In a nutshell: a less good version of I Capture the Castle
How long: 4 days
Where I finished it: in a den of wet washing with the cat
Favourite quote: It could not be said, thought Linda, as the train pursued its way through the blackness, that her life so far had been a marked success.
Would I read it again: Nope
I had high expectations of this book – the Mitford sisters fit right in with my new favourite genre of outspoken intelligent females and the quote on the back was really rather funny. I’d also paid full price for it (on a gift card) as part of my ill-fated trip to Waterstones so it had to provide seven times the value of the usual second hand books I buy just to justify its price tag.
This book, like most of Nancy Mitford’s, is loosely based on her family life. The Mitfords were a well off family around in the middle part of the 20th century, part of the very fashionable London set, who then ended up on different ideological sides of the First World War. And because I’m really bad at writing synopses of books I’ll wimp out and instead tell you it’s basically I Capture the Castle but with more money and a longer timeframe.
I think I would have got along better with this book if it had been made clear right from the get go that the story was about Linda, not about Fanny, even though she was the narrator. Unfortunately, as this isn’t made clear, I got a bit confused about where the book was heading and what I was supposed to be interested in which lessened my enjoyment in it quite a lot. I also felt very little sympathy for Linda. Usually I’m a huge fan of the overly emotional impetuous female heroine but Linda seemed more like a selfish child who’d never grown up, nowhere near the depth of character of Neely O’Hara or Marianne Dashwood.
Also, I really don’t need my books to make fun of me. I mean really, how many people nowadays just happen to be fluent in French? I for one am not; almost everything I learnt in my year 8 French classes has now been pushed out my brain to make room for grown-up things – cocktail recipes and a mental map of Britain’s motorway system. Which meant that when the book slipped into French for a sentence or two it completely passed me by. I’m sure ‘dieu, que le son du boa est triste au fond du cor’ is a hilarious anecdote but I’ll never know why. And when I’m sat reading something as posh and cultured as this book I don’t need it to remind me that I’m just a lower-middle class girl from the Midlands.
So no, overall I am rather let down by this book. My love affair with the Mitford sisters is over before it even began.