The Mitford Affair

Sourcebooks Landmark. Jan. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781728229362. $27.99. F
Benedict’s latest (Her Hidden Genius) explores the world of the eccentric Mitford sisters, real-life British aristocrats whose stylish young lives in the 1930s made them particularly well known. In chapters told in each of their voices, Unity and Diana become devoted to fascism (Unity becoming particularly obsessed by Hitler), and novelist Nancy struggles with her marriage, her childlessness, her work and, especially, the political beliefs of much of her family. At the same time, Nancy’s fiction, which satirizes a lightly disguised version of her family, raises the Mitfords’ ire. The aristocratic but nearly penniless Mitford parents and the other siblings make appearances as England heads to war, and quick-witted Nancy grows from a jaded observer of society to a woman working for her country. In doing so, she has to decide whether family loyalty trumps all.
VERDICT Benedict captures the mood of a certain element of upper-class England in the years leading up to World War II. Appearances by historical figures like Winston Churchill and Evelyn Waugh round out the story. Fans of World War II historical fiction will be fascinated.
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