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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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1,361268,576 (4.08)210
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This book was originally published in 1945 then paired up with [Love in a Cold Climate] in 1982 and made its way to my shelf the year that Borders had their Going Out of Business Sale, whenever that was. Anyway, why it has languished on my shelf for so long is another mystery of my reading life that will go unanswered. I loved Mitford’s witty writing and the description of the UK between the wars was incredibly well done and reminded me in many ways of my recently completed reading of [The Cazalet Chronicles].
The narrative is relayed by Fanny, daughter of the ubiquitous The Bolter, named for her tendency to leave one husband (and child) after another and bolt to someone else. Fanny lives with her Aunt Sadie and brash Uncle Matthew who scares the living daylights of most people but can usually be prodded to comply with reasonable requests like a great big teddy bear. We all know someone like that.

Fanny relates the story of her cousin Linda, Sadie and Matthew’s daughter, who is frantically searching for love. She marries twice, both times in a mistaken fog of love. Meanwhile WWII is raging and effecting everyone in one way or another but Mitford’s wry wit comes through page after page:

“The food Sadie, it’s the food. I know how difficult it is for you in wartime, but we are all, in turns, being poisoned. I was sick for hours last night, the day before Emily had diarrhea, Fanny has that great spot on her nose, and I’m sure the children aren’t putting on the weight they should. The fact is, dear, that if Mrs. Beecher were a Borgia she could hardly be more successful---all that sausage mince is poison, Sadie. I wouldn’t complain if it were merely nasty, or insufficient, or too starchy, one expects that in war, but actual poison does, I feel, call for comment.” (Page 191)

How I love this kind of droll commentary. It will win me over to your point of view regardless of how well done the narrative is. The characters are all well drawn, but hardly sympathetic. Linda is not the type of character who would attract understanding. But I loved this book and look forward to going on to its companion book, [Love in a Cold Climate]. ( )
  brenzi | Jan 30, 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 |
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. ( )
1 vote amandajoy30 | Feb 16, 2012 |
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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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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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