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2.0 out of 5 starsThe Kindle version is heinous
Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2019
This is not for the content, which so far is great, but is instead a big warning to anyone considering getting the Kindle version. I am only on page 5 and am already so frustrated. The pictures at the start were half mislabled with the preceding or following pictures' captions, and now the prose itself frequently either repeats part of the previous sentence when going from one page to the next, or is missing an entire sentence in that same transition. I think I shall keep reading it, but it's deeply irritating and may prevent me from finishing. If I need to buy a hard copy to finish, I will, but I'll get it from Ebay since Amazon just took over ten bucks from me for this rubbish.
4.0 out of 5 starsA Family Reflective of the Passing of One Age Into Another - Turmoil and Beautfy!
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2014
Nine personalities have their say in this biography. Nine basically decent people, though a couple went down paths we can only find reprehensible now. This is an even-handed biography, and it focuses on the personal rather than the bigger political scene. However I may think Unity had rocks in her head for adoring Hitler, Mary Lovell reminds me that fascism had a lot of fans at the time and could be mistaken for nationalism or simply anti-communism (which was much mistrusted by the Mitfords' genteel class). This isn't an excuse, it is a reason. You can't hope to understand someone until you explore why they may have done something.
Unfortunately for the Mitford girls, their father refused to educate them further than a finishing school, though a couple of them begged. To be energetic, intelligent and bored can make for some interesting choices, which certainly makes for interesting reading.
The mores of the time are shown by the story of Decca's dancing classes. She was 9 years old: "In the summer of 1926 to Decca's delight - she was always trying to get away from home - she was allowed to join dancing classes held in the homes of neighbours.... Decca, dressed in organza party frock and cashmere shawl, was taken to classes by Nanny every Wednesday. This pleasant occupation came to an abrupt end when she took the opportunity between dances to tell some of her contemporaries how babies were conceived and born. 'The telling was a great success,' she recalled. 'particularly as I couldn't help making up a few embellishments as I went along.' A week or so later, Syndey [Decca's Mother] sent for her, having received complaints from parents that their children were disturbed by what Decca had told them..... Decca wrote... 'The enormity of my ill-advised act... was such that years later, when I was a debutante of seventeen, I learned from an older cousin that two young men of the neightbourhood were still forbidden to associate with me.' "
And that was just the start of the trouble the unrepentant Decca delighted in. But for all that the sisters occasionally looked for trouble, they also sometimes seemed to just drift into controversy. Their social class gave them wide access to movers and shakers, their beauty insured that they were always news.
The last Mitford sister alive is the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, best known as the chatelaine of Chatsworth, one of the most beautiful manor houses in England. One of the last stories in the book is how she and her husband saved Chatsworth as a family estate, when so many big houses were lost to estate and wartime taxes.
I don't read a lot of biographies, but I'm glad I picked this up. Very interesting reading of an era soon to become ancient history.
5.0 out of 5 starsA great story told by a great author.
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2017
There is so much story here, so much to tell, it would seem impossible to write a book, to decide what to leave out. The author surely could have written a book ten times longer with much less effort. The evenhandedness in telling the tales of the different sisters must have been a challenge too. Nazism, communism, fascism. The sisters embodied history. I felt outraged more than once while reading. The evil of Jessica, the personal level evil of trying to destroy her mother's peaceful old age, of never talking to her father again, perfectly nice people who never did anyone any wrong, least of all Jessica, is a very fitting metaphor for the evil of communism/leftist liberalism. She hated her cousin Churchill who fought the nazis with all he had, and loved Stalin who sanctioned and enabled Hitler's war on Western Europe, and the murder of the Jewish people. But the author just tells the tale, never preaching one way or the other, not even about Hitler, not even Jessica. Amazing job she has done.
I was born in '69 so this happened before my time. I never heard my grandparents mention this nor my parents. I guess I am shocked at the extremes there were in each sister. I especially didn't u understand the entitlement they felt that their behaviour was just to be accepted all the while expecting their father to always pay for their behaviour. It's a lot to process and I enjoyed looking up the places mentioned and seeing them. I felt like I took a trip to Europe. Mostly the book made me sad for their families
Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2017
Bringing to life all the complex and shifting relationships this family had with each other and society was an amazing feat for the author. I️ am planning to seek out literature published by each of the girls because of this fascinating multi biography! Each one was so different yet so alike. My only problem was that since I had to read the book over the course of two months I kept forgetting who did what with whom! It is a remarkable book and sheds a new light on several important historical figures.
4.0 out of 5 starsAn interesting book especially for British readers who know better the inside of english history
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2014
An interesting book especially for British readers who know better the inside of english history. These girls were very talented and it is very interesing knowing how their lives developed and which role they had in the everyday history of England.Beside the above it is nice to follow the developments of an English aristocratic family in those days prewar. I enjoyed the book. It was something different though the writing style is a bit boring,but the lives of these girls was certainly not boring. I recomend it to all readers interested in history.
What a fascinating book about an historic family. The name Mitford is well known, through the families’ political persuasions and later, best selling books written by several family members. Jessica (Decca) and Nancy Mitford are well known authors of successful books, all of them based on family members whose traits seem to have been passed down through several generations, making for a fascinating account of life within a large, upper class family during the turbulent times of the 20th century. Once you start reading, this book will be hard to put down and it certainly gives a different view of its most famous figure, namely Adolf Hitler. Within this close-knit family there were Fascists and Communists, somehow coexisting as a family.
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of the best biographies of the Mitford family
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2017
It is good, interesting and one of the best biographies of the Mitford family. For me though, I learned much more about the lives of the six sisters from reading 'The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters', 830 pages, edited by Charlotte Mosley which includes so many letters exchanged during the years leading to and during the second world war; amazing letters and of course, with letters, you can pick it up and put it down without losing the thread.