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The duchess of Devonshire, youngest of the famous Mitford siblings, is best known for Chatsworth, her historic Derbyshire home, which she keeps open for more than 400,000 visitors each year. Unlike sisters Nancy or Jessica, the duchess is probably a better estate manager than a writer as Stoppard puts it, as "a literary moll, the Duchess is a hoot." This slim volume collects many previously published pieces, however, some of the works are not readily available to American readers (e.g., the British Goat Society Yearbook). Some dwell on the idiocies of modern life: impenetrable packaging, incomprehensible remote control devices for televisions and the ubiquity of consultants. A few revisit Mitford family history, the best being Deborah's account of bringing her goat from the Hebrides to sister Nancy's house in London in 1939, while others discuss obscure British writers. It's when she comes to livestock and gardens that the duchess hits her stride. Her description of the "five stages of gardening" is hilarious: people "begin by liking flowers, progress to flowering shrubs, then autumn foliage and berries; next they go for leaves, and finally the underneaths of leaves." While many of the duchess's pronouncements incite reactionary sentiments e.g., she'd "do away with" women "who want to join men's clubs" and "female weather forecasters," and she'd like to bring back "housewives" and "nurses in uniform" American readers, at least, may find it camp rather than offensive. Reading the duchess is a bit like visiting an old aunt: you swallow the dreary bits politely, knowing there will be a few delightful morsels when you least expect them.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
There is charm here, but it depends on how you respond tosentences such as, "In the 1930s, my parents bought a small island offthe coast of Mull." The duchess is the youngest of the Mitfords, Nancyand Jessica's baby sister. Chatsworth, her family estate, is athriving tourist destination as well as the place where shelives. Borrowing from writings, diaries, and letters, and carefullyfootnoting each person mentioned (Uncle Harold is Harold Macmillan),she decries environmentalists, feminists, and consultants. However,she writes lightly but amusingly about what it takes to make a statelyhome attractive (toilets and a good shop); the glories of a Camelliajaponica Alba Plena that has bloomed at Chatsworth since the 1840s;and how she got a goat from the Hebrides to her sister Nancy's housein London. Her opening page, about how hard it is to start a bookproperly, is worth the price of admission. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
She's entertaining for awhile but basically she is just what she is: an old, well-born woman who lead an interesting life. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ron Newcome
I love everything about this woman, including her writing and her no-holds-barred insights. <3 And her love of chickens are only one example of her classy self.Published 9 months ago by Betty Cloer Wallace (TUCKASEEGEE CHRONICLES)
I love her writing but this book was too short. Her observations of people are so funny. "Wait For Me! Read morePublished on August 28, 2013 by earlybird
Counting My Chickens . . . And Other Home Thoughts is a slender volume of musings and remembrances by Deborah Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. Read morePublished on October 31, 2010 by Mary G. Longorio
The Dorothy Sayers mystery novel fans out there will understand me-- the Duchess of Devonshire reminded me so much of Lord Peter Wimsey's mother, it was amazing. Read morePublished on September 29, 2008 by N. Ferguson R.
The Duchess has that touch of Mitford wit that can also be seen in Nancy & Jessica's writings. Filled with pithy observations about aspects of life in Britain and history, I was... Read morePublished on April 5, 2008 by Craig Millick