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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 13 December 2013
This was a book club choice by one of our older members. Nancy Mitford always wrote extremely well and The Blessing is a rather good photograph in history of a period of life between the world wars. It captures Franco English relationships within the upper echelons of society rather well, though nowadays it would not be seen to be PC. Of course marriages to foreigners has always been thought to be rather outlandish as far as the British are concerned.
The Blessing is a rather awful little boy who plays his parents off against each other to his own benefit...but the best character is Nanny....who rules the household.
Out of date but an amusing read and an insight into another world
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on 11 June 2017
An enjoyable read....
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on 31 May 2009
"The Blessing" shows Nancy Mitford at her witty and stylish best. It follows the story of the marriage between Grace (English rose, charming and unsophisticated) and Charles Edouard (dashingly French, and too sophisticated for his own good) and their problems in settling down to married life together. Upper class French and English society are beautifully depicted with an insider's eye and a sharp wit. Grace finds herself very ill at ease with her new French relations, and appalled by some of the mores of the society she has married into. The situation is further complicated by Grace and Charles-Edouard's son Sigismonde (the blessing of the title) who realises that his life will be infinitely more interesting and comfortable if his parents divorce because he can thereby have the best of both worlds, the French and the English. He therefore does all he can to prolong their estrangement, with comic effect. A very charming and entertaining read.
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on 24 April 2002
I enjoyed this book so much that I will definitely be reading it again. That's high praise-if we only have time to read 3000 books in the average life span, I don't want to waste time re-reading novels. This book is worth the sacrifice of something else.
Nancy Mitford is a fantastic writer. The novel is dedicated to Evelyn Waugh and there are similarities in writing style. The prose is lyrical, but funny and sarcastic. The difficulties of being an Englishwoman married to a Frenchman are hilariously described, particularly in relation to the different attitudes to extra-marital affairs.
The novel is set post-war and was written in 1951. There are some telling comments about the status of America in the post-war world. For example:
"But the Americans hate the people who were on their side in the war. It's the one thing they can never forgive..."
Nancy Mitford writes from a particular political standpoint and "The Blessing", the couple's son, Sigi, provides an example of the danger of manipulation as he aims to keep his parents apart.
He creates misunderstanding for his own ends in a very calculating way. There is a link between his behaviour and the manipulation that goes on between adults and countries. The novel isn't politically correct, it is of its time but still rings lots of bells now. Grace realises that she has to make compromises, her husband comes to appreciate her, but does all end happily ever after? That's the mystery.
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on 22 July 2014
** spoiler alert ** Wow! This story had me hooked! It's a book that I read in 24hrs, and rarely put down! Mitford's writing has such a unique charm, that she pulls you into the world of these characters and then proceeds to shock and humour the reader with the character's antics.

Such is the skill of Mitford, that whilst I thought that Grace and Charles-Edouard were charming together yet incompatible, I spent the second half of the book longing for their reunion. From the beginning they seemed, to me at least, mis-matched as she is rather conservative in thoughts regarding relationships and he so openly-adulterous. We are on the side of Grace for the first part of the novel, and yet in Charle-Edouard's absence, I longed for them to be back together - realizing that none of the alternative potential spouses measured up. Because of this, the second half of the novel, whilst enjoyable, was torturous for me - particularly regarding Sigi's schemes. So desperate was I to see them back together that I almost detested that child! Whilst his notions were understandable, it was still incredibly infuriating!

Another aspect that I particularly enjoyed was that Mitford included references to characters in previous novels! With Pursuit of Love and Love In A Cold Climate, I expected there to be a fluent reference and connection between characters and places in both novels, but with The Blessing I was impressed that these references were still made despite the novel following a different circle of characters. Though brief, that they mentioned Fabrice when at the cemetery, meant that Mitford's Paris, indeed Mitford's world, became a more rounded Parisienne world. It was certainly something I enjoyed and appreciated.

The only reason I have not awarded this novel 5 stars is because I generally reserve that for books that have a lasting impression of changing my mind or inviting me to question themes of the book.

Nevertheless, this was a truly great read! Recommended! Of what I've read, my favourite of Mitford's novels so far!

Edit: This is my favourite Mitford novel!
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on 8 June 2000
'The Blessing' is just that -- a wonderfully funny book that combines the elegance of post-war France with thoroughly modern wit and social perspective. Infidelity, devious plots, fashion and family dramas all combine beautifully in Mitford's playful and enduring novel. I've read it over and over, laughing every time.
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Published in 1951, this was one of four novels Nancy Mitford published after WWII (she wrote eight novels, four before the war and four after). The other three post-war books were a loose trilogy, but this is the only stand alone novel published during this period and is a light hearted romantic comedy.

The novel begins during the war, when Grace, daughter of Sir Conrad Allingham, falls in love with the aristocratic Frenchman, Charles-Edouard de Valhubert. Although Grace is engaged to another man, she is swept off her feet by Charles-Edouard - who marries her and then goes off to fight in the war. Grace is left to live quietly in the country, where she gives birth to their son Sigismond, "the blessing" of the title. After the war, Charles-Edouard takes them off to France, but lives very much as a single man; flirting and carrying on romances with his mistresses.

What follows is a story of misunderstandings and a realisation of what Grace and Charles-Edouard mean to each other. Sigi is very much involved; attempting to make the most out of his parents admirers and to use the situation to his own purposes. Poor Grace is not given much sympathy, despite Charles-Edouard's pretty appalling behaviour, but this is full of Nancy Mitford's quite unsentimental humour and, considering her own lover was an aristocratic Frenchman, I assume that she knew what their poor wives had to put up with. Sharp, satirical and witty, this is a delightful later Mitford novel.
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on 1 June 2012
Nancy Mitford brings to life a section of society most of us will never visit never mind inhabit. But the characters engage you in all their problems. Would you react to your husband's philandering as Grace did? Have you any sympathy at all with the carryings on of the charming frenchman she married? Don't you hate the French but fall in love with all of them in the end? And Sigismond, The Blessing of the title is a wonderful creation who deserves a clout for the way he complicates the lives of everyone but aren't you cheering him on from the sidelines?. Cutting edge commentaries on behaviour of Brits, Americans & The French all delivered in elegant prose and a subtle command of our glorious english language.
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on 29 July 2010
This novel is up to the usual Nancy Mitford standard, with some absolutely hilarious moments. The differences between an 'English Rose' and her suave, sophisticated, thoroughly Parisian husband are nicely drawn. Their curse (oh, sorry, I mean the eponymous 'Blessing') is their child, concieved on their wedding night before the groom returns to the War, is a little horror. Without wishing to spoil the plot, I could hardly wait for the conniving, manipulative little so-and-so to get what he so richly deserves!

Buy it, you'll find it is still as amusing as when it was first written.
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As WW2 is beginning, Grace receives a visit from Charles-Edouard, an aristocratic French friend of her fiancé, Hugh. Within a month, poor Hugh has been dumped, Charles-Edouard and Grace have married and C-E has gone off to war. Finding herself pregnant, Grace goes off to live in her father’s country house, and waits seven long years for C-E to return. When he does, he promptly whisks Grace and the child, Sigi, off to France, where he divides his time between his wife and his mistresses. Eventually Grace leaves him, and the big question is will they get back together? Sigi is enjoying having two parents vying to spoil him most, so he sets out to do everything he can to keep them apart…

Pretending to be a satire, it’s actually a nice little fluffy romance of the type where the man is a worthless, faithless leftover from a dying breed, and the woman is a bucolic, intellectually-challenged leftover from another dying breed. Hmm… I’m struggling to think of anything to say about it, really. Not my kind of thing, as it turns out. The “insights” into French society feel about as realistic as Wodehouse’s England, but unfortunately the book lacks either the humour or good-natured charm of his work. I think it’s *supposed* to be funny though…

I skipped the last 40 pages because, you know, who cares if they get back together?
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