Saturday, May 23

Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford

Love in a Cold Climate returns to the decade between the First and Second World Wars. Like its forerunner, The Pursuit of Love, it is narrated by Fanny. This time the emphasis is less strongly on her Radlett cousins, though they and the other members of the family certainly appear. We learn more about Fanny's adult life, and the beginnings of her marriage to Alfred, an academic at Oxford. But the main focus is on the Lord and Lady Montdore, neighbours of Uncle Matthew and Aunt Sadie. Their beautiful and only daughter Polly creates an unthinkable scandal shortly after the death of her aunt, resulting in her outraged and jilted mother cutting off all contact.
The property is entailed, and though the heir (an American) has never expressed an interest in the stately home, the Montdore's contact him. In no time Cedric replaces Polly in Lady Montdore's affections - articulate, aesthetic and effete, Cedric manages to revamp her image and brighten her life.
A longer and more rounded novel than its' predecessor, Love in a Cold Climate is justifiably better known, but reading the Pursuit of Love first does enhance ones' enjoyment. As in the first novel misconceptions that some things are modern inventions, from children's awareness of sex to promiscuity and homosexuality, are disabused. This is a joyous, absorbing and fascinating novel, deserving of its status as a literary classic. - Alex

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