Posh Comedy

When I read that book about the Mitford sisters, I bought a Kindle-volume of all Nancy Mitford´s novels. I have now finised the first two, "Highland Fling" and "Christmas Pudding", and enjoyed them a great deal. They are not the least bit serious or deep, just great romps with grown-ups (more or less) at play.

Both stories are set in those great country houses of the English aristocracy, where they invite friends and relations who seem to stay forever, or at least for a few weeks or even months. In Sweden we have a saying: what fish and guests have in common is that after three days, they start to smell. But then, we don´t have (as a rule) huge houses filled with staff at our bidding, taking care of everything. It´s the same setup in Austen´s novels, and so many others. But I also think of an Agatha Christie, a Marple or a Poirot novel, perhaps, particularly when it comes to the characters. There are a lot of admirals, duchesses, majors, and lords.

Most of the characters in these novels, whether they are one of the irresponsible Bright Young Things or of the established, older generation, are pretty stupid. The few ones who are intelligent, are very cynical. Marriage is a matter of convenience and marrying for love is usually a disaster. Couple Sally and Walter Monteath, who are in both novels, is an example of how love can be sweet but also lead to a life of relative hardship. They are devoted to each other, but both so completely irresponsible about money, that they have to stay afloat by living off their friends while at the same time selling gossip about them to the society magazines.

I look forward to reading more of Mitford, who is supposed to become better and better with every book. I´d recommend these two, particularly "Christmas Pudding", which has a bit more plot, to anyone who enjoys a good farce with hilarious situations, silly misunderstandings, and funny characters. Very well written it is, too. You´re in for a good giggle.

(Both photos are from Howard Castle, 2009)

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