The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate Paperback – 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Loosley based on Nancy's own family and childhood experiences ("The Pursuit of Love" more so), these stories revolve around the Radletts: an eccentric (to put it lightly) upper-class English family in the 1920's and 30's. Nancy has created a whole world of characters, each indicative of their time and their caste.
I read these books a few years ago, and then read the 2 new biographies of the Mitford girls, and then re-read these novels. I actually enjoyed them even more the second time! It was fun to be able to pick out which anecdotes and experiences were "real."
If you are interested in two light, funny novels then definately read these. Despite what other reviewers have said, they are not "great literature." The writing is sort of uneven and sometimes sloppy, and some of the dialogue is a little stiff. However, they are still laugh-out-loud funny stories about the eccentricities of English upper-class life between the world wars. If you like these novels then you should also read Winifred Watson's "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day."
At the other extreme is Lady Montdore, one of the more fascinating characters of "Love in a Cold Climate". She has everything Linda lacks: power, position, and money. But she is cold. When little Polly Montdore arrives in this world, her perfect beauty is used merely to further Lady Montdore's ambition. But Polly will grow up to be a prodigal daughter, breaking ties with her family and throwing away her inheritance to marry "Mr. Wrong".
Mitford's superb story-telling abilities offer levity and substance to lucky readers. While presenting a bird's-eye view of upper class European culture before and during WWII, Mitford simultaneously explores the conflict between the practical and romantic life.
This conflict is illustrated through the primary character of each of the novels. Two sides of the same coin, Linda and Lady Montdore both consider marriage to be the main event in a woman's life. Linda wants love, a physical and spiritual connection with a man; to her, that is marriage. A marriage license is just governmental red tape, almost useless, totally unromantic.
Lady Montdore views marriage as the only decent career for a woman.Read more ›
The attitude of racial and class determination, is no where more honestly expressed than in this semi autobiographical two novel collection. The wife of a very dull former secretary to India put it well,"I think I may say we put India on the map. Hardly any of one's friends in England had even heard of India before we went there, you know." If you don't find that funny, you probably won't enjoy the book, which is very sad, because if it works, it's an absurdist's dream come true.
The Pursuit of Love introduces us to the Radlett family, the children of Lord and Lady Alconleigh (thinly disguised and exaggerated versions of Lord and Lady Redesdale). The heroine is Linda, a romantic and lovely girl who dreams of perfect love. She marries a dull young man, leaves him for a handsome zealot who has no time for her, and finally finds love (and tragedy) with an urbane Frenchman. This is obviously a semi-autobiographical sketch of Nancy Mitford's own early years. The other Radletts are composites and exagerrations of Nancy's own sisters and friends.
Love in a Cold Climate focuses on the viccisitudes of Polly Hampton, a neighbor of the Alconleighs who has similar troubles in love. It features a couple of obviously gay characters (which must have been pretty controversial in the 1940s)and continue's Mitford's theme of the search for love.
Both novels are narrated by the Radlett's cousin Fanny Logan, whose own placid life and happy marriage make nice contrasts to all the troubles she sees going on around her. The writing is sparkling and bright but not shallow, and while both novels have somewhat sad endings (Pursuit more so than Cold Climate), you will enjoy and want to reread them many times.
Most recent customer reviews
My book arrived very quickly, but it is clearly not "new" as advertised. It's a bit banged up and looks used, so it was a bit too expensive for that level of quality.Published 6 months ago by Carrie Hildebrand
I am on a binge of Edwardian lit since Gosford Park came out and have searched out old and new books about this period. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2013 by Judy Postello
These two semi-autobiographical books are well-combined into one volume as they deal with many of the same litterae personae. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2005 by Bronwyn
It was a stroke of pure brilliance that caused Nancy Mitford to write this literary masterpiece. A simple yet elegant story, taking place in the early 1900's. Read morePublished on June 7 2004 by pinkbubbles
Is Nancy Mitford likeable? Perhaps not, if her alter-ego, Linda Radlett, is anything to go by. Rarely are we asked to care about a character who despises children and judges... Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2002 by villekulla
I read Mary Lovell's great book about the Mitford sisters and wanted to read these books by Nancy. My library had taken them out of circulation because "Nobody reads Nancy Mitford... Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2002 by A reader
I wish Nancy Mitford had written more! These are two of the best books I've ever read.Published on March 12 2002
The Thin End of the Wedge
Two pre-requisites for reading this delightful familial saga, love and marriage. Read more