Saturday, August 14, 2010

love in a cold climate

I just read David Propson's article on Nancy Mitford in today's Wall Street Journal, and it reminded me of my once-intense infatuation with the Bright Young Things, a group of privileged, elite, barely-legals who entertained pre-WWII London with their dramatic antics and various extravagances. I've always been most intrigued by the Mitford sisters, the socialite daughters of an English lord in pre-WWII London, but Nancy is my favorite. Instead of marrying rich or joining the fascist movement and running off to Germany or Spain like her sisters, Nancy became a satirical novelist, essayist and historian while keeping up her public image as one of the Bright Young Things and wife of the Hon. Peter Rodd. She was made a Commander of the British Empire and then an Officer in the French Legion of Honor. She was dressed by Lanvin and Dior, and drew inspiration for her work by socializing with the aristocracy. I think my favorite thing about her, though, is that she lived the life she wanted to in spite of the expectations set fourth by both her rank and her gender. It's a good thing she did, too - her books are fabulous! The Pursuit of Love, my favorite of her novels, is like a perfectly-preserved snapshot of a bygone era.

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