Hi All and welcome to Monthly Friday Book Club, just a week late due to my not being very well!
This book has been out for a while and can be found on Amazon in hardback/paperback/Kindle versions. The reason I chose this book was because one of the Mitford Girls was Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, whose home is Chatsworth House here in Derbyshire.
Deborah Freeman-Mitford was the youngest of six sisters and one brother and was born in 1920 to David, 2nd Baron Redesdale of Asthall Manor, Oxfordshire and his wife Sydney. Her sisters were Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity & Jessica and brother Thomas. She married the 11th Duke of Devonshire, Andrew Cavendish, in 1941 and they have three children living. She sadly passed away in 2014. DH and I had the pleasure of meeting her during a private tour of Chatsworth House and she was delightful.
Because of my interest in the Duchess I picked this book up and it is a fascinating look at a family at the height of the Golden Age of country house living in a privileged background where women were not educated but expected to marry wealthy young men. As the girls grew and the political climate changed with the onset of World War II the sisters divided in their beliefs; Nancy was a moderate socialist, Tom was a fascist and refused to fight Germany but signed up to fight Japan and was killed in action. Diana married Sir Oswald Mosley leader of the British Union of Fascists and was imprisoned during the War. Unity was a big supporter of Adolf Hitler and was so distraught about the War tried to commit suicide but failed and died early of her injuries. Jessica was a communist and because of this she and Diana never spoke again although the other sisters did correspond throughout their lives, despite their political differences.
There were many marriages and divorces between the sisters over the years and controversy followed a lot of them. Nancy became an Author and a lot of her books are based upon her early life and the people she knew.
Deborah was seen as the most normal of the sisters marrying into the Cavendish family and at the time of her marriage would not become Duchess of Devonshire as her husband, Andrew, was the second son of the 10th Duke. His brother, William would have inherited the title on his father’s death. William married Kathleen Kennedy, Sister to John F Kennedy, in 1944 whilst he was serving in the Army during the War but was sadly killed four months later. Kathleen, too, died the following year in a plane crash without them having any children, which is why Andrew Cavendish became the 11th Duke.
The book is very much a look at an age which is long past but if you enjoy Biographies and recent history then this is a must. I hope that if you do read it you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy Friday everyone.
Hugs, Susie xx
The 11th Duke of Devonshire, Andrew Cavendish and his Wife Deborah Cavendish in the Library of Chatsworth House (picture from Chatsworth House website)