In June 2010, I went to pick up a Jack Russell for my father. His first Jack Russel farm dog had recently passed, but his John Wayne version of masculinity would not let him admit that he loved that damn dog and wanted another. I took matters into my own hands and got him another dog. As I was leaving with the pup that would be Dad’s, the bitch (dog mom) bite me. The owner was upset and we talked as I tried to stop the bleeding. The result was a small scar on my leg, a gifted tomb about the Mitford sisters and the perfect dog for my dad.
The gifted book, “Letters Between Six Sisters The Mitfords” captivated me. In all my reading I had never heard of these aristocratic, British sisters that captivated Britain from the 1920’s and onward. The best summary of the six is the writer (Nancy), the farmer woman (Pamela), the fascist (Diana), the Hitler fan-girl (Unity), the communist (Jessica) and the duchess (Deborah).
I was quickly swept up into their world. It is so easy to judge the decisions our foremothers make in tumultuous times when hindsight is on our side. These women came of age between the two World Wars. Each one made very different decisions during World War II and lived with the consequences of those decisions for the rest of her life. I quickly became fascinated with them, their connection to each other and the impact of their decisions on their sisterly bonds. The letters lend depth and real-time thought processes on how each choice was made in the moment. The depth and use of language is very different than what constitutes modern communications. The phone, email and text have changed communication. Time will tell if the changes are for better or worse, but the depth and beauty of language is not what it was for the Mitford sisters
My fascination for the Mitfords lead me to the letters and writings of Nancy and those of her bestie Evelyn Waugh. I have also read the biography of Idina Sackville, who became forever known in Nancy’s works as The Bolter. Idina’s life story adds a hedonistic element to “Out of Africa” and the life and times of female pilot Beryl Markham. The Happy Valley set in Africa had a damn good time.
All of this is to say that the thing that is making me happiest this week is the three-part mini series of Nancy’s book, “The Pursuit of Love” on Amazon Prime. I love the modern music with a punk edge and other modern takes on a classic story of the British aristocracy after WWI and into WW2. Nancy, with her shady and vicious takes on the ways of her family, social class and times, would surely approve.
Pour a glass of wine and enjoy. It would be even better if you could fill a tub to enjoy the wine while watching the production.