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The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

The Pursuit of Love (1945)

by Nancy Mitford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Radlett and Montdore (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,370458,431 (3.87)155
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» See also 155 mentions

English (38)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
After I committed to reading [Love in a Cold Climate], I realized it was the second of a series of novels Nancy Mitford had written, so I started here with the first. It took a while for the story to capture me, but ultimately it was an amusing look at the life of the landed gentry between the wars, and especially the lives of women at this time. Ultimately, it is the story of Linda, who longs for romantic love with all the naivete of haphazard education and impracticality, along with her parents, siblings, and mentors. Her course is narrated by her cousin Fanny, who in contrast to her own abandoning gadabout mother has become practical, educated, resilliant, and happily married. Nevertheless, she loves Linda and portrays her with great sympathy as well as humor. ( )
  ffortsa | Dec 17, 2018 |
Having read Love in a Cold Climate first - with any potential spoilers since forgotten but piquing in the meantime my Mitford interest, eventuating into my obsession with Decca -, it is so much fun to be back to the irreverent farce that is the Mitford family life albeit (slightly) fictionalised.

The trademark-Mitford light comedic tone belies the tragedic and subversive nature of Nancy's gentle send-up of upper class English aristocracy. Just like the eccentric Mitfords, the characters in this book are unforgettable in their outrageousness and striking in their individuality. Each has a story, a simple biography which sums up their idealism and personalities. There are frequent sideplots, akin to the quick anecdotes you tell in the middle of a longer story to colour the scene. They do not necessarily contribute to the plot, but nevertheless are fun diversions and contribute to the overall tongue-in-cheek flippancy.

Recommended if you like your satires light and comedic with a dash of pathos.

Aside: The only way the book can be better (other than including more examples of Lord Merlin's Kroesig-teases and fixing the tone of the Paris section to be more consistent with the rest of the book, it got too montage-of-luxury-and-perfection while I wanted more tiny lacerations of the upper-class) is if an editor added additional notes regarding the bases of each character/event or included letters from the Mitford sisters themselves reacting to reading themselves in the book. ( )
  kitzyl | Nov 13, 2018 |
Although a beloved classic to many, I found the book to be light-weight and uninteresting with characters that I never grew to care about. The one redeeming aspect of the book is the depiction of life in Britain from the end of WWI to the end of WWII. ( )
  M_Clark | Jun 13, 2018 |
"Life is sometimes sad and often dull, but there are currants in the cake and here is one of them." ( )
  plumtingz | Dec 14, 2017 |
This lightly autobiographical comic novel focuses on the life of Linda Radlett and her family, as narrated by her cousin Fanny. Raised in a life of comfort in a large country aristocratic family, Linda marries young (her choice) to a stuffy banker with Nazi sympathies. After a few years, including the birth of a daughter she abhors and utterly rejects, Linda leaves the banker for a scruffy, starving Communist involved in the Spanish Civil War. After a bit Linda tires of him, and leaves Spain for home. When she arrives in Paris, she discovers her train ticket has expired, and she has no funds to buy a replacement. Uncertain as to what to do she sits on her suitcase, fur coat trailing the ground and begins to cry. Of course she is immediately rescued by a French aristocrat who first puts her up in a luxury hotel, then in a sunny apartment with a prestigious address, who buys her jewels, furs and a couture wardrobe, and professes to be madly in love with her.

I found--at least the French aristocrat rescue--to be highly unrealistic. This book seems to me to be very much of its time--like the 1930's black and white movies with madcap heiresses. We only see Linda through the lens of Fanny, the more staid cousin, so in general we're not privy to her inner thoughts. Linda comes across as shallow, vapid, and amoral. Are we supposed to admire her? Or is she a stand-in for the decline of the British upper class?

The introduction to the volume I read said, "For some, Mitford's brazen indifference to big ideas, coupled with her minute attention to the sex and love lives of the privileged upper class, condemns this, and all her other novels, to inconsequentiality."

The writing wasn't bad, but the themes and the characters just didn't interest me. In my mind, I kept comparing Linda to Ursula, the heroine of Life After Life, who is a contemporary of Linda's. Linda is so much less interesting.

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | May 25, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nancy Mitfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fox, EmiliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heller, ZoëIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pym, RolandIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Singer, MalvinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vickers, HugoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Gaston Palewski
First words
There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh.
We worked hard, mending and making and washing, doing any chores for Nanny rather than actually look after the children ourselves. I have seen too many children brought up without Nannies to think this at all desirable. In Oxford, the wives of progressive dons did it often as a matter of principle; they would gradually become morons themselves, while the children looked like slum children and behaved like barbarians.
"Education! I was always led to suppose that no educated person ever spoke
of notepaper, and yet I hear poor Fanny asking Sadie for notepaper. What is
this education? Fanny talks about mirrors and mantelpieces, handbags and
perfume, she takes sugar in her coffee, has a tassel on her umbrella, and I
have no doubt that if she is ever fortunate enough to catch a husband she
will call his father and mother Father & Mother. Will the wonderful
education she is getting make up to the unhappy brute for all these endless
pinpricks? Fancy hearing one's wife talk about notepaper - the irritation!'

... `She'll get a husband all right, even if she does talk about lunch, and
*en*velope, and put the milk in first.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Note: wrong product description printed below! Most likely due to erroneous ISBN. The Pursuit of Love is a humorous portrayal of an eccentric upper-class British family (a thinly-disguised version of the Mitfords) in Britain during the 1920s-40s. Narrated fondly by cousin Fanny, the novel focuses on Linda Radlett and her efforts to find true love and fulfillment.

I think this edition has the wrong ISBN -- it appears to be the same as a book called Who Has Your Heart by Emily E. Ryan.
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Book description
Oh, the boredom of waiting to grow up! Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and sex, aristocratic Linda Radlett, her sisters and Cousin Fanny fantasize about the perfect lover, but Mr Right proves hard to find. Linda must face years with…

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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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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Average: (3.87)
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2 14
2.5 8
3 67
3.5 29
4 145
4.5 15
5 78

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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