2008: 80. The Blessing

“”The foreign gentleman seems to be in a terrible hurry, dear.’

And, indeed, the house, though quite large, what used to be called a family house, in Queen Anne’s Gate, was filled with sounds of impatience.”

The Blessing, Nancy Mitford

I found this at a yard sale, a less well known novel by the author of Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love, one of the famous “Mitford girls” (more famous in England then here, of course, but ridiculously interesting people - total upper class snobs who managed between the five of them to turn out one famous writer - that would be Nancy, one raging Communist/social reformer - that would be Jessica, one wife of Oswald Mosely, the head of the British Union of Facists - that would be Diana, one who killed herself because she loved Nazism and Hitler so much and the British were winning the war - that would be Unity, and one Duchess of Devonshire - that would be Debo).  Since I adored both the novels and tv adaptations of the above mentioned novel (and have also read the less well known sequel, Don’t Tell Alfred) I was pleased as punch to find another novel by Mitford.

The Blessing is the story of Grace, a beautiful but unsophisticated (and a little dim) British girl falls into a unexpected war time marriaged with an irresistible Frenchman, Charles-Edouard. They marry after two weeks, but because of the war, see each other only once in the next 7 years.  That one meeting produces a son, Sigismond, and when Charles-Eduoard returns, sweeping Grace and Sigismond off to France and a new life, Grace needs to come to terms with the husband she barely knows.  That means she needs to accept France, and more seriously, her very, very French husband who loves her, but not to the exclusivity of loving other women.  This would be troublesome enough, if young Sigi had not decided that he isn’t so sure he likes with growing up with two parents and not quite so much attention, and does about all he can to drive his parents apart. The marriage falls apart by degrees weighed down by Charles’s lifestyle, Grace's expectations and young Sigi’s machinations, but, being a novel of frivolity, all is righted in the end.

The novel is an absolute blast, in the vein of the Love books.  My one nitpick is that it is painfully obvious that Nancy, who lived her life in love with an unfaithful Frenchman, has bought into his version of fidelity hook line and sinker - Grace is never portrayed as anything but a rube for not accepting Charles-Edouard’s philandering ways as the French way of love.  Which maybe it is, but when you think of the way Nancy lived her own life, you wonder just who she was trying to convince.  Still, the novel is well written, funny, and light, and a great deal of fun.  If you find it, grab it!

Date/Place Completed: 5/12/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017