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The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels (Modern Library) Hardcover – March 8, 1994

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (March 8, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679600906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679600909
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Few aristocratic English families of the 20th century have enjoyed quite the delicious notoriety that the Mitford sisters courted in the years bracketed by two world wars. For a start, two of the girls, Unity and Diana, were Fascists (the former was a friend of Hitler and Goebbels, and the latter married Sir Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists). Two others took the writing route: Jessica ran away from home and became a famous muckraking journalist, and Nancy composed maliciously witty--and transparently autobiographical--novels as well as several biographies. The Pursuit of Love (1945), her greatest fictional success, and its companion, Love in a Cold Climate (1949), keep closely to the spirit (and details) of their youthful amusements and more grown-up adventures.

Seen through the adoring eyes of Fanny Logan, the self-effacing cousin who records their shenanigans with a wicked sincerity, the Radletts of Alconleigh shine with Gloucestershire glamour: apoplectic Uncle Matthew; Lord Alconleigh (modeled to a fine nuance after Mitford's father, Lord Redesdale, who like Uncle Matthew used to hunt his children with bloodhounds); his kind, rather vague wife, Aunt Sadie; as well as Fanny's favorite cousin Linda and the other six Radlett children. The Radlett daughters and Fanny wait impatiently for life to become interesting. Because of their station, however, nothing but marriage is expected of them, so they hurl themselves at love like crusaders, with varied and always fascinating results. At one point Fanny recounts:

A few minutes only after Linda had left me to go back to London, Christian and the comrades, I had another caller. This time it was Lord Merlin...."This is a bad business," he said, abruptly, and without preamble, though I had not seen him for several years. "I'm just back from Rome, and what do I find--Linda and Christian Talbot. It's an extraordinary thing that I can't ever leave England without Linda getting herself mixed up with some thoroughly undesirable character. This is a disaster--how far has it gone? Can nothing be done?"
The Pursuit of Love follows the romantic fortunes of Linda Radlett, while Love in a Cold Climate ventures further afield with the story of Polly Hampton's shocking love affair and its unexpectedly funny aftermath. Fanny's inexhaustible narration is a pleasant buffer for Mitford's deft teasing, which dances along just this side of mockery. The author of U and Non-U, a famous tongue-in-cheek treatise on the shibboleths of upper-class mores, Mitford often leaves the reader wondering just where she stands in the class wars, and much of her humor arises in the fine distinctions of aristocratic manners and speech. Still, there's an inimitable tart sweetness to these stories of true love and its pallid imitators, making them perfect snapshots of a vanished world. --Barrie Trinkle

From the Inside Flap

Few aristocratic English families of the twentieth century enjoyed the glamorous notoriety of the infamous Mitford sisters. Nancy Mitford's most famous novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, satirize British aristocracy in the twenties and thirties through the amorous adventures of the Radletts, an exuberantly unconventional family closely modelled on Mitford's own.

The Radletts of Alconleigh occupy the heights of genteel eccentricity, from terrifying Lord Alconleigh (who, like Mitford's father, used to hunt his children with bloodhounds when foxes were not available), to his gentle wife, Sadie, their wayward daughter Linda, and the other six lively Radlett children. Mitford's wickedly funny prose follows these characters through misguided marriages and dramatic love affairs, as the shadow of World War II begins to close in on their rapidly vanishing world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Mitford's writing is full of warmth, heart and bright humor.
"Pursuit of Love" is about Linda's love affairs and "Love in a Cold Climate" is about Polly's scandalous marriage.
Ganime B. Akin
Have heard good things about the book, so look forward to reading it with great anticipation.
J. H. Nebenzahl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 85 people found the following review helpful By L. Dann on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
For anyone sick of the ramifications of political correctness, Mitford's books are the antidote. Moreover, they give good reason as to how we came to need the concept. These slices of aristocratic, self assured, lunacy have made me laugh so hard and loud that my family came to check on me, certain that I'd gone mad. It is hard for me to imagine that they would not affect everyone that way, but having followed what others considered their favorite humor, I no longer assume that mine is the universal touchstone.
The attitude of racial and class determination, is no where more honestly expressed than in this semi autobiographical two novel collection. The wife of a very dull former secretary to India put it well,"I think I may say we put India on the map. Hardly any of one's friends in England had even heard of India before we went there, you know." If you don't find that funny, you probably won't enjoy the book, which is very sad, because if it works, it's an absurdist's dream come true.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Dr Joanna Bratten on January 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This pair of novels certainly don't exude coldness, in any way. They represent the 'autobiographical' novels of Nancy Mitford, and she spins her tales in a very warm and hysterically funny manner, demonstrating her unique skills as a novelist in a period when men tended to dominate the best-sellers lists. A contemporary of writers such as Waugh, Huxley, Greene, and other important names in the 'canon' of twentieth-century literature, Mitford's novels are far too often neglected. Which is a shame, as her richly coloured fictional tapestries reveal a great deal about the lives of the upper-classes, and from a genuinely humourous standpoint.
These novels will be enjoyed by readers who like the light social novels of Wodehouse, and more importantly, those of Evelyn Waugh. Waugh and Mitford were very close friends, and in his later years, Mitford was Waugh's primary object of correspondance, and their letters have since been collected and compiled in a single edition. Waugh's influence on Mitford is obvious - as her work is indeed in the same satiric vein as much of his - but less obvious and more intriguing is her influence on his work. Mitford's sharpness and quickness rival that of Waugh, and in these novels she almost outshines him, in the warmth and jollity of her satire.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas R. Hunter on May 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Linda, the main character of The Pursuit Of Love, muses when she hears at long last from her lover, "Life...is sometimes sad and often dull, but there are currants in the cake and here is one of them." She might have been talking about this book. In contrast, these novels are rarely sad and never dull and are generously fruited with some delightfully comic moments.

A literary masterpiece? Not really. No great ideas are discussed, no dramatic themes explored. But for those who appreciate Wodehouse and Waugh, there is much here to enjoy.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on December 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure why I avoided reading Mitford all these years - she is definitely one of the heirs to Jane Austen's crown - Mitford's writing is plain laugh-out-loud funny.
In "Pursuit of Love' we are introduced to the narrator of the book - Fanny whose mother, the bolter, has deserted her and she is bought up by her aunts - one of whom Aunt Sadie has a family of 7 children and a husband - all of whom display varying degrees of genteel eccentricity. Uncle Matthew hunts his children across the countryside when there are no foxes to be found. There is also the revered placing of the entrenching-tool in a prominent place in the house - Uncle Matthew used this rather obscure instrument to dispatch 8 Germans in the Great War and it is given a great deal more respect now than an entrenching tool might otherwise expect. But this story is mostly about the immensely charming but languid Linda - closest in age to Fanny and pathologically incapable of doing anything useful from tying her own stock to making her own bed. Her marriages seem to reflect the tenor of the times - from first falling for and marrying the wealthy but relentlessy middle-class (and therefore dull) Tony. Escaping him she is dragged into the meaningful world of born-again communism by Christian - another child of the upper-classes. Finally she meets Fabrice - Frenchman and Resistance Fighter in the second world war.
This book is set in the 1930's and early 40's and is a wonderful commentary on class at the time. It is said that it is in some ways autobiographical, and from what little I have heard of Nancy Mitford's life I can well believe it. It is so light, enjoyable and wonderfully wicked - one of the few novels where I actually laughed out-loud. It is written with a light-hand, and such benevolent eccentricity. A book to be thoroughly enjoyed.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Leonard L. Wilson on August 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
These are 2 delightful satires on the social life of the well-to-do English of the '30s and '40s. In PURSUIT Linda Radlett, brightest star in an unconventional upper class British family (based upon the author's own family), is hardly an admirable person. She is capable of saying cattily about her sister's older fiance, "Poor old thing, I suppose she likes him, but, I must say, if he was one's dog, one would have him put down." And she callously remarks about her own unloved baby, who is wailing, "Poor soul, I think it must have caught sight of itself in the glass."And yet she is a fascinating creature who somehow retains the reader's sympathy as she endures marriage to the ambitious scion of a dull banking family, struggles to adapt to life with a zealous communist lover, and at last finds true love with a worldly Frenchman, just as World War 2 is closing in upon them.Nancy Mitford's witty style captures perfectly the ambience of English social life during the '30s and into the early war years. However, the sharp, brittle satire does not disguise the author's affection for her family of fallible characters.In COLD CLIMATE Polly Hampton is a hypnotizingly beautiful woman, but to the dismay of her parents, she shows no interest in love or marriage--until she suddenly overwhelms a very recently widowed older kinsman (who is rumored to have been a lover of her own mother). Her parents, alienated from their only child by this unsuitable match, are now ready to meet their nearest male heir, Cedric Hampton (lately of Nova Scotia, now of Paris), who turns out to be a very handsome, but obviously gay, charmer, who transforms their lives.Read more ›
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