Saturday, 30 January 2010

Love in a Cold Climate (Nancy Mitford)

--The blurb--
"Set in the privileged world of the county house party and the London season, this is a comedy of English upperclass manners between the wars."

--The review--
My two major literary discoveries of 2009 were Stella Gibbons and Wilkie Collins, and (as you may have been able to tell from my previous Nancy Mitford review this month) I can equally see the works of Nancy Mitford becoming a permanent fixture on my bookshelf. While Love in a Cold Climate took much longer to pick up speed than The Blessing (for without the expatriate element, which still holds some relevance today, it is in many ways just another tale of aristocratic exploits), it thankfully ends on the same scintillating note.

Despite the fact that Love in a Cold Climate is a loose sequel to The Pursuit of Love, and a similarly linked prequel to Don't Tell Alfred, the fact of having read neither of them is in no way a disadvantage, as it stands perfectly well on its own. It does take some time to get to know the characters and to appreciate the plot in amongst the faceless aristocrats, but once this has been achieved, the novel becomes instantly more enjoyable.

As we get to know Boy and Polly better, the novel assumes more of a soap-opera quality, in the sense that it keeps readers riveted, gagging for the next instalment, and wanting desperately to know the outcome. The novel is equally enlivened with the introduction of Cedric, who adds a hilarious touch, and who cannot help but make the reader visualise how this character would be played in a film (thankfully, the novel has been adapted twice for television in the past thirty years). The novel's ends are tied up ingeniously, showing us ever further how it is Mitford's mastery of character, rather than necessarily setting, that light up her novels and make them what they are.

Other works by Nancy Mitford
Highland Fling (1931)
Christmas Pudding (1932)
Wigs on the Green (1935)
Pigeon Pie (1940)
The Pursuit of Love (1945)
The Blessing (1951)
Madame de Pompadour (1954)
Voltaire in Love (1957)
Don't Tell Alfred (1960)
The Water Beetle (1962)
The Sun King (1966)
Frederick the Great (1970)

2 comments:

Hannah Stoneham said...

Hi Bianca - I really enjoyed reading your review of this book which, yes, is so readable. I have linked to your review on my blog. Great to discover your blog, thanks for sharing

Hannah

Bianca said...

Hi Hannah

Thanks - and you are most welcome! Thanks for stopping by :)

Bianca S