Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford (3/5)

First published: 1949
Page count: 245

The back says: ‘How lovely – green velvet and silver, I call that a dream, so soft and delicious, too.’ She rubbed a fold of the skirt against her cheek. ‘Mine’s silver lame, it smells like a bird cage when it gets hot but I do love it. Aren’t you thankful evening skirts are long again?’

The dresses, but of the boredom of the Season, even for Polly Hampton, with her outstanding looks and excellent connections – the ultimate ‘It Girl’ of fashionable society. Groomed from a young age for marriage by her mother, the fearsome Lady Montdore, Polly causes a scandal when she declares her love for her uncle ‘Boy’ Dougdale, the Lecherous Lecturer, and runs off to France...

Nancy Mitford’s wickedly funny novel continues the story of all those extraordinary characters in The Pursuit of Love.

I say: I read this for my 100 Classics Challenge and since I have stopped reading synopsis at the back of books, I didn’t know that this was a sequel. However, that didn’t really bother me at all – and I may even read the first novel, The Pursuit of Love, if I should stumble upon it.

And have time.

This was not really my cup of tea, even though I can see why it’s a classic and people love it. The characters are very vividly portrayed and the dialogue is swift and witty. Even though it’s not my type of humour, I did snicker here and there; mostly when Jassy and Victoria were going on about something, and Cedric Hampton had a lot of good lines. The rest of them had their occasional moments.

The story starts out with Polly refusing to marry, and not having read the synopsis, it came as a surprise to me when she decided to get engaged to her uncle (by marriage) after her aunt (her mother’s sister) had only recently died. No need to say it causes a scandal, and they run off to France –

thank you very much, oh spoilery synopsis –

and we are left with Franny, the narrator and close friend of Polly, and the rest of society speculating about the marriage. Polly gets disinherited and her parents search out a distant cousin, Cedric, who comes to stay with them and brings much hilarity to their boring lives.

And by hilarity I mean he made time move much faster.

I don’t really have that much to say about the writing beyond what I’ve already said. Although I wouldn’t mind reading more of Mitford, I am not going to go out of my way to find her works. There are a few female English novelists whose works I wouldn’t be able to tell apart if a random selection was read to me, and Mitford fits right in there.

It’s a little bit wit and a little bit meh.

Vanilla, I’ll say. Sometimes that’s all I want, but usually I need some sprinkles or fudge sauce (or a brownie, apple crumble, blueberry pie). You get the picture (I love my puddings*).

*English for dessert.

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