Fanny is married to absent-minded Oxford don Alfred and content with her role as a plain, tweedy housewife. Then her life changes when Alfred is appointed English Ambassador to Paris. Fanny is suddenly mixing with royalty, Rothschilds and Dior-clad wives, throwing cocktail parties and having every indiscreet remark printed in the papers. This leaves her far too busy to worry about the diplomatic crisis looming on the horizon. Don’t Tell Alfred continues the histories of the characters Nancy Mitford introduced in The Pursuit of Love.
Reviewed by Laura Freeman in Slightly Foxed Issue 61.
The Paris Effect
Brimming. That was how I spent my first weeks in Paris. Brimming with tears at the smallest setback. For Nancy Mitford’s Northey in Don’t Tell Alfred, dispatched to Paris to be secretary to Fanny Wincham, the new Madame l’Ambassadrice at the British Embassy, it is the ‘cruel food’ of France that sets her off. Beef consommé. Brimming. Lobster. Brimming. Foie gras. Brimming. ‘A Frenchman on board told me what they do to sweet geese for pâté de foie gras,’ says Northey at dinner on her first night at the Ambassador’s Residence. ‘Very wrong and stupid of him,’ says Fanny . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 61, Spring 2019
The Paris Effect
Brimming. That was how I spent my first weeks in Paris. Brimming with tears at the smallest setback. For Nancy Mitford’s Northey in Don’t Tell Alfred, dispatched to Paris to be secretary to Fanny...Read more
Shrieks and Floods
It’s been hard to avoid the Mitfords recently. A collected edition of the letters of Jessica (‘Decca’) was published in 2006. The following year another collection, this time of the letters...Read more
Left, Left, Left
In the early 1980s I began working on my first book, a biography of Nancy Mitford. Four of the six Mitford sisters were then still living, Pamela in the Cotswolds, Diana in Paris with her second...Read more
Jessica Mitford found the act of sitting down to write formidably hard. ‘’Tis now 12:30 on the first day I was to really work all day on the book,’ she reported to her husband and daughter in...Read more