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The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels (edition 2001)

by Nancy Mitford

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1,190236,740 (4.12)167
Member:sandykaypax
Title:The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels
Authors:Nancy Mitford
Info:Vintage (2001), Edition: Vintage Books ed., Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:England

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The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

1001 (13) 1001 books (11) 1920s (13) 1930s (11) 20th century (41) aristocracy (11) Britain (12) British (53) British fiction (10) British literature (24) classic (8) England (45) English (11) English literature (11) family (9) fiction (247) humor (32) literature (15) love (10) Mitford (14) Nancy Mitford (9) novel (29) own (10) read (9) romance (11) society (9) to-read (33) unread (14) women (11) WWII (20)
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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Here's another book that I'd checked off here as "Read," but when I saw it listed in "The Guardian's 1000 Novels...." I said I hadn't read it. I have a clear memory of reading at least one Nancy Mitford novel in my youth, and I'll need to take a look at this one to make sure it was the one. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
In Pursuit of Love:
This was an interesting story. It followed the love affairs of one woman. I feel like she seemed to change herself depending on who she was involved with at the time. It was sad. She had these great loves, but didn’t really understand who she was. I did enjoy the humor and the randomness of the family. They were a fun bunch of characters.

Love in a Cold Climate:
After reading the second book, I really started to like Fanny’s narration. She has a unique view of things and is very entertaining to read. I enjoyed going back and getting to see some of the same characters from The Pursuit of Love again. The Radlett’s are such an unconventional family, that it was fun to read another story that they were in. This story followed another eccentric, gentry family and a scandalous love affair. It was a light-hearted and fun book. ( )
  amandajoy30 | Feb 16, 2012 |
I thoroughly enjoyed Nancy Mitford's "The Pursuit of Love." While the story itself -- focusing on the narrator's cousin Linda and her trials as she searches for love -- was fairly standard, I really liked Mitford's little details about the family (apparently modeled after her own.) From children's hunts to curses written on pieces of paper in drawers, she turned a kind of plain story into a fascinating one because of the comedic details about the family. The follow-up "Love in a Cold Climate" wasn't as strong for me I felt like the little idosyncratic details were lacking so the characters themselves were less interesting. (The best details were again about the Radlett family, who were just minor characters in this story.) ( )
  amerynth | Sep 8, 2011 |
Fate - and a bookswapping website - recently reminded me that I had yet to read Nancy Mitford's novels, despite working my way through her sisters' non-fiction titles, so I promptly traded one of my own books that I was unlikely to read again ... for another. I love Nancy Mitford's style and humour - that uniquely upper class combination of Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse - but found the actual stories, once past the familiar Mitford biographical details, dated and unbelievable. And not in a good way.

The Pursuit of Love is about the Radlett family, and in particular the beautiful Linda, modelled in part on Nancy herself and sister Diana (so claims Jessica Mitford in the foreword). The eccentric Radletts - wonderfully gruff Uncle Matthew, vague Aunt Sadie, and the children Louisa, Linda, Matt, Bob, Jassy, Vict, etc. - are described with indulgent amusement by narrator Fanny, their very sensible and ordinary cousin. The prewar years at the Radletts' country estate of Alconleigh are the funniest chapters, with the Hons meeting in the airing cupboard, and Uncle Matthew's 'child hunt' through the countryside. Uncle Matthew is one of my favourite characters, ever, with his 'damn sewers' and 'chubb fuddling'. He is a bad-tempered, unsociable, forthright old curmudgeon, but vastly entertaining all the same. I love his 'curse' on the people he hates:

'It was a favourite superstition of Uncle Matthew's that if you wrote somebody's name on a piece of paper and put it in a drawer, that person would die within a year.'

Linda, however, who soon takes over the story with her varied and always unsuitable love life, is a beautiful yet selfish and infuriating creature, the kind of woman who must always have a man in her life. She reels from bed to bed, marrying a boring banker, eloping with a communist, and shacking up with a French lothario who picks her up in the train station. I didn't find her eccentric or endearing, merely a cold-hearted cliche. Fanny the less than impartial narrator obviously loves her, but I found I couldn't care less.

And Polly Hampton, in Love in a Cold Climate, is Linda with a different name, who this time marries a disgusting old man to escape her overbearing mother. Boy Dougdale, played by Anthony Andrews in the screen adaptation of the novel, would never be allowed in modern fiction, being a Humbert Humbert type who grooms his own nieces. Then when Polly is cut out of her father's will, a distant relation from Canada, who makes Boy pale in comparison, arrives to claim her inheritance. Cedric Hampton is a raging homosexual, who arrives wearing a bright blue suit and blue goggles, charms Polly's poor father with his knowledge of antiques, flatters her vain mother, and generally takes over the whole story. I couldn't stand him either.

Nancy Mitford has a witty way with words, and a sharply observant eye for social and background details, but if her novels are exaggeratedly autobiographical throughout, like the anecdotes in the first chapters of Pursuit that I recognised from Jessica and Debo's books, then the inspiration behind Linda/Polly is slightly disturbing. Thankfully, Nancy must have thought the same, because both characters meet with a suitably fitting end. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Aug 5, 2011 |
One of my favorite lines, when something doesn't interest me or I don't want to get involved is "It's not madly me." I only realized recently that this came straight out of The Pursuit of Love. (Uncle Davey says it a lot.) Really richly funny and fascinating and (mildly) decadent. On the same principle that no movie with James Mason in it can ever be completely bad, no Nancy Mitford novel is ever not worth reading. ( )
1 vote Lcanon | Mar 10, 2011 |
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A double novel, in which events take place concurrently. A satiric account of upper-class life (based on the Mitfords) in Britain during the 1920s-40s.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375718990, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:14 -0400)

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The snobbery and false values of the English country nobility are satirized in these two love stories involving the well-established Radlett and Hampton families.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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