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Paperback The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family Book

ISBN: 0393324141

ISBN13: 9780393324143

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family

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Book Overview

This is the story of a close, loving family splintered by the violent ideologies of Europe between the world wars. Jessica was a Communist; Debo became the Duchess of Devonshire; Nancy was one of the best-selling novelists of her day; beautiful Diana married the Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley; and Unity, a close friend of Hitler, shot herself in the head when England and Germany declared war.

The Mitfords had style and presence and were...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

The Mitford Girls

A fascinating book which gives a unique insight into the Mitford family and an era of great interest.

Fair biography of the Mitford Girls

Wonderful fair biography of the Mitford girls: 6 sisters. They were connected with all important public figures in society and politics. Wonderfully written!

The Mitfords make fascinating reading

The Mitfords - six sisters, their brother and two parents make for fascinating reading and there have been a few biographies, autobiographies and of course the semi-autobiographical novels of Nancy which have managed to fuel the publics desire to hear more. Lovell's biography of the family is more than just the most recent book. It makes use of all the sisters letters and notes (access hasn't always been allowed in the past - especially to Decca's private papers) and it also helps to shed light on the positives and negatives of all the works which have been published in the Mitford collection.Lovell , whose work I very much admire, has the art of discussing with judging - either her subjects or their previous biographers. I feel she leaves the judgement to the reader to make, and in this case it is a very good thing. The Mitford family had a very controversial set of characters. Nancy with her 'teases' was perhaps the most outrageous within the family, but publically there was the divorce of Diana in the 1930's followed by her seemingly long affair with Moseley (the leader of the British Fascists) and her later marriage and unapologetic support for him and their cause. Unity Mitford is famous, or should I say infamous, for her long friendship with Hitler. Decca ran away from home with her cousin at the age of about 18 and went to Spain to support the Communists in the Spanish Civil War of 1936. She later married her cousin Esmond and went to live in America where she remained very much cut off from her family - mostly it seems for reasons of her own. The other two sisters, Pamela and Debo led quieter lives and in Debo's case only marginally less interesting. All in all the girls were just fascinating indeed.Lovell starts her book with a brief summary of what isn't going to be in it. The introduction covers the material which has been done before (try the biography by Jonathon Guiness, Diana's son, if you want to read more on this) and then the material which _will_ be in it. Much of the book is rehashed to some extent - well it has to be doesn't it as there is only so much new material and much of the old stuff is just as interesting. It also needs to be there to shed light on the new material which Lovell includes later. Each chapter is done in date order so all the sisters are followed up in each section, although for obvious reasons some are mentioned more than others - for instance, Unity dominates the early thirties, Decca, the later thirties,This new material includes the use of Decca's papers and letters, and much of this is made use of in the latter portion of the book. Whereas there seems to be very little about Debo, the Duchess of Devonshire or Pamela the quiet 'rural' Mitford. I suppose with the Duchess still alive there might be problems with using too much material on her or maybe, like Pamela there is not that much controversial which would make it interesting. Nevertheles, what is used is well worth it as it gives insight into

Sisters, Daughters, Rebels, Lovers

The Sisters is a multigenerational story of one of the most dazzlingly complex families ever to grace the pages of Burke's Peerage. The seven children of the second Lord Redesdale were raised in a fairly conventional upper class British manner, with servants and governesses. As five of the six daughters emerged into adulthood, she found quickly found fame (or notoriety). Nancy became a gifted novelist, essayist, and biographer; Diana started as a society hostess and ended as wife of one of the most controversial men in British politics and as an undaunted Hitler apologist; Unity went even further by becoming a Hitler acolyte who shot herself when World War II broke out; Jessica (Decca)also entered politics by becoming a passionate Communist and later a gifted social critic and muckraker; Deborah (Debo) was slightly more traditional in that she became a Duchess and chatelaine of one of England's grandest country houses. Only the second daugher Pam lived a retiring life, and the only son Tom's career was cut short by his death in World War II.The Sisters is a good introduction to the Mitfords if you aren't familiar with them. Even if you are a long time Mitford aficionado it's a valuable read because it covers all the sisters without favoring or slighting any. This balanced look at the Mitfords will stand out because so much of what has been written about them is biased towards/against one or more of the sisters. Mary Lovell spent a lot of time untangling the real family history, which is important because so much of the sisters' stories has gotten entangled with Nancy's fictional Radletts (from "The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate") and with Jessica's imaginative memoir "Hons and Rebels". By the time you finish the book you will be quite fond of all of the sisters and their extended family, and thanks to Ms. Lovell's inclusion of information on their descendants, you will feel like a friend who has known the family for two or three generations.
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