Nancy & Linda

One of my favorite books is The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. Many of you will know it. I reread it at least once a year, summer an especially good time to do so. It is a novel full of wit, history, and peeks into the country life of England before and during World War II. But mostly it is a chronicle of love, based, one gathers, on Mitford’s own circuitous route to happiness. I discovered the book many years ago, completely by accident, in a used paperback bin. From the first line, I was hooked.

The main character is Linda, one of the daughters of the large and eccentric Radlett family. The vivacious young Linda is the the center of the children’s adventures. Although all of the family’s piercing blue eyes turn to her, LInda’s intensity and sensitive nature mark her out for a bumpy future. She is a pleasure for the reader to imagine as a physical presence. Even more so as her passions turn from Labradors to romance. There have been two television versions of this book (named after its companion novel Love in a Cold Climate), but no actor quite captures her dark-haired look. I recast it in my mind, but have little more success.

Mitford must have loved clothes, because they figure so prominently in the book. Initially, Linda dresses rather badly. Her first marriage to a banker allows her the trappings of wealth, but her mind is elsewhere. Her second marriage to a Communist does nothing to improve her appearance. At last, as she sits weeping on her suitcase in the Gare du Nord, she meets Fabrice, a titled Frenchman who changes her views on everything, including dress. Linda’s happiness is reflected in the elegant wardrobe that Fabrice purchases for her. She blossoms into the beauty she was destined to become.

I love this book because it deals with the romance of people who have had some experience in life. It isn’t in a hurry and it savors the moment. It is hopeful, even though the ending is rather a shock.

The beautiful lingerie at Jane’s Vanity complements so well the idea of Mitford’s book. It challenges one to be a Linda. To be joyful. To be transformed by love.

-Kate L

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