Wait for Me! by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire

I have been waiting months to read this, as it seems the entire membership of the New York Public Library was in line to read it before me, and they well and truly took their time! However, the wait was absolutely worthwhile and I was enthralled throughout this delightful volume of memoirs from the last surviving Mitford sister. I adore reading everything I can about the eccentric, witty, unconventional and beautiful Mitford sisters, whose lives spanned the tumultuous 20th century and who counted Hitler, Churchill, JFK and the Prince of Wales, among others, as their friends. Debo, the youngest of the clan, never courted fame or controversy like her older sisters; she married Andrew, second son of the Duke of Devonshire, at 21, and settled down to what she thought would be an unremarkable existence as an officer’s wife. Little did she know that three years later Andrew’s older brother Billy, married to JFK’s sister Kick Kennedy, would be killed in action, and that at 30, she and her beloved Andrew would become the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and responsible for some of the largest and most prestigious country estates in England.

Debo, now in her nineties, uses Wait for Me! as her opportunity to debunk many of the myths about the Mitford clan that have sprung up through the exagerrations of real life people Nancy used in her novels, and the outlandish claims of Decca in her often fictionalised memoirs of her childhood. The early chapters focus on her experience of growing up; of her relationships with her parents and siblings and the household staff, of the variety of ever shabbier homes the family lived in, of the shooting parties and dances and the glamour of 1930’s society. Debo was 16 years younger than Nancy, and was still in her teens when Diana ran off with Oswald Mosley and Unity went off to Germany and fell in love with Hitler. She barely knew these glamorous, beautiful older sisters, who called her ‘Stubby’ and ‘Nine’ because of her short legs and supposed stupidity (Nancy coined the ‘nine’ nickname as she thought it was Debo’s permanent mental age). It’s interesting how all of the drama and unhappiness of this time seemed to largely wash over Debo’s head; she was more interested in her London season and going to parties and balls and meeting eligible young men.

Debo really comes into her own when she describes her life as a wife and as the Duchess of Devonshire. I found myself moved in several places as she described the struggles of her husband’s alcoholism, the sad deaths of those she loved in the war, the devastation of losing three of her children shortly after their births, and of the deaths of her parents and sisters as she reached her seventies and found herself the only one left of the once sprawling Mitford clan. She has a very matter of fact writing style, and does not go in for lots of gory details, melodrama or displays of emotion, but she manages to convey just how deeply her experiences impacted her life in just a few well chosen words, proving that Nancy’s dimissive ‘Nine’ nickname was certainly nowhere near the truth.

I loved the tales of Debo’s mingling with the great and good, finding herself intimate friends with JFK due to her friendship with his sister, spending weekends with the Prince of Wales, playing host to the likes of Evelyn Waugh and Duncan Grant; it was a charmed life, and the most endearing thing about Debo is that she knows it was, and is grateful for it. There is no sense of smug entitlement, or of the blase, about these memoirs; Debo’s sense of awe and her knowledge of her good fortune, and frequent assertion that she was not in any way deserving of it, is refreshing to read in our days of self serving celebrity. She traveled extensively, hobnobbed with the stars, was present at JFK’s inauguration and funeral and the Queen’s coronation, and did all this while running the massively successful Chatsworth estate, bringing up three children and taking part in the variety of charitable and ceremonial activities expected as part of her role as the wife of one of the most senior peers. She was, and is, quite the woman.

Debo doesn’t judge or condemn any of her sisters for their controversial views, apart from Nancy, who she found out, after her death, had been the reason why her most beloved sister Diana was imprisoned during the war. She separates their views from their personalities, and to her, they were just her wonderful, often maddening, but always beloved, sisters, and their extreme views are not of interest to her, or worth discussing. She is very sympathetic towards Diana and Unity, and this seems to have enraged a previous reader of my library copy, who has written rather hilariously snarky comments in big black capitals next to every mention Debo makes of Diana’s kindness etc with comments such as ‘OH REALLY? WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT SHE WAS A NAZI AND DENIED THE HOLOCAUST?!” etc. I thought this was a bit much. I love my older sister to distraction, and if she decided to become a Nazi tomorrow, that love for her wouldn’t change; you can disagree with someone’s viewpoints and still love them, and I admire Debo for writing about her sisters with affection and equanimity despite their difficult and unpopular political standpoints.

All in all, this is a lovely, fascinating and warm memoir, written at an emotional distance that perhaps some wouldn’t like – used, as we are, to the tell-all memoirs that have become popular in recent years – but I wasn’t expecting Debo to be overly candid, and as such, I wasn’t disappointed by this. The main interest I have in Debo is in her relationship with her sisters and how she performed her duties as a Duchess and went about turning around the fortunes of Chatsworth House, and this delivered the goods in every department. I don’t need to know the nitty gritty of her marriage, or of her relationship with her children, and I wouldn’t expect her to be overly personal about such things when she has an extensive family who are still alive and could be offended by excessive amounts of disclosure about their personal lives. I loved Debo’s voice, I loved her generous, wise, grateful and matter of fact outlook on life, and her wonderfully funny anecdotes of her friendships with some of the most interesting people to grace the 20th century. She comes across as a thoroughly lovely woman, devoted to her family, friends, staff, and land, and her simple goodness has never been touched or changed by the privilege she has humbly enjoyed for so many years. It was refreshing to read, and a delight from start to finish. Highly recommended!

Also, I totally forgot to announce the winner of Life in Miniature from weeks ago, sorry – Mystica, congratulations! Please email me with your address!

53 comments

  1. I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoyed this! I have to admit that my copy has been sitting on its shelf unread for some time now, though I have paged through it several times already and have been delighted by the excerpts I’ve read. I can’t wait to devote my full attention to it, hopefully quite soon!

  2. This sounds so interesting, but I have to admit: my loyalty to my sister would not survive her denial/collaboration in the deaths of millions of innocent people. New York is full of the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors – I’m guessing their brains nearly explode when they read Debo’s glossing over her sisters’ willful denial of so much suffering.

    1. Well I don’t think Debo glosses it over – she just chooses not to go into it, which I think was probably the wisest tack to take. Debo is fiercely loyal to each of her sisters despite their controversial views and I think any attempt she would have made to excuse them or condemn them would not have been received well. She doesn’t say that she didn’t care about Diana’s political views or agreed with them or anything like that, she just paints a portrait of Diana as a kind, caring and loving woman, which I am sure she was, alongside being a Nazi. Debo portrays the Diana she knew, and that Diana clearly wasn’t spouting Nazi vitriol every minute of the day. I think it’s difficult for those of us who didn’t know these people to make judgements – I have no idea how involved Diana was in the Nazi party or exactly what her views were, so I can’t really comment on that. However what I do know is that the blind love of family ties can forgive a lot, and I think Debo chose to not see the sides of Diana she didn’t agree with in order to have a relationship with her.

  3. I just knew you would enjoy this, Rachel.

    Charlie Rose did a delightful interview with her this fall. It was touching in that he seemed somewhat smitten with her. She is charming and candid. I don’t have the link – will try to find it – but, if you Googled Charlie Rose and Deborah Mitford or the book title, you should be able to find it.

    I think Nancy’s betrayal bothered me the most. She was spiteful and mean. Don’t get me wrong, Diana’s relationship with Hitler was troublesome indeed, but Nancy riled me. In Pursuit of Love, however, sits on my TBR pile and I plan on reading it soon.

    Thanks for another good review.

    1. Thank you for mentioning that interview, Penny – I will be sure to look it up. It sounds wonderful.

      Yes I’m not sure how I feel about that. Without knowing Nancy’s side of the story I don’t want to judge, but considering that the British Fascist Party never had a hope in hell of getting any power and Diana was hardly Hitler’s right hand man, it does seem strange that Nancy would have considered Diana ‘dangerous’ enough to be imprisoned. However, I’m sure it hung on more than Nancy’s words, and it wasn’t her fault that they were imprisoned – they were very public figures and their views were well known. I did find it interesting though that Debo was more upset about Nancy’s actions than she was about Diana’s political views, which says a lot about the way the sisters’ relationships worked and what they were prepared to forgive and what they weren’t. Decca and Diana never spoke again after the war because of their political views.

  4. I am also fascinated by the Mitfords, and can’t wait to read this! I agree with Mumsy, though, that loyalty to my sibling probably wouldn’t survive such a denial/collaboration. In any case, nice review!

    1. Good, I hope you get it soon and enjoy it!

      I don’t know…I think I would love my sister the same – a sister is always a sister – but I certainly wouldn’t enjoy spending time with her. I think that Diana’s political views probably didn’t colour her personality or her behaviour towards those she loved, and I can’t imagine she talked to Debo much about them, which is why their relationship didn’t suffer because of it.

      Thank you!

  5. This sounds like a wonderful read and I can’t wait to read as much as possible from the most “normal” Mitford sister! Thanks for a great review!

  6. Hi, not the kind of book I would choose to read myself, but I really enjoyed your review and you make her sound such an interesting woman.
    thanks for sharing
    martine

  7. I’ve always been fascinated by the Mitford sisters – and sometimes repelled as well. This is the case with so many famous artists and writers: I feel I wouldn’t really have wanted to be anywhere near them, in spite of loving their work. (For instance, Rosamond Lehmann must have beenvery difficult to live with – but what tender and sympathetic writing).
    Imagine reaching 90 and writing so well!
    Thank you for inspiring me to read this – I’m so glad it’s out in paperback. and therefore affordable.

    1. Yes – I am fascinated and repelled in equal degree. I can’t fathom Diana and never will sympathise with her, but the others I enjoy reading about very much and can imagine they were frightfully good company!

      I hope you manage to get a copy Chrissy – it’s a very lovely, gossipy read and I’m sure you’ll love it!

  8. Rachel, I think you’re going to get some comments about Diana Mosley. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to deface a public library book (after all, I’m not Joe Orton–ha-ha!), I must say that I sympathize with the reader who didn’t care for Deborah’s soft-soaping of her sister’s Nazi sympathies. Also, I doubt that Jessica really had that much influence in Diana’s imprisonment; everyone knew Diana was a fascist and a Nazi–her husband was head of the British Fascist party. I don’t recall Jan Dalley’s biography of Diana implicating Jessica; Winston Churchill had a lot to do with Diana going to prison–after all, England was at war with Germany! Diana lived until she was in her 90s and never once acknowledged that she just might have been wrong about Hitler, WWII, and the holocaust. The fact that her son Max was not long ago videotaped in full Nazi regalia should tell you that her poisonous worldview lives in another generation. As for Unity, perhaps the kindest thing we can do for someone who suffered severe brain damage as a result of a botched suicide attempt is to say no more about them.

    /Sorry for the rant. Dismounting soapbox now!

    1. Oh yes, I suppose I am!

      It was Nancy, not Jessica, who implicated Diana, and I don’t think she had a lot to do with it either – I think the shock of Nancy’s decision to speak out against Diana was more of the issue than the actual imprisonment.

      I fully agree that Diana’s and Unity’s politics were odious and I am disgusted that Diana never acknowledged she was wrong to hold those views – don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t condone her behaviour whatsoever – but I think that Debo just wanted to portray the Diana SHE knew, and that Diana wasn’t a raging Nazi to her, but just her normal, loving, kind sister. From what I have gathered about Debo from reading this biography, she doesn’t carry strong political views and doesn’t enjoy discussing such topics, and with her sister now dead, what do we expect her to do? Drag her sister’s memory through the mud? I think it goes without saying that Debo didn’t agree with Diana’s politics, but she loved her just the same and the sister she knew intimately wasn’t a nasty, poisonous person. Which I can understand. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying I can appreciate where Debo is coming from.

  9. Oh, what a mean nickname! Poor little Debo. My older sister and I were sometimes mean to our little sister, but the meanest thing we called her was “baby brat” and that was a mean name-calling name, not a nickname.

    Do you think the age difference had to do with Debo’s willingness to forgive Diana but not Nancy? That she would have had less of a relationship with Nancy in the first place, fewer good memories to set against the bad things Nancy had done?

    1. Yes I think Nancy was very dismissive of Debo and I don’t think she ever quite got over that – I got the distinct impression that Nancy and Debo were never on particularly the best of terms.

      I think she had less of a relationship with Nancy anyway, and yes, the age difference must have been a big separator between them in the first place. Diana was always the beautiful, lovely one, and Debo appears to have admired her the most from a very young age. She held her up as a sort of goddess which is probably why she never could stop loving her despite what she did and believed. The fact that she condemned Nancy for her behaviour against Diana and branded her as ‘jealous’ confirms that for me – there was clearly more loyalty and love between Diana and Debo which made Debo able to overlook in a sense Diana’s politics and continue to have a relationship with her regardless. There are some VERY interesting family dynamics at play here and without knowing them personally it’s difficult to really work out what went on but reading between the lines I definitely think Diana was the ‘favourite’ sister and Debo never took her off that pedestal despite her Nazism.

  10. Ooh I’ve Hons and Rebels to read (a non chocolate Easter gift from my mother) so your review has really put me in the mood. Must hurry up reading my currnet book!

    1. Oooh I’m jealous, I’m longing to read that! Decca is my least favourite of the sisters but I can’t help but love her approach to life!

  11. This one is already on my list to hunt down, and you have made me want to get it sooner than later. Sounds wonderful – thanks for the great review!

  12. The family dynamics sound very interesting, and must have been tricky to negotiate. I remember once reading of the one and only Mitford brother that he could be a Communist when talking to Jessica, and a Fascist when talking to Diana.

    1. I always feel very sorry for their brother – what a childhood he must have had sandwiched in between 6 sisters! It’s a shame that Debo never really had a relationship with him due to the age gap between them – I have never learned all that much about him from the sisters’ memoirs.

  13. I loved this book. It was full of fascinating snippets, for instance, Debo’s passion for Elvis Presley. She emerges as a modest and lovable person who has led an exceptionally interesting life and writes about her family and her life with wit and warmth.

    Whether one likes them or not, there is no denying that they were one of the most fascinating families in the 20th century (I would include the Kennedy family as well) and how interesting that there is a family link between these two families.

    I find it sad that almost any review of Mitford books always ends up with acrimonious debate about Diana/Unity/ Mosley and their despicable political views. I am actually interested in WHY they held those views and why there was such a divergence of political views within the one family. I think you are right about Debo’s relationship with Diana. Really much the same as Decca still loving Unity despite their major political differences…

    As usual, a thoughtful and informative review. Thank you.

    1. Yes exactly. I wasn’t aware of the strength of the link between Debo and the Kennedy family either – I had no idea that JFK’s father had been the American Ambassador to Britain before the war.

      Yes – it’s a shame that any discussion seems to become overshadowed by that. It is probably a testament to the freedom allowed the girls that they became so passionately involved in political movements…but the disparate personalities are fascinating. I know not all siblings are alike, but the Mitford girls took things to the extreme!

      Thank you so much – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  14. Thanks so much for the win. Will email you separately. I have read a couple of books on the sisters – this is a gorgeous photograph!

    1. You’re welcome, Mystica! I hope you enjoy it.

      The photo is gorgeous isn’t it? I wish I had been born back then and could legitimately wear such dresses!

  15. Oh I am so glad you thoroughly enjoyed this but then again how could you not!? I was totally transfixed by how this family seemed to live in some ways as if they were poor but then ship white gloves off to Scotland for a cleaning after each wearing. Debo is such a fascinating woman, there isn’t many like her left so she will just have to live forever and keep writing stories.

    1. Yes exactly – such fascinating stories and tidbits – I loved the descriptions of their ‘poverty’ when really they owned several houses, including a place in the most expensive part of London – they were hardly struggling! However their attempts at economising made for good humour!

      Yes she really is the last of the old guard isn’t she? What wonderful lives they must have had.

  16. Hi Rachel, I absolutely loved this book. Despite being the youngest of the huge Mitford clan, and mostly ignored for years by her older siblings, Deborah came into her own and led a fascinating life. As the youngest and most “normal” sibling, she had an interesting perspective as an observer of her famous and eccentric siblings, and I think her story is valuable. And I love getting to know her in this book. She became the Duchess of Devonshire and she and her husband rescued and restored a magnificent property in England. She was friends with some of the major movers and shakers in the arts and politics of the time. She was quintessentially “English,” with her love of the hunt, her horses, and the land. I bought this book as soon as it came out, because I had read the other books about the Mitfords, as well as all the novels by Nancy, and couldn’t wait to hear the story of the life of the youngest, least mentioned sister. And not surprisingly she is a very good writer!

    1. I’m so glad you loved this too! Debo certainly had a unique – and largely unbiased – point of view and she witnessed so much. I so enjoyed seeing the wonderful world of the Mitfords through her eyes, as well as learning more about the duties of a Duchess – she certainly wasn’t spending her days sipping tea and being waited on hand and foot!

  17. Lovely review, Rachel, I knew you’d love this. Debo’s style, as you say, is so wonderfully matter-of-fact.

    And I’ll mention the part of your review that everyone else has! But I am completely agreeing with you, I was so pleased to see someone else express the same thing – I don’t think there is anything at all that my brother could do that would stop me loving him, or make me ostracise him. That’s what family is about. Which is why Jessica is the only Mitford sister I really can’t stand – because she refused to have anything to do with Diana.

    1. Thank you Simon! And I’m glad you agree – my brother and sister could never do anything that would stop me from loving them – familial love SHOULD be unconditional and I’m surprised that people have said they wouldn’t feel that way. You can hate the sin but love the sinner!

      Yes Jessica is the one Mitford sister I have never really understood – her behaviour just seems so strange and unMitford-like to me – it’s shocking that from the age of 17 she sort of cut all ties and didn’t seem to care – I don’t get that at all. I must read her own version of events one of these days.

  18. I knew Jessica Mitford, and was very fond of her. She had a point of view, too, and it really isn’t fair to condemn and judge her without knowing more about it. You cannot sweepingly take the view of Diana as the “good” sister and Jessica as “bad,” especially when Diana – hello? – was a Fascist and Nazi sympathizer. It’s extremely fine, natural, and admirable for Debo to be loyal to one who was such a good sister to her, but shouldn’t *we* be able to see her a little more dispassionately than that? She wasn’t our beloved sister; she was a person who believed it was right to kill Jews. And who staunchly defended Hitler as a sweetie till her dying day. Most here have only a partial, half view of the Mitford sisters. I’m not saying my view is right, or that there *is* any right view, but I have read virtually all the books about them and I did ask Jessica about her family, and why she couldn’t reconcile with them. “Because they were Nazis,” she said. “They still are.” I don’t assume that she was correct; clearly Debo was no Nazi, and Jessica herself was a Communist! But she had a sense of humor about it. I asked her how she managed to stay a Communist now that the Soviet Union had fallen. With a big twinkle in her eye she answered, “Well, that is the problem, isn’t it?” Anyway, here is what I suggest, before anybody takes up arms on any one side of the question. Thoroughly read “Letters Between Six Sisters,” and “Decca.” Back to back. That experience – though it’ll probably take a couple of months of reading bits at night – will deeply enlighten you about the interrelations and reactions of this family, which a quick reading of Debo’s fine but rather superficial book (she *is* 90!) cannot produce.

      1. Well, Diana was glamorous in the sense of being beautiful and in high society, but whitewashing her political views is not like overlooking it when a friend is a Democrat when you’re a Republican (or vice versa). I know, too, that Rachel and others are merely exploring the subject, and I would rather eat paint than be unpleasant on a truly wonderful and thoughtful forum like this, but it would be against what little conscience I possess not to gently underline that Rachel has written these words: “she just paints a portrait of Diana as a kind, caring and loving woman, which I am sure she was, alongside being a Nazi. Debo portrays the Diana she knew, and that Diana clearly wasn’t spouting Nazi vitriol every minute of the day.” I know, as sure as anything, that she merely wrote this unthinkingly, and didn’t mean it the way it sounds. But being kind “alongside being a Nazi” – well I’m sure Eva Braun was lovely to her loved ones too. Or, since that world is so long ago that someone of Prince Harry’s generation didn’t see why it would be offensive to dress as a Nazi, let’s give a modern analogy: If someone spouts racist rhetoric, and says publicly, for example, that people of the n-word race are inferior, and only does this for a few minutes a day – how can we say the racist is a wonderful person “except” for that, and his sister is right to overlook it? Be loyal to your sister, yes, but these are public people and Debo, if she does not condemn Diana’s truly evil views, is tacitly sharing them. Nazism has naturally faded for people born half a century later, but Debo and Diana were both there when what happened in the concentration camps was revealed in full to the world. We can’t say that we’d love and support our loved ones if they committed racist acts, because they don’t; the thing is inconceivable. Simon’s twin, or my family members, are not Diana Mosley and we can’t seriously even conceive how we’d feel or act if they somehow did turn into racists; they wouldn’t be them. I think, though, that even if my loved one was a racist, that many years later, in considered writing, while celebrating his kindness and good qualities, I would not try to minimize or excuse the racism. Words matter, and of all people in the world, Debo is of a family that has reason to know that. You can’t excuse or support evil, and Debo’s stance on this is troubling. I can’t condone what Nancy did, but I do at least partially condone what Jessica did. She removed herself from these people, and this kind of thinking. And she did try to make the world a better place.

    1. Thank you, Diana – you raise excellent points, though I assume you’re not directing them solely at me, as I certainly don’t consider Diana the ‘good’ sister and Jessica the ‘bad’ and I don’t think I gave that impression. From what I know of Jessica – how wonderful that you knew her! – she had a difficult personality that caused strained relations with her family before any of the issues to do with her sisters’ Nazism ever came up. That doesn’t make her a bad person, I have just never fully understood why she chose to cut herself off from her family for so long, and cause them hurt – Debo certainly seems to have been very hurt by Jessica’s decision to distance herself, and, as you say, she was definitely no Nazi. That is what I find hard to understand about her, considering how much the sisters managed to forgive amongst themselves over their long lives, but I certainly don’t consider her a bad person because of it.

      The glamourisation of Diana is shocking, I quite agree – I think people don’t like to believe that someone who was beautiful and lovely and popular could hold such awful views and not consider the deaths of so many people to be wrong. She has certainly been sanitised in a lot of the Mitford related books of late. As she was an English aristocrat, she seems to have been labelled as merely ‘eccentric’, whereas if she were German, I’m sure the public opinion of her would be far more vitriolic.

      I don’t have a fuzzy rose tinted view of Diana – I know exactly what she was and what she believed and I have no illusions. I just think that, in the context of Debo’s memoirs, her Nazism wasn’t important – it was about Debo’s memories of her as a sister, and clearly her political views didn’t come into it as far as Debo was concerned.

  19. I apologize, Rachel – I wrote the above before seeing your reply. I should of course have known you would not be defending Diana’s views. As for why Jessica did what she did, the best understanding of her can be gained from reading her letters, in Decca. That’s all.

    1. No need to apologise, Diana! I haven’t read Decca’s letters yet – I have them at my mum’s, but never got around to cracking them open. A Mitford project beckons when I am reunited with my books!

      I think I didn’t express myself in the best way…I am going to have a think about what you’ve written above and come back and reply later when I am at home. You’ve given me some food for thought!

  20. An interesting family! I read about them all last year, and I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the book. It’s about here somewhere…

    Debo was on a book show put out during national Book Week and hosted by Anne Robinson. There were two guests at a time, talking about special books from their childhood, favourite adult books etc. She was very interesting and nice and I wish I could remember the name of the programme so you could see if it was on iPlayer or something. Curse this failing memory of mine! I’ll see if I can hunt it down. I know you’d enjoy it.

    Nasty Nancy, to give her wee sister such a demeaning nickname! I’m glad it didn’t upset her!

    1. Probably the Mary S Lovell bio, Penny?

      Thanks so much for that link – for someone who claimed she never read anything, Debo has very good taste!

      1. That’s the one! Thanks, Rachel! John has just reminded me that she said on the show that she hasn’t cooked since the Second World War!

    1. Yes indeed! A real life and a pretend Duchess…and they make very different selections, unsurprisingly! I am intrigued by Debo’s choices I have to say…

  21. After reading your post, I found this in a charity shop on Sunday afternoon. I quickly snapped it up. Having spent much of my university days studying the Mitford sisters I’m looking forward to some recreational reading. I love Deborah – I think she is my favourite sister! x

    1. Lucky you! I wish I had my own copy! You STUDIED the Mitfords?! How amazing for you! I think Debo is probably my favourite sister too, though I also LOVE the sound of Pamela and would be interested to read more about her life – she seems to be somewhat neglected in the Mitford canon.

  22. This is going on my summer reading list along with ‘In Tearing Haste’. Debo just seems so gracious and delightful. Would love to know her. Amazing pictures of her and Stella Tennant (grand daughter) in… some magazine. Worst memory!

  23. Yes, yes, yes to all the reasons why you love the Mitfords and indeed why I have loved the forst half of this book. I simply cannot rush it and so am taking the book a chapter at a time here and there and loving every little break when things are a bit rubbish that I have with Debo. She is wondair.

  24. There’s just something about the Mitfords that keeps you hooked, isn’t there? I love Nancy’s novels but am also intrigued by both Diana and Unity and why they both chose the paths they did.

  25. Deborah says in ‘Wait for Me’ that she does not share he sisters’ racist views. It would be more true to say that her racist views are less extreme. In ‘Letters Between Six Sisters’, she moans about how there is an awful smell in Jessica’s house. She could not account for it until she heard they had black tenants.

    She and Diana also discus how upset Jessica must really have been that her daughter had become pregnant by a black man although she affected not to mind. In ‘Decca’, Jessica referred to Deborah as her ‘anti-Semitic sister’ who would not want to meet someone she had spoken to on the phone as he was called Mr Levi.

    It looks as if Jessica had unlikeable traits. She could be light fingered and was not averse to stubbing out cigarettes on people. But she showed some moral courage in the Civil Rights era and later. I don’t think I’d have liked her but she was the best of a bad bunch with the possible exception of vague Pam.

    Deborah’s attitudes on race may now be more enlightened than they were. But if she had intended to convey the impression that she was never at all racist, that would be a lie. I appreciate we all have things in our past we are now ashamed of.

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