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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London

The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London - Lisa Hilton Horror of Love is a unique, fascinating addition to the Mitford cannon of books. It covers, in depth, some of the most interesting times and aspects of Nancy’s life, like her early love relationships, her involvement in helping victims of the Spanish civil war, her experiences in London during WWII and her life afterward in France. There is a lot more background on wartime and post-war Europe than I’ve seen in other Mitford books, and it’s packed with intriguing information about Gaston Palewski, Nancy’s longtime love, including his political beliefs, his relationship to Charles De Gaulle, his wartime activities, his post-war government career, his flirtations with other women and his eventual marriage--not to Nancy--which wasn’t the ideal match that he must have hoped it would be. Gaston might have been better off marrying Nancy, with whom he remained close until her death, but author Lisa Hilton makes a strong case that while Nancy had hoped Gaston would marry her, the love she felt for Gaston and pleasure she took in his company and their romance was valid and clear-eyed, not deluded or pitiable, a viewpoint that differs somewhat from other of Nancy’s biographers. Another difference is Hilton sees no hypocrisy in Nancy’s denunciation of Diana to British authorities, which as it turns out wasn’t what lead to Diana’s horrific incarceration during the war anyway, that was the work of Diana’s ex-father-in-law. As Hilton sees it, Nancy had good reason to wonder what Diana was up to in her many prewar visits to Germany, and Nancy did her patriotic duty to tell authorities about her doubts when they asked. While Diana was incarcerated Nancy then did her sisterly duty by supporting her everyway she could. Diana and Nancy were close for the rest of Nancy’s life, and it wasn’t until after her death that Diana found out what Nancy had done. In general, Lisa Hilton takes Nancy refreshingly seriously, and without blindly agreeing with all of Nancy’s opinions Hilton respects Nancy as an astute observer of culture and an intelligent and insightful writer., Nancy’s wit, determination to laugh, and refusal to dwell on ugliness are celebrated and showcased in Horror of Love. That, and Hilton’s fresh and somewhat controversial evaluation of Nancy’s life make Horror of Love worth reading for anyone interested in the Mitford family.