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The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels [Paperback]

Nancy Mitford
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Lit with basis in truth Jan. 10 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am on a binge of Edwardian lit since Gosford Park came out and have searched out old and new books about this period. Nancy Mitford is a great one to read since she lived it at its most eccentric.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Funny July 15 2004
By Megan
Two brilliantly funny books for the price of one. How could you go wrong?
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."
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Prodigal Daughters June 24 2003
By Tethys
These novels explore the duality of love: romantic and practical. On one extreme is Linda, the reckless heroine of "The Pursuit of Love". Due to her wild upbringing, she's unprepared for marriage and the drudgery of daily living. After two unsuccessful marriages she ponders her failure: "Where now was love that would last to the grave and far beyond?" This crisis sparks the beginning of a relationship so shocking and uninhibited, so dionysian, she cannot even tell her own mother and father what she's done. Linda is...the prodigal daughter.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old school English humour with heart Jan. 5 2005
These two semi-autobiographical books are well-combined into one volume as they deal with many of the same litterae personae. Nancy Mitford is at her best here; one cannot help but laugh at the witty dialogue and idiosyncratic characters she produces. The often unlikeable heroines, around whom the novels revolve, were born into the gilded world of the British aristocracy, and serve as easy prey for Mitford's biting satire. However, despite their frequent pitfalls, the reader's heart will most certainly go out to them.
If you enjoy these two books, you would do well to read The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell. This book, while often somewhat overly sympathetic to the Mitfords, provides interesting insights to fans of Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A literary masterpiece June 8 2004
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. Witty, tragic, and romantic, you will rejoice with the Alconleighs' success, and sigh at their failures, and laugh all the time in between. Immensely well-written, it was an excellent story and a true classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars To the manor born Nov. 19 2002
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 others entirely by their clothing. However, The Pursuit of Love is essential reading for two reasons: one, it gives an apparently unselfconscious portrait of the author; and two, it lays the foundation for your reward, Love in a Cold Climate. Almost entirely Linda-Free, this book focusses its laser beam on vanity, classism, and misguided sexuality. Much like the films of Spike Lee, it seems that Ms. Mitford's work is smarter than she is. But the Lecherous Lecturer gets the fate he deserves, and that covers a multitude of sins.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This was the way it was! Aug. 7 2002
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 any more."
I immediately ordered this edition from Amazon and read it in almost one sitting. I liked "The Pursuit of Love" best, but both were excellent in describing life in England between the wars for this eccentric upper class family. There were many laugh-out-loud moments as another reviewer has written.
I would suggest that you read Lovell's book first so you know the background of some of the events. Details may differ, but the story is the same. What an interesting group of people!
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