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At Last, At Last!
on June 22, 2012
In the winter of 1982 I was spellbound by the 8 part mini-series Love in a Cold Climate shown on Masterpiece Theater. I looked forward to seeing it again, but to my dismay it was never repeated and I had to rely only on my memories except for short clips on Youtube. Now at last it's born again as a DVD set, and I can barely wait to once again feast my eyes on it.
The mini-series combines Nancy Mitford's two companion novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, both of which were published in the late 1940s and are the most autobiographical of all of her novels. The main and most compelling portions deal with the romantic vissisitudes of young Linda Radlett, daughter of the eccentric Lord Alconleigh and his vague but loving wife (ably played by Judi Dench). Linda longs for love, finding it first in a young but extremely dull banker, next in a dedicated Communist, and finally in an aristocratic French duke. Her cousin and best friend Fanny, the narrator of the series and of the two books from which it is drawn, leads a much quieter life, falling in love with an eminently suitable young Oxford don and never falling out of it again. Linda and Fanny's friend Polly Hampton, the daughter of a courtly old Earl and his dragonlady wife, has her own romantic troubles that lead her into turmoil as well.
That's the barebones plot outline of the main story, but there is much more to love in this mini-series. All of the characters are loveable and delightfully eccentric, from Linda and Fanny's hypochondriacal Uncle Davey to their highly artistic neighbor Lord Merlin. Besides Judi Dench, there are a host of excellent actors and actresses, including Michael Aldridge and most enjoyably Vivian Pickles as Polly's mother Lady Montdore. The story bounces from English country houses to refugee camps in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War to elegant Parisian apartments and London mansions.
In the early 2000s a much shorter version of Love in a Cold Climate was filmed and is also available on DVD. Of necessity it left out many of the characters and abridged the main story line quite a bit. While the newer version has charms of its own, it cannot compare to this wonderful production which is now, once again, ours to own and love forever.