- Paperback: 345 pages
- Publisher: Picador (September 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312610645
- ISBN-13: 978-0312610647
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 144 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wait for Me!: Memoirs Paperback – September 13, 2011
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“Charming, captivating, and at times wickedly funny. ‘Wait for Me!' was the refrain of young ‘Debo', the baby of the family. Now ninety, she has caught up beautifully.” ―Time
“A national treasure.” ―Sarah Lyall, The New York Times
“Wait for Me! . . . teem[s] with memories of love, war, betrayal, heartbreak, housekeeping, and frolic . . . tantalizing . . . riveting.” ―Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
“Admirably done, cannily blending disclosure and reticence in a charming book that kept me riveted.” ―Miranda Seymour, The Guardian (London)
“[Debo] is in possession of what I can only describe as a uniquely Mitford-esque sensibility: loving but unsentimental . . . able to find the ridiculous in almost anything.” ―Rachel Cooke, The Observer (London)
“More entertaining than anything I could say about it.” ―P. J. Kavanagh on COUNTING MY CHICKENS..., The Spectator
“Nobody with an interest in the past century could fail to be interested in the gossip, which extends to just about everyone of interest.” ―Matthew Bell on HOME TO ROOST, The Independent on Sunday
“Behind the wit and quips, there is something else stronger and more rigorous. She goes to the ballet at Covent Garden with the Queen Mother and notices that throughout the entire performance, the Queen Mother's back ‘never once touched the chair.' That is how the Duchess is too--never a slouch, never a saggy moment, even in grief alert, attentive, observant.” ―Adam Nicolson on HOME TO ROOST, The Spectator
“One of the great twentieth-century correspondences . . . Bursting with wit and conviviality.” ―James Purdon on IN TEARING HASTE, The Observer (London)
“Beguiling . . . Hugely enjoyable . . . What these letters so wonderfully demonstrate is an unfailing appetite for life.” ―Anne Chisholm on IN TEARING HASTE, The Spectator
“Funny, loving, sparkly, snarky, heartbreaking, chilling, gossipy, wise.” ―Amanda Lovell on THE MITFORDS, O, The Oprah Magazine
About the Author
Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was brought up in Oxfordshire, England. In 1950 her husband, Andrew, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, inherited extensive estates in Yorkshire and Ireland as well as Chatsworth, the family seat in Derbyshire, and Deborah became chatelaine of one of England's great houses. She is the author of Counting My Chickens and Home to Roost, among other books, and her letters have been collected in The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters and In Tearing Haste: The Correspondence of the Duchess of Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor. Following her husband's death in 2004, she moved to a village on the Chatsworth estate.
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Born into Edwardian aristocracy, home schooled for the most part, her life extended from the heyday of the British Empire, the calm between the two World Wars, the involvement with Hitler by two of her sisters, the glitter of weddings, inaugurations and coronations, as well as state funerals on two continents. Through it all though, Debo remained practical, pragmatic, and clear-eyed.
Wait For Me is an enchanting memoir. While the glamorous elements are fun to read (the Kennedys were her in-laws), it's the account of her role in saving Chatsworth that engenders the most admiration and respect. She doesn't gloss over mistakes, missteps, and difficulties. She pitched in wherever she was needed, worried, adapted, and moved forward. There are lessons there for all of us.
The star of the story is the house - Chatsworth House - look it up on the internet, just amazing. Because of the British death tax of 80% it took two decades of selling off things to pay the taxes. No one these days can afford to keep up such a house (65 full time staff, 35,000 acres, hundreds of rooms) so it was donated to a trust and then the trust tries to become self-supporting by opening the house to the public and also selling the fruits and crafts of the estate. The family lives on in the house by renting from the trust. A great deal of the story is how she tackled restoring the house on an austere budget (Britain took decades to recover from WWII). She was an amazing woman. Everyone comes to stay in the house - the royal family, the Kennedy's, famous authors and celebrities - and she gives us some of the scoop on them.
My only criticism of the book is that she is on every blessed committee in Britain, and the itemized lists of committees, the wonderful people on them, all the wonderful people helping with the house, can be pretty tedious. It is something like an acceptance speech at the Oscars, but much longer! But then in the midst of all this, she suddenly turns poignant and tells of intense personal things like the deaths of her three premature babies, her sisters' tragedies, her husband's alcoholism - all with tact and compassion. Of particular interest to Americans is when she comments on the differences on such things as how we handle big celebrations, etc.
I loved reading it on the Kindle but the lack of photos is a big loss. Fortunately, the internet makes up for it.
If you are an Anglophile, don't miss this book.
So - "two" lives. Deborah does an excellent job in writing about both parts, not skipping the less attractive parts of life with such eccentric creatures as her parents and sisters. I think she was more honest - open, maybe - about her family of birth than her marital one. In other sources, I've read that her husband wasn't faithful - she does talk about his alcoholism - and from her "couched" writing, it would seem that his relationships with their three children were not close. In addition to their family life, Deborah writes about their "public life", with their postings abroad and the friends and acquaintances they made and the duties they performed.
Hers was an interesting, long life and well-written about. I sometimes wish, though, that I could have read a little more "between the lines".