23 November 2007

Honeys and Rebels

I was thrilled to find this 1977 Time Magazine book review of Jessica Mitford's A Fine Old Conflict. My Mitford fascination is new, but I just find something so thrilling about these families between the wars who were known for their unconventionality, their talent (four out of six sisters were published writers), and for their distinct personalities. The Garman family is another one like this, although they do seem to be more famous for their love affairs than their actual accomplishments.

Granted, I don't agree with the Mitford sisters' politics. Diana was married to the Fascist leader Oswald Mosley, and Unity (whose birth at "Swastika" and middle name "Valkyrie" seem to be a bit prophetic) was a companion of Hitler; on the opposite side, Nancy and Jessica (Decca) were involved with the Communist party. But Nancy's humorous prose and Decca's investigative nonfiction and essays really inspire me, not by how well-written they are but more about how the girls themselves are so individualistic. Granted, their upbringing was not easy or even good at times, but both of them turned their rough experiences into humor and art. I think that is pretty inspirational! I've gotten really into reading biographies lately, and I think that is because I am looking to be inspired by real people, especially strong women.

Beauty also inspires me, and New York Review Books (which, in my opinion, publish the most aesthetically pleasing and deserving titles) has reissued a 
stunning edition of Decca Mitford's Hons and Rebels. You know that old adage about not judging a book by its cover? That is completely ridiculous. Judge, judge away! How gorgeous are these books?

1 comment:

Peter said...

Holly, I was led to your blog because I have a Google alert for Jessica Mitford. I wanted to alert you to the fact that a book I edited of the letters of Jessica Mitford, entitled "Decca," was published late last year. I think you'd enjoy it -- Decca's spirit shines through in a way that it might not in a conventional biography. Details at www.peterysussman.com .

Peter Sussman