Thursday, 19 December 2013

Guardian books blog: Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

published 1949



The Guardian newspaper's books blog is doing a series about people’s favourite comfort reads: I chose to write about Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate. Attentive blog readers would know it has been one of my most featured books at Clothes in Books – and not only because Nancy Mitford loves and knows her fashion. The piece is at the Guardian website here, and these are the opening paragaraphs:



As all Guardian readers know, the royal family traditionally likes to play parlour games around now. In 1949/50, according to Nancy Mitford's biographers Selina Hastings and Laura Thompson, the charades included one where the then Queen "kissed the King & shivered & everybody guessed at once!!" The answer was, of course, Love in a Cold Climate, which started enchanting readers, royal and not, in 1949 and has never stopped.

It is a book about rich, aristocratic people, people with titles and no jobs, and although Mitford liked to claim to be left-wing, she was never one for giving up any of her privileges, and had some decidedly undemocratic ideas about the role of women and who should have the vote. And yet the book is subversive as well as funny and comforting. These people, with their firm self-assurance, their conviction that they are the top of the pile and deserve all the comforts they have, are gently sent up and shown to be absurd. And – strangest of all – a plainly gay character is introduced, has a wonderful time and (apparently to the horror of American readers and publishers in the 50s) is allowed his own happy ending and lovers. Click here to read more….

You can find the past blog entries on the book here, and the search for Cedric's ball costumes - pictured below -  here and here. 



Not being sensible about clothes in this entry, with the red Schiaparelli jacket shown above, and the debutantes talk clothes in this one.


 

8 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Moira, on once again being featured in the Guardian! And I don't blame you one bit for featuring this book. What a mix of fashion, interesting lives, and a fascinating perspective on history. And a touch of the absurd too - what's not to like?

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    1. Thank you Margot for the kind words. It is an endlessly fascinating book...

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  2. Was she the original champagne socialist? I'm kind of interested in finding out more about the sisters, but probably won't have time.

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    1. They're pretty much the opposite of hard-boiled, but they are fascinating - ranging from Jessica the Communist to Unity the Nazi and Diana who married Oswald Mosley. If they don't make another version of the books, they should make a drama about their lives, and you can watch that instead!

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  3. I did go and read the Guardian article, and enjoyed it, but you had me hooked with the second paragraph above. I do love to read about the rich and this sounds very good. Don't know when I will read it, due to an overload of books already, but I will put it in the queue.

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    1. Thanks Tracy - as you'll have gathered, I really love these books (the other one is The Pursuit of Love) so I do recommend them - and you can usually pick them up second hand.

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  4. I have got this on my tbr list, Moira. Hope you have a lovely Christmas. Cheers from Carole (Carole's Chatter)

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    1. Thanks Carol, and happy Christmas to you too. I'm sure you'll love the book.

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