103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
A truly wonderful read - I'd like to give it 6 stars!
, 29 Oct. 2007
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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