I was told that I would enjoy this autobiography, and I did. In fact it was fascinating and it’s a must read for anyone interested in the Mitfords or even 20th century Britain.
I’ve always felt a sort of affinity with Debo Mitford just because I know how it feels to be the youngest in a large family and have a mother who wanted boys, as my mother did too. That’s where the resemblence ends though and it’s easy to feel envious of someone who has had such a full and seemingly charmed life. But, we can’t all be duchesses and all hasn’t been as wonderful as her life seemed on the surface.
It’s a book with plenty of funny moments in it but there’s lots of sadness too and when Deborah Devonshire relates the history of her many pregnancies it’s really heartbreaking. Three of her children survived but another three died within hours of their birth and she also suffered a miscarriage. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and that was bad enough, I can’t imagine how she must have felt or how she managed to cope with it all. The war years brought too many deaths of family and close friends in combat too. So it hasn’t all been a charmed life.
I’m just annoyed that I didn’t get around to reading this book before visiting Chatsworth House for the first time during the summer because it would have made it even more enjoyable. I’m sure we’ll be going back there some day though as it isn’t possible to take it all in in one visit.
I hadn’t realised that the Devonshires were related to the Kennedys by marriage with ‘Kick’ Kennedy (Jack’s favourite sister) being married to Debo’s husband’s brother. She is buried near Chatsworth. So there is quite a bit about the Kennedys and a description of JFK’s inauguration and funeral.
Having just finished reading three of Nancy’s books it was an eyeopener to me to discover that she had ‘done the dirty’ on her sister Diana during the war and was instrumental in Diana being put in prison. Nancy apparently had a jealous nature and bore grudges.
I borrowed this one from the library but I might end up buying it anyway as I enjoyed it so much and it’s one for dipping into again I think.
I’m definitely going to have to read something by Patrick Leigh Fermor as he’s mentioned so often in this one and I’m now looking for John Buchan’s biography of Montrose – JFK’s favourite apparently.