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Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford Paperback – 17 Sep 2007
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she is not only sharp, but gossipy, frank, hilarious and tender... an inspired commentary on the times (Sunday Times)
/The enthralling letters by the most idiosyncratic, witty and irrepressible sisters of one of the most notorious families of the 20th century: Decca (Jessica) Mitford.See all Product description
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Despite far more than her fair share of tragedy and upheaval, what emerges is a woman who faced life with courage, humour, conviction and honesty. From a very early age she rebelled against her aristocratic background, running away to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and then America, where she married radical lawyer, Robert Treuhaft, having joined the Communist Party during the McCarthy era, which also signalled decades of civil rights activism.
The letters in this book cover her very early years up to her death. I was most interested in the letters she exchanged with her mother and sisters, and realised as I worked through this book that I might have been better off reading a biography about the family. Indeed I think this book would be most suitable for someone who has already got a good understanding of Jessica's own story and that of her family. That said, Peter Y. Sussman who edited this book, provides a helpful introduction to each section, in addition to numerous useful explanatory footnotes - it must have taken him ages!
This book contains many wonderful letters which are well worth reading if you are interested in Jessica Mitford, and it is probably most suitable for readers who have already read her other works and want to dig deeper.
The letters in this book cover her very early years up to her death and show her to have been a fearless campaigner for left wing causes often overcoming her targets through her corruscating wit as much as through the courts of law.She proved herself to be an investigative journalist of some genius, her most famous book being 'The American Way of Death' by which she almost single handedly detroyed the cant surrounding the American funeral industry.
This is a long book but a total page turner and even when writing about people and subjects unknown to me kept me enthralled.However, I found the letters she exchanged with her sisters the more interesting reflecting her ambivalent attitude towards her English family.
These are wonderful letters from a woman who faced life without fear and I found the ones she wrote when she knew she was dying particularly moving.
Jessica Mitford was an active participant in the anti-racist movement and the communist party in the US. It seems only her indomitable spirit and sense of humour kept her going through the anti-American witch-hunting inquiries of the 1950s and the own personal tragedies of her family. These letters are both touching and shocking and a must for anyone who has enjoyed the writings of any of the Mitfords.
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