Here in Sydney we are on the cusp of spring. The smell of jasmine in August reveals the faintest hint that the new season is around the corner. The weather is cool and the early mornings are still dark but the reassuring scent of the end of winter reveals itself like a cheeky peeping Tom. For the uninitiated this shifting of the season can be wrought with hypocrisy. The sun is bright but unwarming; the rain is warm but volatile. Reading Nancy Mitford always reminds me of this time of year. Her novels are pointed and clever with the comforting edge of spring but also far too intelligent to be foppish.
Author Zoe Heller (her tome The Believers is one definitely worth the indulgence of a lazy Sunday afternoon) describes ardent readers of Mitford as filled with a ‘dotty passion’. I have to admit that I too am smitten by Mitford’s idiosyncratic style. The Pursuit of Love is glorious. It is deliciously witty and wickedly sharp. Finding love in the eccentric and privileged world of Mitford’s protagonists drives the delicate plot of this novel.
I don’t want to say too much about the narrative of this tale. Enchanting and impeccable, it is a book worth exploring without any preconceived notions of the kaleidoscope of characters. The Radlett family are mad enough to be interesting but also authentic enough to feel like you could live among them. Spring into Mitford. You’ll be bewitched by her charm.