When Grace Allingham, a naïve young Englishwoman, goes to live in France with her aristocratic husband Charles-Edouard, she finds herself overwhelmed by the different cuisine and the shockingly decadent manners and mores of the French. But it is the discovery of her husband’s notion of marriage – which includes a permanent mistress and a string of casual affairs – that sends Grace back to London with their ‘blessing’, young Sigismond, in tow. Sigi, convinced that it will improve his chances of being spoiled, applies all his juvenile cunning to keeping his parents apart.
Reviewed by Laura Freeman in Slightly Foxed Issue 61.
The Paris Effect
Mitford knew her expat stuff. She lived and wrote in Paris for nearly thirty years. Her Fabrice was Colonel Gaston Palewski, a close ally of Charles de Gaulle. ‘The publishers know they can sell any amount of books about France,’ says Ambassador Alfred. ‘In fact France, like Love, is a certain winner on a title page.’ Nancy Mitford gave the publishers what they wanted. The Pursuit of Love, The Blessing and Don’t Tell Alfred all whisk Linda, Grace and Fanny to Paris . . .
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