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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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1,243416,384 (3.89)149
Title:The Pursuit of Love
Authors:Nancy Mitford
Other authors:Zoë Heller (Introduction)
Info:Penguin (2010), Edition: Re-issue, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites

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The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945)

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» See also 149 mentions

English (34)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All (41)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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 |
You hear now and then about this book or about [b:Love in a Cold Climate|7826761|Love in a Cold Climate|Nancy Mitford|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320508669s/7826761.jpg|23641365], but you should hear about it more, and we all know why we don't. Hint: it's because Mitford is a woman. And this is probably very quickly written off as a woman's book. I've heard it called "light" because it's about a woman and her different relationships. And to me it's not actually as "light" as all that. Yes, it's got a very quick and conversational tone, and that's a credit to Mitford because she pulls it off expertly, and yes, our heroine likes to laugh and likes to chat about things that aren't heavy and important in the face of a war. But that does not diminish the wonderful texture and art of this story. It reminded me a lot of Turgenev's [b:Fathers and Sons|19117|Fathers and Sons|Ivan Turgenev|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1390793535s/19117.jpg|1294426], because what's essential is the backdrop, the changing social classes and mores, the generational differences and dealing with contemporary events that drastically alter the world the characters live in. In this case, the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War.

And you might say, while I'm comparing this book to F&S, that Bazarov's nihilism puts it on a different philosophical level, but I wouldn't listen to anyone say that Linda's character makes any lesser social statement. The exchange she has with Fabrice about laughing during sex is radical, okay? But Mitford doesn't hit you over the head with it. That conversational quality makes it seem you're the one behind if you get held back by these ideas.

This was a joy to read, and I'm getting on to Love in a Cold Climate next. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
A splendid look at the lifestyle of the upper classes between the wars: the unschooled children allowed free rein by indulgent elders; the unwanted children abandoned to more appreciative relatives; the aristocratic eccentricities. All of these Mitford was familiar with and she portrays them with the accuracy of personal knowledge. These richly drawn characters could have no other origins but her own family. The dismal conditions and despair of the war contrasted sharply with what had been a dignified, blissful life for the Radletts. Linda Radlett, pursued love without being aware of what it meant. A beautifully written novel by one of the famed Mitford sisters. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Mar 1, 2017 |
Narrated by cousin Fanny, this is the story of the wild Radlett children, but primarily that of dreamy romantic Linda Radlett. From childhood, to a teenage marriage, through travels and affairs, Fanny and Linda remain each other's confidants.
That seems like a too simple plot summary for a story that is funny and moving and so engaging. ( )
  mstrust | Jan 18, 2017 |
Humour pouring out of sentences, this is a good read. It also makes you ponder, what is happiness? Is it the intense but short-lived happiness experienced by Linda or the simple contentment felt by Fanny and Louise? ( )
  siok | Sep 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nancy Mitfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fox, EmiliaNarratorsecondary 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.'
Last words
(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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