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Friday, October 8, 2010

Wait For Me! by Deborah Devonshire

To my very great surprise this is a fail. I’m hoping only a temporary one.

I’d like to think I will finish it one day and that my decision to put it down half way through (she’s not even Duchess yet…) has been hastened by the book I have waiting next in line.

(It’s a cracker, just too tempting, sitting there by the bed, and I’m desperate to get stuck into it.)

It’s not that Wait For Me! is boring – it’s just that so far I have known all the best bits, described so hilariously by Debo’s big sister Nancy Mitford in her novels The Pursuit of Love and Love In a Cold Climate.

And the less good bits – the family’s close pre-war friendship with Hitler – has always been offputting in the extreme. Although I must say that Debo is wonderfully frank and level-headed about all that.

There are some new gems to savour, such as her father – Farve, better known as Uncle Matthew in Nancy’s books – calling his last cup of cold coffee, which he liked to take off to his study, ‘my suckments’.

One morning a new maid cleared them away before he’d had a chance to take them out of the dining room. ‘Some monkey’s orphan has stolen my suckments!’ he roared.

From that day on he kept the cup in his safe until the moment of perfect drinking.

Also, to be fair to Debo, she has always maintained that she is the quiet Mitford, preferring wild flowers and poultry to the extreme politics and sparkling society (meaning mostly gay society, in Nancy’s case) that her sisters were so drawn to.

I will finish it. My devotion to Nancy Mitford borders on a cult. I have several shrines to her in my home and office and the least I can do is finish her baby sister’s memoir.

And considering I drove an hour and a half from my mother’s house to Chatsworth especially to get hold of a signed copy, it would be crazy not to.

Just not at the moment.

Debo, aged 20, in 1940. So beautiful and doing what she likes best.

Reading satisfaction: 5
Un-put-downable-ness: 5
Recommend to best girlfriend: 8
Recommend to mother: 10
Recommend to niece: 8
Recommend to gay best friend: 6
Recommend to man pal: 7
Recommend to Helen Razer: 0
Read on public transport: 7
Unpleasantness: 0


  1. Hi Maggie, can you recommend a biog of Nancy Mitford? I have been looking for one...

  2. Hi Paula
    Every biography I have read of the Mitfords has taken a little bit more of the magic away...

    Nancy's life was so sad, I prefer to think of her as the voice her wonderful novels - but it is good to have the context.

    Having said that - I've read all of them and I think the best was by Selina Hastings.

    The Harold Acton is good, but doesn't have the contemporary context.

    I particularly loathed the one about all the Mitford sisters by an American person called Mary S. Lovell. She managed to render the Mitfords almost dull through her own suburban eyes and I hated that book.

    What I did adore was the collection of letters between Nancy M. and Heywood Hill, who owned the bookshop where she worked. That's a really good read.

    Let me know what you go for and what you think.

    best Maggie

  3. I hear you Maggie. I was super excited to get my mitts on this and then felt it was hardly the page turner I'd hoped for. I am struggling to keep going as well. Love your blog.

    PS I liked the Letters Between the Sisters the best, you know, the one edited by Charlotte Moseley.

  4. Thanks for kind comment, FF!

    I loved that book too, but it was so BIG. I'm having issues at the moment with books which are just uncomfortable to read and that was a classic case of that.

    I will go back to it one day when I've got time to read in day - impossible to read in bed.

  5. Thanks for the response Maggie - I will hunt those titles down online as I haven't had much luck locally (I'm in Aus). Jealous you can pop over to Chatsworth!!

    Love this blog.

  6. I read about the book and I just added to my wish list.I love Nancy Mitford and everything related to her. It was a bit disappointing to read your review, but I still want to read it. And I am happy to find your blog.