Books

Christmas Pudding

Nancy Mitford

A fun and festive tale by the author of The Pursuit of Love

The formidable fox-hunting obsessed Lady Bobbin has put together a Christmas house party at Compton Bobbin, including her rebellious daughter Philadelphia, the girl's pompous suitor, a couple of children obsessed with newspaper death notices, and an aspiring writer whose deadly (in more ways than one) serious first novel has been acclaimed as the funniest book of the year, to his utter dismay. And then there is beautiful ex courtesan Amabelle Fortescue and her group of guests staying in a nearby cottage ... As the house parties starts to unravel, so the jokes increase: this is Nancy Mitford's second novel and one of her earliest forays into the world of the Bright Young Things.

The Blessing

Nancy Mitford (and others)

The Blessing by Nancy Mitford

It isn't just Nanny who finds it difficult in France when Grace and her young son Sigi are finally able to join her dashing aristocratic husband Charles-Edouard after the war. For Grace is out of her depth among the fashionably dressed and immaculately coiffured French women, and shocked by their relentless gossiping and bedhopping. When she discovers her husband's tendency to lust after every pretty girl he sees, it looks like trouble. And things get even more complicated when little Sigi steps in . . .

The Blessing is a hilarious tale of love, fidelity, and the English abroad, tailored as brilliantly as a New Look Dior suit.

'Entirely original, inimitable and irresistible' Spectator

'Deliciously funny' Evelyn Waugh

'Utter, utter bliss' Daily Mail

The Pursuit of Love

Nancy Mitford (and others)

Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love is one of the funniest, sharpest novels about love and growing up ever written.

'Obsessed with sex!' said Jassy, 'there's nobody so obsessed as you, Linda. Why if I so much as look at a picture you say I'm a pygmalionist.'

In the end we got more information out of a book called Ducks and Duck Breeding.
'Ducks can only copulate,' said Linda, after studying this for a while, 'in running water. Good luck to them.'

Oh, the tedium of waiting to grow up! Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and sex, Linda and her sisters and cousin Fanny are on the lookout for the perfect lover.

But finding Mr Right is much harder than any of the sisters had thought. Linda must suffer marriage first to a stuffy Tory MP and then to a handsome and humourless communist, before finding real love in war-torn Paris. . .

'Utter, utter bliss' Daily Mail

Love in a Cold Climate

Nancy Mitford (and others)

Love in a Cold Climate is the sequel to Nancy Mitford's bestselling novel The Pursuit of Love.

'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?'

Ah, the dresses! But oh, the monotony of the Season, with its endless run of glittering balls. Even fabulously fashionable Polly Hampton - with her startling good looks and excellent social connections - is beginning to wilt under the glare.

Groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, fearsome Lady Montdore, Polly instead scandalises society by declaring her love for her uncle 'Boy' Dougdale, the Lecherous Lecturer, and promptly eloping to France. But the consequences of this union no one could quite expect . . .

Love in a Cold Climate is the wickedly funny follow-up to The Pursuit of Love.

'Entirely original, inimitable and irresistible' Philip Hensher, Spectator

Don't Tell Alfred

Nancy Mitford (and others)

Don't Tell Alfred is the wickedly funny sequel to Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate.

'I believe it would have been normal for me to have paid a visit to the outgoing ambassadress. However the said ambassadress had set up such an uninhibited wail when she knew she was to leave, proclaiming her misery to all and sundry and refusing so furiously to look on the bright side, that it was felt she might not be very nice to me.'

Fanny is married to absent-minded Oxford don Alfred and content with her role as a plain, tweedy housewife. But overnight her life changes when Alfred is appointed English Ambassador to Paris. In the blink of an eye, Fanny's mixing with royalty, Rothschilds and Dior-clad wives, throwing cocktail parties and having every indiscreet remark printed in tomorrow's papers.

But with the love lives of her new friends to organize, an aristocratic squatter who won't budge and the antics of her maverick sons to thwart, Fanny's 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.

'A comic genius' Independent on Sunday

'Deliciously funny' Evelyn Waugh

The Complete Novels

Nancy Mitford

The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford.

Here in one volume are all eight of Nancy Mitford's sparklingly astute, hilarious and completely unputdownable novels: Highland Fling, Christmas Pudding, Wigs on the Green, Pigeon Pie, The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate, The Blessing and Don't Tell Alfred.

Published over a period of 30 years, they provide a wonderful glimpse of the bright young things of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties in the city and in the shires; firmly ensconced at home or making a go of it abroad; and what the upper classes really got up to in peace and in war.

'Entirely original, inimitable and irresistible' Spectator

'Deliciously funny' Evelyn Waugh

'Utter, utter bliss' Daily Mail

Wigs on the Green

Nancy Mitford

Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford is a hilarious satire of the upper classes.

Eugenia Malmains is one of the richest girls in England and an ardent supporter of Captain Jack and the Union Jackshirts; Noel and Jasper are both in search of an heiress (so much easier than trying to work for the money); Poppy and Marjorie are nursing lovelorn hearts; and the beautiful bourgeois Mrs Lace is on the prowl for someone near Eugenia's fabulous country home at Chalford, and much farce ensues.

One of Nancy Mitford's earliest novels, Wigs on the Green has been out of print for nearly seventy-five years. Nancy's sisters Unity and Diana were furious with her for making fun of Diana's husband, Oswald Moseley, and his politics, and the book caused a rift between them all that endured for years. Nancy Mitford skewers her family and their beliefs with her customary jewelled barbs, but there is froth, comedy and heart here too.

'Deliciously funny' Evelyn Waugh

The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford

Nancy Mitford

Available together for the first time in many years, and here in one edition, are ALL eight of Nancy Mitford's sparklingly astute, hilarious and completely unputdownable novels, with a new introduction by India Knight.

Published over a period of 30 years, they provide a wonderful glimpse of the bright young things of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties in the city and in the shires; firmly ensconced at home or making a go of it abroad; and what the upper classes really got up to in peace and in war.

The Sun King

Nancy Mitford (and others)

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY STELLA TILLYARD

During his reign Louis XIV was the most powerful king in Europe. He presided over a golden age of military and artistic achievement in France, and deployed his charm and talents for spin and intrigue to hold his court and country within his absolute control. The Sun King's universe centred on Versailles, a glittering palace from where Louis conducted his government and complex love affairs. Nancy Mitford describes the daily life of this splendid court in sumptuous detail, recreating the past in vivid colour.

Madame de Pompadour

Nancy Mitford

When Jeanne-Antoinette was nine, she was told by a fortune teller that she would one day become the mistress of the handsome young Louix XV - from that day she was groomed to become 'a morsel fit for a King'. Nancy Mitford lovingly tells the story of how the little girl rose, against a backdrop of savage social-climbing, intrigue, excess and high drama, to become the most powerful women of the eighteenth century French court, Le Pompadour.

Frederick the Great

Nancy Mitford (and others)

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY KATE WILLIAMS

Frederick II of Prussia attempted to escape his authoritarian father as a boy, but went on to become one of history's greatest rulers. He loved the flute, and devoted hours of study to the arts and French literature, forming a long-lasting but turbulent friendship with Voltaire. He was a military genius and enlarged the borders of his empire, but he also promoted religious tolerance, economic reform and laid the foundation for a united Germany. Nancy Mitford brings all these contradictions and achievements to sparkling life in an fascinating, intimate biography.

Voltaire in Love

Nancy Mitford

The meeting of Voltaire, successful financier, famous poet and troublemaker, and the enchanting amateur physicist and countess Émilie du Châtelet, was a meeting of both hearts and minds. In the Château de Cirey, the two brilliant intellects scandalised the French aristocracy with their passionate love affair and provoked revolutions both political and scientific with their groundbreaking work in literature, philosophy and physics.
Nancy Mitford's account of the love affair of the Enlightenment is, in the author's own words, 'a shriek from beginning to end'.

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh (and others)

Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh were two of the twentieth century's most amusing and gifted writers, who matched wits and traded literary advice in more than five hundred letters over twenty-two years. Dissecting their friends, criticizing each other's books and concealing their true feelings beneath a barrage of hilarious and knowing repartee, they found it far easier to conduct a friendship on paper than in person. This correspondence provides a colourful glimpse into the literary and social circles of London and Paris, during the Second World War and for twenty years after.

Love in a Cold Climate

Nancy Mitford

Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate and Other Novels casts a finely gauged net to capture perfectly the foibles and fancies of the English upper class, and includes an introduction by Philip Hensher in Penguin Modern Classics.

Nancy Mitford's brilliantly witty, irreverent stories of the upper classes in pre-war London and Paris conjure up a world of glamour, gossip and decadence. In The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate and The Blessing, her extraordinary heroines deal with armies of hilariously eccentric relatives, the excitement of love and passion, and the thrills of the social Season. But beneath the glittering surfaces and perfectly timed comic dialogue, Nancy Mitford's novels are also touching hymns to a lost era and to the brevity of life and love from one of the most individual, beguiling and creative users of the language.

Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was born in London. A member of one of the aristocracy's more eccentric families, and educated at home with a clutch of siblings, Mitford used childhood experience, lightly fictionalised, in her comic novels, including The Pursuit of Love (1945). She also wrote biographies, translated from the French and edited a celebrated symposium on English Aristocrats.

If you enjoyed Love in a Cold Climate and Other Novels, you might like Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Very funny ... inimitable and irresistible ... one of the most individual, beguiling and creative users of English this century'
Philip Hensher

Biography

Nancy Mitford was born in London on November 28 1904, daughter of the second Baron Redesdale, and the eldest of six girls. Her sisters included Lady Diana Mosley; Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and Jessica, who immortalised the Mitford family in her autobiography Hons and Rebels. The Mitford sisters came of age during the Roaring Twenties and wartime in London, and were well known for their beauty, upper-class bohemianism or political allegiances. Nancy contributed columns to The Lady and the Sunday Times, as well as writing a series of popular novels including The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, which detailed the high-society affairs of the six Radlett sisters. While working in London during the Blitz, Nancy met and fell in love with Gaston Palewski, General de Gaulle's chief of staff, and eventually moved to Paris to be near him. In the 1950s she began writing historical biographies - her life of Louis XIV, The Sun King, became an international bestseller. Nancy completed her last book, Frederick the Great, before she died of Hodgkin's disease on 30 June 1973.