Monday, September 5, 2016

The Mitfords: A Remarkable Family

Growing up before WWII at the top of Britain's aristocratic society, girls were destined to be the wives and mothers of the next generation. Some of the Mitford girls tried this avenue, but it was too narrow for their political ideas.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the six girls is the diversity of their political leanings. Unity was a close friend and admirer of Hitler. She committed suicide when Great Britain declared war on Germany. Diana left her traditional family to become the wife of Oswald Mosley, head of the Fascist party in Britain. Jessica was a Communist sympathizer and member of the American Communist Party. Nancy was a novelist whose novels depict the upper-class before WWII. Deborah became the Duchess of Devonshire and was instrumental in restoring Devonshire house.

The diversity of the girls lives and interests reads almost like a novel. Even the parents and grandparents were unusual characters. I enjoyed the portion of the book recounting their exploits. To highlight manners and morals of upper-class society, the author contrasted Nancy's book, The Pursuit of Love, which was largely drawn from her own family, to highlight the way the way this eccentric family interacted.

Although I enjoyed the book, I found some parts difficult to follow. The author jumps around giving time to each sister and the parents. I also found the book quite repetitious. Some of this is due to the use of Nancy's book to illustrate the lives of her family. We end up reading essentially the same things more than once. The author is also quite intrusive breaking into the narrative to offer her own opinions. However, if you are interested in the Mitfords, this book is very comprehensive and presents a good background for their way of life.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.