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The Pursuit of Love / Love in a Cold Climate…
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The Pursuit of Love / Love in a Cold Climate

by Nancy Mitford

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1,387279,238 (4.08)232
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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A slower, more meditative pace inhabits ‘The Pursuit of Love’ by Nancy Mitford, less frenetic than her earlier novels. More fond, less satirical. Fanny Logan narrates this story of the Radlett family and, in particular, her cousin Linda’s pursuit of love.
The teenage Linda and sisters, and cousin Fanny who visits the Radletts at the fading freezing family pile, Alconleigh in the Cotswolds, want to grow up now. They are obsessed by sex and romance whilst being woefully ignorant of the practicalities. The reality, however, is more difficult and less romantic than they imagined. They form a secret society The Hons. When not out hunting, The Hons spend hours in a large warm cupboard gossiping about love and Fanny’s disreputable mother, ‘The Bolter’, who abandoned her daughter to pursue love. Fanny, raised by her Aunt Emily and stepfather Davey, spends all her holidays at Alconleigh with Uncle Matthew and Aunt Sadie and their family.
As with all Mitford novels there are many laugh-out-loud moments. Alconleigh is an eccentric world where Uncle Matthew rules his staff and family; he despises foreigners, Catholics, the nouveaux riche and people who say ‘perfume’ instead of ‘scent’. Desperate to find true love and not follow the family black sheep – The Bolter – into leapfrogging from affair to affair, the cousins are woefully naïve and unprepared for meeting men. Linda sums up true love, ‘it was like seeing somebody in the street who you think is a friend, you whistle and wave and run after him, and it is not only not the friend, but not even very like him. A few minutes later the real friend appears in view, and then you can’t imagine how you ever mistook that person for him.’
Published in 1945, the story starts in the Thirties and runs through the Spanish Civil War and the start of World War Two and The Blitz. The Radletts may be ‘hons’ but they suffer and slings and arrows of fortune in love. Fanny is the narrator of the family’s story and we are treated to occasional morsels about her own love and life. Like Nick Carraway in ‘The Great Gatsby’, the story therefore includes Fanny’s own interpretation of affairs as well as her recounting of Linda’s own stories.
This is a tale of lost aristocracy, and the levelling effects of love and war. Funny, witty and sharp featuring an absent parenting style completely alien today, ‘The Pursuit of Love’ has at its heart a strong streak of sadness and tragedy. No matter who you are, love cannot always be found; if found, it cannot always be retained.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Feb 17, 2020 |
The Pursuit of Love:
Within a couple of pages of starting this novel by Nancy Mitford, I ran into a description of a child-hunt, where the narrator's Uncle Matthew would hold an actual child hunt with huge braying hounds chasing two little girls across the country-side; no this isn't The Hunger Games and the little girls loved it and the neighbors thought Uncle Matthew was crazy. Thus starts this novel which was absolutely delightful! Lots of laugh-out-loud moments, but it was also a bit wistful, following along the narrator's cousin in her pursuit of love.

Love in a Cold Climate:
A companion novel to The Pursuit of Love, this novel has many of the same characters. It has the same narrator, and covers a period of time that overlap The Pursuit of Love. This time we follow the narrator's friend, the beautiful Polly (Leopoldina actually - her mother rather hoped she might marry royalty), and covers Polly growing up and her mother's efforts trying to marry her off. As with the previous novel, we get to see a lot of what pre-WWII London society was like. Another lovely novel that makes me a big Nancy Mitford fan. ( )
  LisaMorr | May 24, 2019 |
In the time period between the two world wars, Fanny observes the foibles and follies of her friends and family as they endeavor to find and keep true love.

I've had this book in my possession for years and was very much looking forward to reading it. I was excited to finally do so when my book group chose the first title for one of our discussions. (Side note: this book definitely made for interesting discussions.) The two titles were certainly interconnected, although reading them in order doesn't seem to be strictly necessary. Personally, I think having both stories running together in one continuous narrative would have been better, but alas that's not what Mitford chose to do.

However, I did like Mitford's writing style overall and the characters she created were interesting and compelling on the whole. Also, so few books seem to be about this time period, written with the author's knowledge that the peace will not last, imbuing a sense of sadness to it all while remaining in the "now" of the narrative. Mitford's endings are a little 'huh' but I suppose that adds to why these books will continue to be read and talked about for generations. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Dec 26, 2018 |
It's still so very funny. Do admit.
  PollyMoore3 | Feb 1, 2016 |
Wickedly funny family stories, drawn very much from Mitford's life. Great satire, well delivered. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 20, 2015 |
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To Gaston Palewski (Pursuit of Love)
To Lord Berners (Love in a Cold Climate)
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There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children round the tea-table at Alconleigh. (The Pursuit of Love)
I am obliged to begin this story with a brief account of the Hampton family, because it is necessary to emphasize the fact once and for all that the Hamptons were very grand as well as very rich. (Love in a Cold Climate)
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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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