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The Blessing by Nancy Mitford

The Blessing by Nancy Mitford


New York : Random House, 1951. Book club edition. Hardcover. 305 pages ; 22 cm. In original dust jacket with a few rips and tears along the jacket's edges. Content's clean, unmarked and firm binding.

"Good light novels are hard to come by. Here is one; don't miss it." — CLIFTON FADIMAN*

"The Blessing (continues Mr. Fadiman) is an unmixed one, gay without triviality, funny without laboriousness, and candid without coarseness. Grace Allingham, the beautiful blonde daughter of a distinguished Member of Parliament, falls deeply in love with the Marquis Charles-Edouard de Valhubert. Charles-Edouard, tall, dark, elegant and a war hero, has an eye for all beautiful things, from pictures to women. He has no difficulty in disengaging the beauteous Grace from a handsome but dull Englishman; marries her; leaves her for a period while he is in war service; returns to greet his small son, Sigismund (the "blessing"); and carries his family off, first to the ancestral estate in Provence, then to the ancestral mansion in Paris. The fun lies, of course, in the contrast between Grace's conservative moral universe and that of the continental Charles-Edouard. The rock on which they split, naturally, is their differing view of the nature and importance of infidelity. This somewhat risky subject is handled by Miss Mitford with a frankness that is never offensive, because the peccadilloes of Charles-Edouard are described with such outrageous comicality and charm.

"The Blessing is an extraordinary combination of satire and high jinks. Miss Mitford is out to have as much fun as possible, and to extract from the spectacle of impropriety as much comedy as the traffic will bear." *From The Book-of-The-Month Club News


"How did this delicious creature come into being? Cast back to her home. She is the first of the long line of daughters of Lord Redesdale, a retiring but violent nobleman who is still happily with us. All the Mitford daughters are beautiful and wildly individual. They include a member of an American left-wing party, an English duchess, and a lady who spent most of the war in prison on unspecified charges of Nazi sympathies. Nancy received no education at all except in horsemanship and French. Liverish critics may sometimes detect traces of this defect in her work. But she wrote and read continually and has, in the end, achieved a way of writing so light and personal that it can almost be called a 'style.'

"She married the Hon. Peter Rodd, a man of conspicuous versatility, an explorer, linguist, seaman, boon-companion and heaven knows what else, of startling good looks. With not much money between them, Peter and Nancy settled in London in the criminal quarter behind Paddington Station, where their house was much frequented by homeless drunks and socialists. Then came 1939. Peter, of course, went off immediately with the army. Nancy remained in London. Entirely fearless, entirely frivolous, she giggled among the falling bombs, working at the same time tirelessly as Air Raid Warden for her louche district. When the dust cleared from the first heavy bombardments, she found herself penniless and took work in a Mayfair bookshop, which she quickly made a center for all that was left of fashionable and intellectual London. When we came on leave, we always made straight for Nancy's shop, confident of finding a circle of old friends who had be-come dependent on their daily dose of Nancy's gaiety. There is at least one American sergeant who will remember those long, laughing sessions among the buzz-bombs.

"Then came peace and welfare. Most of us settled down glumly to the drab world about us. Not so Nancy, who, having voted socialist and so done her best to make England uninhabitable, broke from her chrysalis, took wing and settled lightly in the heart of Paris, where we find her today. Her present, glittering book gives a picture of what she finds there."

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