2010: 28. The Mitfords

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, Charlotte Mosely, ed.

      I really enjoyed this book, more than I had expected too.  It’s a collection of letters between the famous “Mitford girls”, and while I find them to be fascinating, generally (One’s a Nazi*! One’s a Commie! One’s a famous author! One’s a Duchess!), I didn’t think I’d end up caring enough to read all 800 pages of their letters.  In fact, I found them to be un-put-downable.  To read the sister’s reactions to the things that happened to them - Unity’s obsession and friendship with Hitler (and subsequent suicide attempt when England declared war on Germany), Diana’s time in prison during the Second World War, since she and her husband, Oswald Mosely were the leaders of the British Union of Fascists (and also good friends with Hitler), Nancy’s books being published (oh my lord, if you haven’t read Love in a Cold Climate or The Pursuit of Love, you must), Deborah becoming the Duchess of Devonshire - that alone would be fascinating.  However, even more interesting is watching their relationships change and shift as time passed.  

       My take away was poor Jessica - author of The American Way of Death, and let’s face it, the best of them, at least politically - who was really turned on by the others, after she ran away to America and became a leftist.  It turned her into an outsider, and they never really considered her one of them again.  Of course, it probably didn’t help that she decided, after the Second World War started that she would never speak to Diana, queen of the fascists again.  Politically principled, but can you imagine being able to follow through on such a thing? Don’t get me wrong - Diana and her husband had extremely offensive politics (they were married in Himmler’s apartment or somewhere equally appalling - and remained unapologetic), and Jessica’s 1) first husband was killed in action the Second World War and 2) second husband was Jewish, so you can see where she’s coming from.  But to (almost) never talk to a loved sister again - she was tough, and I can see how the other sisters would be hard on her.  But they were so mean in their letters - I hope she didn’t know how they really felt!


God, even if they weren’t famous (and they were really famous), the letters would be interesting just to watch the interactions of six sisters.  A great read.


Date/Place Completed:  June 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Non-Fiction

*Well, two.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017