The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London Hardcover – 10 Nov 2011
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A biography of the love affair between Nancy Mitford and the Free French commander who inspired her to write her most famous novel, The Pursuit of Love. Drawing on unpublished correspondence, this is a sympathetic and cautionary tale about falling for a philanderer (Sebastian Shakespeare TATLER)
This biography of Nancy Mitford's tumultuous post-war love affair with Gaston Palewski (immortalised in The Pursuit of Love as Fabrice de Sauveterre) paints a portrait of a relationship as agonising as it was intense, sweeping the reader up with conspiratorial ease (EASY LIVING)
Nancy Mitford was elegant, clever, witty and exceptionally beady-eyed about the world. So why did she have such awful taste in men? This is the subject of the historian Lisa Hilton's entertainingly caustic The Horror of Love... Her book is not just a crisply written account of their relationship but also something of a manifesto for a more pragmantic, Gallic approach to human relations (Daisy Goodwin THE SUNDAY TIMES)
Nancy Mitford was an English novelist with a glamour that surpassed even that of her aristocratic sisters. Her lover, Gaston Palewski, was a French politician who featured in disguised form in two of her novels. Their relationship became a tragedy. Mitford fans will love this book, of course, though it says so much more about the compromises and tragedies of love (CATHOLIC HERALD)
well paced and informative (EVENING STANDARD)
This is an account of Nancy Mitford's only real love affair and its title is taken from an exclamation she made to her sister Diana Mosley... it is a story with a delicious mix of drama, melancholy and enchantment (DAILY EXPRESS)
Nancy Mitofrd, aristocrat, author, waspish wit, first laid eyes on Gaston Palewski in 1942 and, for her, it was love at first sight that lasted a lifetime... but the great tragedy of Nancy's life was that to him, she was never "the one"... a compelling account of the 1944 liberation of France and the country's struggle to confront the collaboration... there is so much charm and drama to Nancy and Gaston's lives, embroiled as they were in the key events of the 20th-century (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
The charm of The Horror of Love is its bringing to life the worlds of Nancy Mitford's novels. Its portrait of upper-class postwar Paris, Palewski's femmes du monde extravagantly garbed in Dior's New Look, Mitford and Palewski's shared love of history, paintings and antiques, the glittering parties in splendid houses and the regular recurrence of the Duchess of Devonshire, will surely appeal to Mitford fans, in this book which delights in the more picturesque aspects of its subject. (Matthew Dennison THE INDEPENDENT)
Nancy Mitford - novelist, socialite, most gifted of the famous sisters - pursued a one-sided 30-year affair with French Resistance hero turned diplomat and minister, Gaston Palewski. Hilton's book brings a sharp historian's eye to glittering Paris and London backdrops as this impossible romance unfolds (i newspaper)
The compelling love story of two extraordinary individuals - Nancy Mitford and Free French commander Gaston Palewski - living in extraordinary times.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Hilton does a credible job of presenting both protagonists warts and all, and what a lot of warts both had! The descriptions of Palewski's appearance and traffic-stopping halitosis were especially frank. The author also takes the usual descriptions of Nancy's "talent to annoy" one step further, and details the viciousness, bitterness, and cruelty of which she was not only capable, but seemingly proud. I suspect that many of her famous prejudices (children, Americans, and her insistence that the two are interchangeable) may have started off as a tease, but later in her life, became ingrained and rather ugly.
Nancy Mitford's novels are wonderful romps, delightful to read, frothy and not particularly substantial. (Which doesn't mean I don't love them!) Her non-fiction works, particularly her biography of Mme. de Pompadour, are scrupulously researched and beautifully written.Read more ›
I feel she did not have enough research material to make this a really interesting account of the romance. Also I was not convinced by her character analyses of Palewski and why Mitford found him so spellbinding. On the one hand we are told she disliked Americans because they were so immature, yet she was obsessed with someone who's maturity could be questioned throughout the book. I felt after reading this book no different to when I read her earlier biography and that is how could such a talented writer like Nancy Mitford be obsessed with such a pathetic bore. I had hoped to be enlightened about the affair and learn something new, but sadly that was not the case
The main interest of this book for me was the filling in of Gaston's family, background and career, which makes this an essential addition to the Mitford Shelf. After the war he was never far from the centre of power, and probably the apogee of his career was to be the French Ambassador to Rome, where he lived in the Palazzo Farnese. Sadly Nancy was unable to enjoy this success as she was constrained to visit him there only occasionally and quietly, mainly in August, when no-one of any note is at home in Rome. Maybe Peter Rodd's refusal to grant Nancy a divorce for such an age actually protected her from what could have been a tragically unhappy marriage with Gaston?
Like Nancy, who disguised painstaking research with an effortless writing style, Lisa Hilton has written a fascinating and most readable book on the affair between Nancy and Gaston, and fleshed out Nancy's life in Paris following her move there after the war. For anyone with an interest in this period, it really is a must.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a valuable addition to the Mitford cannon - fluently written and the result of serious scholarly researchPublished 22 months ago by Viktor Wynd
This is more about French politics than Nancy, but there are some less-known details about her. A good serious read.Published 24 months ago by E. J. Holmes
I don't naturally read this sort of biographical literature on the 20th Century. But it's a very good story - not just about two people, their affair and their family - but about... Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2014 by Tom the reader
I loved this book. It was well researched, well written and brought the joy and sadness to life. Also very good on post war French politics about which I knew nothingPublished on 1 Sept. 2013 by Charlotte J. Bevan
The rather titillating title suggests the author will examine what exacty it was about Gaston Palewski (an ugly, self-obsessed man with halitosis, apparently) that made Nancy... Read morePublished on 20 May 2013 by helen
This woman somehow has a miserable existence with her somewhat uninterested lover. Although titled and moneyed she suceeds in making a spectacle of herself. Read morePublished on 25 Dec. 2012 by S. R. Hutchinson
This is a spirited book which traces the on-off love affair between Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski, a commander of the Free French, immortalised in Mitford's books as Fabrice de... Read morePublished on 24 Nov. 2012 by Roman Clodia
The book is beautifully presented and one cannot fault the overall presentation of the text and photographs, it makes a lovely collectors item for anybody besotted by the Mitfords. Read morePublished on 12 May 2012 by LS