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The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

The Pursuit of Love (original 1945; edition 2010)

by Nancy Mitford, Zoë Heller (Introduction)

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978None8,776 (3.93)89
Title:The Pursuit of Love
Authors:Nancy Mitford
Other authors:Zoë Heller (Introduction)
Info:Penguin (2010), Edition: Re-issue, Paperback, 224 pages
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The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945)


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English (18)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Halfway through I nearly didn't finish. I had somehow lost interest, but since it's rather short I decided to keep going. Having just finished all I can say is what. I knew it was going to have an unhappy ending, but I am nearly teary. It's been ages since a book has made me even a bit teary, and for that it gets four starts. Lots of reviews have mentioned this book's humor, and while I suppose I can understand where those reviews are coming from, to me this book was almost entirely sad. These women's lives seemed so pointless, and I know it was the era in which they lived and I am grateful for the opporunities I have available to me today. I'm not even very sure I liked the characters in this book, but I did feel sorry for them.

Quotes I did like -- "I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened." So true! And,
"Apart from the life of the intellect and the contemplative religious life, which few people are qualified to enjoy, what else is there to distinguish man from the animals but his social life?"

I am not sure now if I want to read [b:Love in a Cold Climate|372811|Love in a Cold Climate|Nancy Mitford|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1174251844s/372811.jpg|19077724] - this one was too devastating. Still, it's recommended. ( )
  abookishcorner | Mar 4, 2014 |
Found the title in The Uncommon Reader. Quite fun. Quirky family in the English countryside. Just my sort of thing. Three and a half stars. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
This book was nothing like I thought it would be. I found it to be a funny book with quirky characters. The narrator is Fanny and the story is about her cousin Linda pursuing love. It begins when they are children and describes what life was like at the family home Alconleigh. Uncle Matthew who believes that hunting is the way of life; and even hunts for his children to give the hounds something to look for; Aunt Sadie who puts up with Uncle Matthew; the seven Radlett children - including Linda; Linda jealous of Fanny for having wicked parents that left her to be raised by Aunt Emily. As children Linda was in love with the Prince of Wales and Fanny with a farmer. Eventually Fanny and Linda both marry, but only Fanny stays with her husband. Linda's missteps at love is the focus of the story. I found myself very fond of Linda. Growing up she wasn't taught to cook or clean, but to hunt and ride horses. I found the book very funny. It shows a lot of British society around WWII. Linda fit in with certain groups that liked to chat, but in others she fell flat and was a disappointment. ( )
  i.should.b.reading | Mar 29, 2013 |
A charming look at love in all its manifestations, from romantic to bourgeois and finally to true love: Linda is constantly led by her many sweeping emotions. Mitford, however, looks at it from a detached, humorous yet sympathetic eye; never does the story through its many meanders turn to melodrama or social judgements. The tale stays light and forgiving as it describes with a certain cynicism a now foregone society.
A wonderful story ( )
  Cecilturtle | Feb 11, 2013 |
Nancy Mitford's semi-autobiographical Pursuit of Love is an interesting book, a kind of upper-class British farce with a streak of melancholia and shrewdness running underneath.

The Radletts are unconventional, even by the standards of literary interwar British aristocracy. Linda and cousin Fanny spend their days dreaming of falling in love whilst Lord Radlett literally hunts them across the properties. As the years tick by, narrator Fanny loses her childish dreams, but Linda pursues them with a frenzy.

I enjoyed this book. Fanny is an affectionate, yet discerning narrator - easily able to see the foibles in her family and just easily love them. This is not exactly a light comedy a la Heyer or Wodehouse - though it shares much of their arch tone. Nor is it Brideshead Revisited or similar deconstructions. In truth, it's a combination of the two, and it reminded me more than anything of Trollope in some ways - though it's much breezier and forthrightly humorous.

The book also covers a long period of time, beginning shortly after the end of WWI, and finishing around WWII's conclusion. Again, this passage of years is unusual for a comedic British novel, and it did lend the book a somewhat bittersweet edge. Underpinning Linda's romantic shenanigans is a story of frustration, disappointment, and in many ways ill-treatment. This - and Fanny's sideways acknowledgements of it - give the book a dissonant tone. It's not a bad thing, but it definitely breaks the novel out of genre, I feel.

For all this, one thing that's wholly unquestioned is class. Money is no object to the Radletts in the sense that it's not something to even be considered, ever - and the wads of cash financing their many adventures is never really considered nor commented on, but rather viewed as a natural state. It's an interesting ellipsis in an otherwise sharp-eyed book.

The Pursuit of Love is decidedly a pursuit - it's a fast-paced novel that gets through a hell of a lot in its 200-odd pages. With such slender demands on a reader, there's certainly enough here to justify a read. ( )
  patrickgarson | Feb 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nancy Mitfordprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edinga, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fox, EmiliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Singer, MalvinCover artistsecondary 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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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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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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