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A Fine Old Conflict Paperback – September, 1978


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Paperback, September, 1978
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (P); 1st Vintage Books ed edition (September 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394726154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394726151
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kari on April 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jessica Mitford's memoirs of life in the communist party are much funnier than you'd have any reason to think they'd be. If you've read her autobiography (Daughters and Rebels) you'll have some idea of what you're in for here. Lots of fun to read, lots of laughs.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By T. Pierce on August 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sydney Mitford, Jessica's mother, believed a woman should only make news twice-when she married and when she died. How incredibly different her vision for her second youngest daughter's life must have been compared to what it turned out to be! After running away from hope and eloping, Jessica and her first husband Esmond ditched their aristocratic British roots and moved to America. Upon his death, Jessica decided to stay in America rather than return to her (Nazi sympathizing) family during the second world war. That's where A Fine Old Conflict picks up.

This book is warm and funny like Hons & Rebels, but it is thicker and therefore contains much more. Jessica resigns herself to a boring life in Washington DC with her two year old daughter Dinky, content to make the best of it as a single mom. Until, that is, she meets an alarmingly kindred spirit in Bob Treuhaft-a red civil rights lawyer who comes off as rather an unsung hero throughout. Scared of her feelings and still sad over Esmond's death, she runs away yet again to California. An adorable romance ensues between Jessica and Bob, who moves all the way out to California on a whim after visiting. The two are wonderfully fit for one another, both with a teasing attitude and a sense of civil justice that makes you wish you knew them.

The real plot thickening, though, starts when the Treuhafts join the Communist Party officially. Jessica takes an overwhelmingly humourous look back on the party (so much so that she upset many of her old friends from the CP upon publishing) but one can tell that she does not regret having joined it. The many good deeds of the Communist Party were completely unknown to me, while the horrifying stuff did not come as a suprise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By margot on April 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
(I did not buy this at Amazon. No, no; I bought it for $2.00 from the unwanted-book bin outside the Epiphany branch of the New York Public Library 8 or 9 years ago! Excellent investment, this very foxed 1978 paperback from Vintage Books [i.e., Random House]. I suppose I was taken in mostly by the excellent Ed Sorel cover art. It's a parody of a classical-kitsch painting called "The Storm" by Pierre Auguste Cot, showing two young lovers running and shielding themselves under a piece of cloth. In the Sorel version we have Jessica and her husband Bob Treuhaft as the lovers, protecting themselves under the Soviet flag.)

The slim Jessica Mitford body of work somehow seems broader and more engaging with every passing year. For decades she was regarded as a distinctly minor member of the Mitford family, lacking the looks and social chic of Diana, the notoriety of Unity, the nobility of Debo (Duchess of Devonshire and Kennedy in-law); and far behind the literary fame of eldest sister Nancy Mitford, the novelist. For most of her life she was noted for one supercilious book on the mortuary industry, 'The American Way of Death' (1963). She also wrote a memoir of her family called 'Hons and Rebels' ('Daughters and Rebels' in the American edition), which looked very slight in 1960 but is now treated as Primary Source in any treatment of the Mitford family.

As I recall, "Decca" Mitford's biggest media splash was a cover story in the Atlantic Monthly. This was her expose of the Famous Writers School of Westport, Connecticut, published as the July 1970 cover article.
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