- Also check our best rated Romance Book reviews
The Pursuit of Love Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
|New from||Used from|
|Paperback, 4 Mar 2010||
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Utter, utter bliss (Daily Mail)
About the Author
Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was born in London, the eldest child of the second Baron Redesdale. Her childhood in a large remote country house with her five sisters and one brother is recounted in the early chapters of The Pursuit of Love (1945), which according to the author, is largely autobiographical. Apart from being taught to ride and speak French, Nancy Mitford always claimed she never received a proper education. She started writing before her marriage in 1932 in order 'to relieve the boredom of the intervals between the recreations established by the social conventions of her world' and had written four novels, including Wigs on the Green (1935), before the success of The Pursuit of Love in 1945. After the war she moved to Paris where she lived for the rest of her life. She followed The Pursuit of Love with Love in a Cold Climate (1949), The Blessing (1951) and Don't Tell Alfred (1960). She also wrote four works of biography: Madame de Pompadour, first published to great acclaim in 1954, Voltaire in Love, The Sun King and Frederick the Great. As well as being a novelist and a biographer she also translated Madame de Lafayette's classic novel, La Princesse de Clèves, into English, and edited Noblesse Oblige, a collection of essays concerned with the behaviour of the English aristocracy and the idea of 'U' and 'non-U'. Nancy Mitford was awarded the CBE in 1972.
Zoë Heller is the author of three novels: Everything You Know; Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003; and The Believers.
93 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Needless to say, the Radletts all seem to be, in varying degrees, slightly mad. Uncle Matthew is a blustering tyrant who despises foreigners, the nouveau riche, Catholics and people who say 'notepaper', 'mirror' and 'perfume' instead of 'writing paper', 'looking glass' and 'scent'; one of his favourite activities is hunting his own children with bloodhounds. While Aunt Emily insists on sending Fanny to school, Uncle Matthew refuses to allow his daughters any kind of education.
What's slightly odd about The Pursuit of Love is that it seems to begin very much as Fanny's story, but then it becomes clear that the focus of the narrative will be the Linda, the second-oldest Radlett sister. We see Linda fall in love with a wealthy banker her father hates and whose own family are horrified by her aristocratic naivety about money and her complete inability to understand why her husband needs any sort of career. After Linda almost dies giving birth to a baby she actively despises and wants nothing to do with, it becomes clear that her marriage can't possibly last - and from that point on we watch Linda embark on a series of relationships with desperately unsuitable men on both sides of the English Channel, as the Second World War looms.
The benefit of having the story narrated by Fanny rather than Linda herself is that Fanny, despite her closeness to the Radletts, is just enough of an outsider to be able to see them from a more objective viewpoint - plus, the parallels between Linda and Fanny's own mother give Fanny's perspective an extra dimension. It's also important that Fanny has, unlike her cousins, been educated and seen at least a little of life outside Alconleigh. It's Linda's complete lack of any occupation or friends beyond the Radlett circle that lead to her meeting and falling for her first husband in the first place, although Linda herself is apparently unable to see this. The pursuit of love is all that Linda has to look forward to, and it's really no wonder that she approaches each of her relationships with such childlike idealism.
The Pursuit of Love is without a doubt very funny, and often the fun poked at the Radletts is affectionate - but there is sometimes a more satirical undertone to the humour. There's a strong suggestion that this kind of aristocracy between the wars is a dying breed, and that they might just be responsible for their own downfall. The writing is razor-sharp and the dialogue is perfection; this is a book full of wit and sparkle. And yet despite that, there's a genuine sense of tragedy to it too and a very real sadness - the closing line, which comes from Fanny's own absent mother, is incredibly bittersweet.
First published in 1945, this witty and (seemingly) light novel is full of wicked humour and is written with Nancy Mitford's tongue placed firmly in her cheek, and providing you take it in the spirit with which it was written, makes for enjoyable and entertaining downtime reading. However, satire and humour aside, this tale, like Ms Mitford's own life, has its darker undertones and the final few pages of this novel illustrate this only too well. In the companion novel to 'The Pursuit of Love' (Love in a Cold Climate) we meet up with Fanny and some of the Radlett family again, and Fanny's story continues in a third novel:Don't Tell Alfred, both of which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing sometime soon.
It’s insightful, quirky and amusing....in some ways the family itself is unrealistic and little time is spent on those children that stray from the fold but this doesn’t detract from its charm.