- Paperback: 830 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; UK ed. edition (5 May 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1841157740
- ISBN-13: 978-1841157740
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.8 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters Paperback – 5 May 2008
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‘A novelist would never get away with inventing this: a correspondence spanning eight decades, written from locations including Chatsworth and Holloway Prison, between six original and talented women who numbered among their friends Evelyn Waugh, Maya Angelou, J. F. Kennedy and Adolf Hitler.’ J. K. Rowling
‘A glorious portrait of a six-way, life-enhancing, lifelong conversation.’ Sunday Times
'The Mitfords are all competitively exasperating…but slowly, cumulatively, as age and death are stared gallantly in the eye, I ended in tears.' Guardian
‘Absorbing, funny and often very moving…a remarkable story of six remarkable personalities.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator
‘Here, for the first time, are the six women’s own voices booming out from the tomb and across the decades…telling their extraordinary stories, which…is also the story of the twentieth century, told from the front row.’ India Knight, Sunday Times
‘Brilliantly entertaining…and a profoundly moving experience.’ Sunday Telegraph
'An anthropologist’s treasure…Every sister, whether a professional writer or not, has an extraordinary natural talent for narrative: for observation, reflection, jokes, dialogue and description, and deploys it with unfailing energy.' The Times
'”The Mitfords” is a thrilling and moving, funny and serious book. Here is a story of a family, of loyalty, love, humour, tragedy and, at times, chilling deception, a tale that sometimes amuses and horrifies, but always fascinates.' Daily Telegraph
‘The roars and shrieks, the jokes and the teases bounce across every page of this hugely enjoyable book.’ Evening Standard
‘The enduring fascination of this family comes not only from the larks and the society names but from the fact that the big currents of the twentieth century – fascism and communism, wars and death – washed through their lives.’ Financial Times
‘Funny, sad, outrageous and impeccably edited…it never flags for a moment.’ Mail on Sunday
The never-before published letters of the legendary Mitford sisters, alive with wit, affection, tragedy and gossip: a charismatic history of the century's signal events played out in the lives of a controversial and uniquely gifted family. Nancy, the scalding wit who parlayed her family life into bestselling novels. Diana, the fascist jailed with her husband, Oswald Mosley, during WWII. Unity, a suicide, torn by her worship of Hitler and her loyalty to home. Debo, who adored pleasure and fun, and found herself Duchess of Devonshire. Pamela, who craved nothing more than a quiet country life. Jessica, the runaway, a communist and fighter for social change. The Mitfords became myth in their own time: the great wits and beauties of their age, they were immoderate in their passions for ideas and people. Virtually spanning the century, these letters between the sisters -- alternately touching and explosive -- constitute a superb social chronicle, and explore with disarming intimacy their shifting relationships. As editor Charlotte Mosley notes, not since the Brontes has a single family written so much about themselves, or been so written about.Their letters are widely recognized to contain the best of their writing.Mosley, Diana's niece, will select from an archive of 18,000, to which she has exclusive access. See all Product description
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The letters cover over 800 pages and it is a book you can dip into, reading various periods of history. The letters from Unity all bear the symbol of the swastika in this printed diary. An example from 29 March 1939 Unity to Diana: I had lunch with the Fuhrer on Sunday and Monday & he asked me to send you viele grusse [best wishes]. Both days he was in his sweetest mood particularly on Monday, he held my hand most of the time & looked sweet & said 'Kind [child]!' in his sympathetic way because he was so sorry about England and Germany being such enemies. However he said nothing but wonderful things about England...' There are many letters going into detail about meetings with Hitler and other high ranking people by Unity and Diana.
Interestingly, and given all the speculation that has existed concerning Unity Mitford shooting herself in the head: Letter dated 10 May 1941 Unity to Jessica, '...so I can explain it to you. You know I got shot in the head. . . ' Unity would never lie to her sisters so here she is stating that she was shot, not that she shot herself.
A very absorbing read all the way through, eye-opening in many places.
One could read the book from cover to cover or dip into it according to one's fancy, if already with more than a superficial knowledge of this rather special family. There is a huge amount of social history packed into these letters, yet often so personal and so poignant. I am particularly struck how Unity (or Boud) writes about her friendship with Herr Hitler : nobody (unless Albert Speer) has done more to humanise him for posterity. I am not altogether certain that he deserves this favour.
It is a wonderful book for dipping in and out of. Its eight hundred pages of letters between the six Mitford sisters, spanning eighty odd years is just right when you have the odd minute here or there. Or, like me, you could start reading like that and then get so hooked that you lug it around with you everywhere, devouring every last syllable and not being able to put it down. It was totally fascinating.
This is a eulogy to a time long gone and a unique social history which is told with wit, verve, passion, pathos and huge amounts of humour. The sisters' eccentric and unique personalities shine through with every line and it is just a total delight.
What I found particularly fascinating were the letters between Diana and Unity in the early thirties when Unity was in Germany as an avid fan of Hitler and Diana was a staunch supporter of her husband Oswald Mosley and his right wing politics. Not views I endorse, but nonetheless a completely different and compelling view of a turbulent and challenging time.
The letters have been well chosen and edited by family member Charlotte Mosley, a daunting task given that the sisters wrote to each other constantly, and the introductory pages and the use of well chosen photographs make this an extremely readable and comprehensive book.
An ideal christmas present as it is definitely a long lunch / roaring log fire / crisp walk / good book scenario - worth buying.
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