Nancy Mitford’s most enduringly popular novel, The Pursuit of Love is a classic comedy about growing up and falling in love among the privileged and eccentric. Mitford modeled her characters on her own famously unconventional family. We are introduced to the Radletts through the eyes of their cousin Fanny, who stays with them at Alconleigh, their Gloucestershire estate. Uncle Matthew is the blustering patriarch, known to hunt his children when foxes are scarce; Aunt Sadie is the vague but doting mother; and the seven Radlett children, despite the delights of their unusual childhood, are recklessly eager to grow up. The first of three novels featuring these characters, The Pursuit of Love follows the travails of Linda, the most beautiful and wayward Radlett daughter, who falls first for a stuffy Tory politician, then an ardent Communist, and finally a French duke named Fabrice. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A 20th century Jane Austen
By Sarah Dixie Laite - June 21, 2011
It's hard for me to imagine a reader NOT liking, much less not adoring, Nancy Mitford's two great novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. I usually read non-fiction, and come to most novels warily as I've been too-often disappointed in what turned out to be trite, dull or just relentlessly unengaging. From the first chapter I was hooked on Mitford, and I've become a fervent evangelist ever since. Her prose is fantastic, her characters really come to life (Uncle Matthew is a favorite), and the subtle humor is, well, delightful seems the best word, in that her take on life seems full of delight -- at human foibles, goodness and ridiculousness. I loved this book, and loved Love in a Cold Climate as much if not more.
Anyway, the book is, and is likely to remain, one of my favorite novels of all time. I sorely wish I'd read it as a young woman; I think my life might actually have gone differently, that's how inspired I am by Ms. Mitford's perspective and the... read more
Do We Marry for Love, or for "All This?"
By Stephanie DePue - January 25, 2012
"The Pursuit of Love," is among the most popular novels written by blue-blooded British author Nancy Mitford who was very popular in the earlier twentieth century. If you consider England between first and second world wars, few girls were as famous as the Mitfords, five beautiful daughters of a well-known upper class "county family" as the British would call them. Nancy, writer of the family, knew her debutante balls well. In fact, she later came up with a way to define English social class by defining speech as "U"for upper class; and "non-U" for those who weren't.
The Mitford girls were "brought up to marry,not fall in love," Nancy once wrote. Unfortunately, of the actual Mitford girls, only one did as she was expected to do. Deborah (Debo) married the eleventh Duke of Devonshire. Unity, however, hung around Germany, striking up warmer friendships with the Nazis, and expressing herself more forcefully in their support, than suited the British public. Diana went and... read more
Brilliantly Entertaining Comedy of Manners
By Antoinette Klein - September 11, 2011
Nancy Mitford was a bright literary light who came of age between the two World Wars. Her large and wildly eccentric family has been renamed the Radletts and is the foundation for this opening installment of a trilogy dealing with an English family on the brink of WWII.
The narrator is Fanny, a niece abandoned by her fun-loving parents who had no desire to be bound by a child. Her mother, always referred to as The Bolter, makes rare appearances in Fanny's life and none so significant as when she delivers the final line of this novel, one of the best I can recall to close out a tale.
The characters and the story are seen through Fanny's eyes and she recounts their trials and tribulations with a frank and conversational tone that puts you firmly at home at Alconleigh, their cold and sparsely decorated ancestral home. Most notable amongst the characters is Linda, who flits from man to man in a self-centered and very worldly lifestyle that is both repelling and at... read more
Manhattan, Thanksgiving eve, 1945. The war was over, and Eric Smythe's party was in full swing. All his clever Greenwich Village friends were there. So too was his sister Sara - an independent, canny ...