Love in a Cold Climate
by Nancy Mitford

Mitford 2013-03-07 at 6.38.05 PMPolly Hampton, the greatest beauty and the greatest heiress of the London season, harbors a secret love in a lost world of English upper-class elegance and endearing eccentricity.

Opening lines:  I am obliged to begin this story with a brief account of the Hampton family, because it is necessary to emhasise the fact once and for all that the Hamptons were very grand as well as very rich.  A short session with Burke or with Debrett would be quite enough to make this clear, but these large volumes are not always available, while the books on the subject by Lord Montdore’s brother-in-law, Boy Dougdale, are all out of print.  His great talent for snobbishness and small talent for literature have produced three detailed studies of his wife’s forebears, but they can be read now by asking a bookseller to get them at second hand. . . .

Quotes from critics:  “Unabashedly snobbish and devastatingly witty, Miss Mitford achieved enormous success and popularity as one of Britain’s most piercing observers of social manners. (The New York Times); “A refreshment to the mind and the spirit. . . . Cunningly constructed, artfully written, and divinely farcical.” (The New York Times Book Review); “Mitford tells her story with much wit, intelligence, and polish.” (The Times (London); “Deliciously funny.” (Evelyn Waugh)

Bio:  Nancy Mitford (1904-1973), daughter of Lord and Lady Redesdale and the eldest of the six legendary Mitford sisters, was born in 1904 and educated at home on the family estate in Oxfordshire.  .  .  .  “I grew up as ignorant as an owl,” according to Mitford, “came out in London and went to a great many balls.  She soon became one of the Bright Young Things of the 1920s and a self-styled “intellectual snob.” . . . A beauty and a wit, . . . Mitford fell in love with three unsatisfactory men:  a homosexual (for five years), a delinquent bore (married twenty-five years), and an unrequited love (for over 30 years).  (quoted from www.nancymitford.com)  Also the author of four biographies, she is the subject of several biographies.

Also worth reading:  The Blessing.  Grace Allingham’s marital problems with her dashing aristocratic husband, Charles-Edouard are exacerbated by the machinations of “The Blessing,” that is, her son Sigismund.