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The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters Paperback – October 28, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Nancy, the eldest, was a novelist and biographer. Diana and Unity are always described (rightfully) as "unrepentant Hitler apologists", while Jessica is inevitably portrayed (just as correctly) as "Left wing" or worse. Deborah, the youngest, married a Duke and became chatelaine of one of the grandest English country houses. Pamela was second oldest and quietest, enjoying a rural life surrounded by animals.
There are many hundreds of letters in this huge collection, which Charlotte Mosley (granddaughter-in-law of Diana) indicates was winnowed down from untold thousands. The letters are interesting for several reasons. Since the Mitford girls knew an enormous number and variety of people the letters are filled with references to various social, political, and literary lions (thoughtfully identified in helpful footnotes after each letter). Unity and Diana's obsession with Hitler makes their letters particularly fascinating, if disturbing, when they fondly mention "the dear old Fuhrer" and other Nazi leaders. (One wonders if Charlotte Mosley intentionally left out some even more hateful comments the two must have made during the 1930s).Read more ›
I found these letters fascinating because, as is noted in one of the introductions, this is the first book of letters to chart the lives of six siblings over the span of some 70+ years. I was a little disappointed that a lot of historical events from the sisters' points of view seemed to have been left out, but it was still interesting reading through the decades.
I understand that the volume of letters was daunting and cuts had to be made in order to get the most out of as many letters as possible, but it was still disappointing to read so many short letters. Also, the number of letters to and from Pam made one wonder why there were so few letters. It was never really explained why there were so few letters; unless an explanation, culled from an introduction to one section, was that most of her letters seemed to revolve around her dogs, chickens, and food - massive amounts of food and menus. But, she is referred to in many of the letters - maybe that excuses the lack of Pam.
I found to be very helpful reasonably frequent editorial comments (translations of made up languages between the sisters and explanations of certain words) that kept cropping up, in the likely event that one forgot the meaning of certain words.
I really enjoyed this book and can't help but hope that another volume is in process.
I have read somewhere that Charlotte Mosley (daughter-in-law of Diana Mitford, aka Lady Mosley) had access to some 12,000 personal letters exchanged by the sisters over nearly eighty years and has only chosen to use 5% of them for the book. But what a literal hoard of literary treasure!
Mrs Mosley has selected well and edited superbly, bringing out and explaining with her own notes the deep and long-lasting relationships of the sisters, the context of their times, their humour and their eccentricities, their enthusiasm for words in several languages, their loves and their tragedies and, with the exception of the delightful and redoubtable Deborah, now the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the sadnesses of their passing.
The sisters have been described as "eccentric" and "maddening." Having read and enjoyed every one of their letters as published in this splendid work, I would be inclined to suggest that they were no more eccentric or maddening than the members of many families. But I suppose that their relatively privileged upbringing, their inclination to express themselves with confidence from an early age, their having the time to write so much - both letters and books - and the extraordinary array of celebrities with whom they mixed, all must have been major factors in how and why their lives were so "inter-esting" (or eccentric or maddening).
What were my conclusions?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
hard to follow. Scattered. Better to read a biography as I am sure theirs is an interesting story.Published 5 months ago by dili
I absolutely LOVED this! Devoured it. Knew of Nancy, Jessica (whom I met briefly at a book fair many years ago) and Diana. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jude the Obscure
I checked this book out on a whim when it beckoned to me from a library shelf. (I had just started to re-read Nancy Mitford's bio of the Sun King and have read other books by Nancy... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Susan Chapek
One of many books I read on the Mitford sisters, an influential (and controversial) family ad their influence on the upper class in Great Britain during the first half of the 20th... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Melaney P. Jordan
Absolutely fascinating. Oh to be born into the landed gentry in early 20th century England.Published 16 months ago by jon a. walgren
Excellent companion book to any research you might want to do on this exceptional family.Published 20 months ago by Jeanne D. Taylor
The Mitfords, Letters Between Six Sisters, Charlotte Mosley (Ed.); First Harper Perennial Edition published 2008 (paperback; 834 pages including index)
"The first... Read more
If you have read any of the books about these sisters you really need to read this one. These ladies had quite an interesting range of opinions!! Read morePublished on July 30, 2014 by Gizzy
Charlotte Mosley did a lovely job providing just enough narrative and footnotes to let the letters themselves shine. Read morePublished on May 30, 2014 by Amikins