Review

“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

Fame, Family, and Fascism

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A picture of the cover of The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict. The cover is the indistinct images of the three oldest Mitford sisters walking on grass with dark pink graphic overlayed. On top of the book lies a dark pink rose.

The Mitford Affair, by Marie Benedict

The Mitford sisters were the Kardashians of the 1920’s. The Bright Young Things, as they were known, were the younger sons and daughters of the aristocracy and middle-class people climbing the social ladder. Chased by the paparazzi who were fascinated by their attention seeking, decadent, outrageous, and glamorous behaviour you could say they were the start of the cult of celebrity.

And the Mitford sisters, each more beautiful, brilliant, and eccentric than the next, were at the centre of it all.

By the early 1930’s, all the fun came to a screeching halt as Britain and the rest of the world became mired in the Great Depression. And with the economic instability slithered fascism and communism and a rapid schism in the famous Mitford family.

Even though they’ve weathered various scandals before, when glamorous socialite Diana divorces her aristocratic husband to pursue the leader of Britain’s fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley, the family begins to fracture. Her family and several of her sisters were deeply unhappy with what they saw as living in sin. The fault lines tremble when Nazi fanatic, Unity, decamps to Munich to stalk Adolf Hitler, determined to become part of his inner circle.

 At the same time, Jessica is swept up by the communist movement and becomes involved in the Spanish Civil War.

Nancy, the eldest of the Mitford sisters and a political moderate, is caught in the middle even as she is increasingly horrified by Diana’s and Unity’s political ambitions and their parent’s fluctuating political positions.

Politics becomes very personal for Nancy as she must choose between her loyalty to her family and her allegiance to her country.

Told from the perspectives of Nancy, Diana and Unity, this is an excellent depiction of the famous Mitford family between the two world wars. The polarization of the political affiliations of the different members of the family is astonishing and Marie Benedict traces just how devastating that can be for a family, sisters in particular.


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