.00) only permits one to praise to a point. I willingly go beyond that point and any buyer who is a little hesitant about getting the book for Christmas and/or adding more copies to the order for the rellies that are loved or hated - both types will appreciate it, even if they can't or couldn't stand the Mitford 'girls' - should go ahead right away.

I have read somewhere that Charlotte Mosley (daughter-in-law of Diana Mitford, aka Lady Mosley) had access to some 12,000 personal letters exchanged by the sisters over nearly eighty years and has only chosen to use 5% of them for the book. But what a literal hoard of literary treasure!

Mrs Mosley has selected well and edited superbly, bringing out and explaining with her own notes the deep and long-lasting relationships of the sisters, the context of their times, their humour and their eccentricities, their enthusiasm for words in several languages, their loves and their tragedies and, with the exception of the delightful and redoubtable Deborah, now the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the sadnesses of their passing.

The sisters have been described as "eccentric" and "maddening." Having read and enjoyed every one of their letters as published in this splendid work, I would be inclined to suggest that they were no more eccentric or maddening than the members of many families. But I suppose that their relatively privileged upbringing, their inclination to express themselves with confidence from an early age, their having the time to write so much - both letters and books - and the extraordinary array of celebrities with whom they mixed, all must have been major factors in how and why their lives were so "inter-esting" (or eccentric or maddening).

What were my conclusions? Well, first, I would have loved to have met any one of the ladies, though I would probably have become tongue-tied had a meeting happened. Second, my 'favourite' Mitfords are definitely Diana and Deborah, the former loyal to her late husband (Sir Oswald Mosley) to the last, and the latter clearly the most consistently loving and loved. And third, though it is often said and written that we shall never see such a correspondence again, I suggest that, even with Emails, provided they are filed, it is possible for our electronic means of communication to be preserved for future generations. I have done this with a distant relative and a pleasant (and private) little book is the result.

Finally, I wish to make it clear that I have no 'axe to grind' in praising "Mitfords": I am not and have not been related to or friendly with any of them and am merely reporting my opinion to a wider audience that this book is absolutely magnificent. Buy it now!
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jun 2008 19:33:33 BDT
What a lovely review. Thanks to your enthusiastic comments and recommendations, I shall buy the book. Have you read Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey? This includes the Devonshire family via the Fitzwilliams of Wentworth and is a truly fascinating read - again, bringing the 20th century alive with real stories and characters.


In reply to an earlier post on 6 Aug 2008 21:45:34 BDT
Thank 'ee very kindly, Ma'am!

Posted on 11 Feb 2009 17:01:13 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Feb 2009 17:01:52 GMT
R. C. Murray says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Feb 2009 18:14:04 GMT
I thought that my review might assist others in choosing books: there was and is no other motive nor intention!

Posted on 21 Nov 2010 14:03:51 GMT
CatherineB says:
Great review. Can't understand why one comment calls it advertising. Does that mean any enthusiastic review counts as an advert?

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2010 14:18:46 GMT
Thanks, Catherine. I couldn't understand that one either!

Posted on 8 Dec 2010 19:46:07 GMT
R. C. Murray says:
Geoffrey, I have to admit that maybe I was suffering from rage blackouts when I wrote that comment about your review - and MAYBE (just maybe) I came across as slightly demented... *cough* But I was so disappointed by this book (as a fan of Love In a Cold Climate and Diary of a Muckraker etc.) I just could not BELIEVE (!) that anyone could give it five stars without having an ulterior motive.
Almost 2 years have passed now, and I have calmed down a bit - so I would just like to apologise for making baseless accusations about your character.


In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2010 21:49:29 GMT
You're very generous and very thoughtful, R.C. Murray, and I wish you the happiest of Christmases and the most prosperous of New Years. Your, etc., Geoffrey Woollard.
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Location: South East Cambridgeshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 98,844