Tuesday, 8 May 2012

More Mitford

As the Mitford industry continues to churn out memoirs, biographies and volumes of letters Nancy Mitford's great novel Love in a Cold Climate is sometimes over-shadowed. As Jane Smiley puts it in her excellent 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel:
There is much more to her work, technically and substantively, than meets the eye, but if only the reader can stop wallowing in pleasure long enough to notice it.
Relayed by the clear-sighted and adorable Fanny we share her agonies about being house guest at Hampton, acutely aware of her uncontrollable hair and ill-fitting tweed skirt and fending off questions about her infamous mother the Bolter. We share her delight in the luxuries of Hampton, the copies of the Tatler in the long gallery, Cooper's Oxford (marmalade) in the breakfast room and the fashionable Mrs Chaddesley Corbett with her diamond clips and scandalous gossip. And of course, we share her love of the Alconleigh crowd; mad Uncle Matthew, hyperchondriac Davey and outrageous Jassy and Victoria. I re-read Love in a Cold Climate every five years or so and, as with the best novels, I read more into it each time.

This time I was struck by the sadness of Polly and her strained relationship with her mother, Lady Montdore. I'm very fond of my copy with its frozen rose on the cover, but I love some of the vintage editions on pinterest.

9 comments:

A Bookish Space said...

I have no excuse - I have all of Mitford's novels (including the recently re-issued ones) but have still yet to read a single one. At the beginning of the year I was planning on reading some Mitford, but haven't done so yet. Although there is still more than half the year to go ...

Darlene said...

Oh Nicola, you've made me want to call in sick so I can flop on the couch for a reread of my own! My edition is the pinkish one with the Cecil Beaton photo...the vintage copies are gorgeous.

Bellezza said...

"...wallowing in pleasure": what a marvelous phrase for a book! Or, even a book blog. ;) I've not read anything by Mitford so I thank you for this enticing post.

Ellen said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog! I've got "Love In A Cold Climate" on my must-read pile, did you happen to hear the programme on Radio 4 where Grace Dent declared it her favourite book?

lifeonthecutoff said...

I'm sorry to say that I have not yet read Love in a Cold Climate, though it has languished for what seems like forever on my to-be-read pile. Thanks for nudge.

Those vintage copies are fabulous.

Amy said...

I've had this on my TBR for years. I am so far behind!

LizF said...

I read Love in a Cold Climate years and years ago but even though I really loved it, I haven't re-read it though I still have my copy.
My copy has a TV adaptation cover and although it is still in good condition (I am VERY careful with my books)the shallow side of me is thinking that I really like the cover of your copy....

C.B. James said...

I like Ms. Smiley's comment quite a bit. I've enjoyed Love in a Cold Climate but not really noticed the actual writing all that much. Perhaps I was just having too much fun reading it.

Vintage Reading said...

A Bookish Space, you have a treat ahead of you! Please post about them.

Darlene, most Mondays it briefly occurs to me to call in sick and spend the day reading in bed. Then the reality of bills and mortgage hit me and I go to work!

Bellezza, yep Mitford novels are highly enjoyable, please post if you read one.

Hi Ellen, no I missed the programme, although I'm rather taken with Grace Dent and I love Radio 4.

LifeontheCuff, pinterest has some beautifully presented vintage editions. I'm getting quite addicted to that site!

Amy, so many books, so little time, I hear you!

LizF, yes, I think I have a TV tie-in copy somewhere, too. Yeah, I like aesthetically pleasing covers, but the text is the thing!

CB James, yes I believe Smiley is a novelist but I admire her as an extremely perceptive literary critic.