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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.

Wait for Me!

Wait for Me!: Memoirs - Deborah Mitford This is a wonderful new addition to the Mitford canon by Deborah, The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, known as "Debo". Her sisters Nancy, Diana and Jessica (Decca) long ago wrote their own books, but being the youngest and only living sibling Debo brings a different perspective to WAIT FOR ME!. Nancy and the other older children hated having to move from Asthall Manor, where they had freedom and privacy because their rooms were in a converted barn, but Debo, then six, loved their new home at Swinbrook. She and Decca spent hours there formulating a secret language in the Hons Cupboard, a linen closet that served as their private meeting place, and Debo began her lifelong love of hens, which she raised so she could sell eggs to Muv, her mother.In other books Muv has been portrayed as vague and cold, but in Debo's depiction she is hardworking, full of understanding and always fair. Two days before Debo's wedding one of London's heaviest air raids blew out the windows of the ballroom where her reception was to be held. Shards of shattered glass covered everything and the curtains were ruined, shredded to bits. Muv shaped gold and grey wallpaper into pretend draperies to cover the glassless windows and convinced a wine merchant to part with some of his precious but diminishing supply of champagne from occupied, or soon to be occupied, France. Thanks to Muv, and the requisite but frosting-less cake (war sugar rationing), the party was able to proceed.Debo's writes candidly and entertainingly about her courtship and marriage to Andrew Devonshire, who became a duke because his older brother was killed in WWII. The war exacted a heavy toll on the Mitfords who lost many friends and family, including Tom, their beloved and only brother, and though Debo doesn't dwell on tragedy those sections of the book are eye-opening and deeply moving. She writes in the same open and level headed way about her miscarriages, Andrew's alcoholism and Nancy's recently revealed denunciation of Diana while she was imprisoned for her connections to Hitler.When Andrew's father died Debo and Andrew inherited Chatsworth, a huge 126-room mansion which has since been the setting for two Keira Knightly movies, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and THE DUCHESS. Chatsworth is beautiful now but was in terrible shape when they were suddenly put in charge. The miracle renovation Debo, and her husband oversaw is even more remarkable because Andrew's father died a few weeks too early to exempt them from an 80% death duty tax that in 1950 amounted to £7 million.Debo admired Muv's ability to select diverse styles of furnishing that worked beautifully together, and she used that eclecticism as a model while decorating Chatsworth. Eclecticism also seems to be Debo's guide when choosing friends, a group that has included local farmers, Evelyn Waugh and Prince Charles, and Debo has funny or interesting stories about all of them.Though Debo has never been as political as her one-time communist sister Decca or her fascist leaning sisters Diana and Unity she has had close connections to some of the world's most politically powerful people. Debo's brother-in-law married Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy so she attended both John F. Kennedy's inauguration and funeral as a family member. Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is Uncle Harold to Debo and she is also related to Winston Churchill. In 1960 her husband Andrew was made Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and she traveled to Africa, Asia and the Caribbean as he represented Britain during a time that coincided with the independence of eleven British colonies.Books by and about the Mitfords are full of the demand "Do admit" and WAIT FOR ME! finally reveals its source. The cover of HORSE AND HOUND carried the endorsement, "I freely admit the best of my fun I owe it to Horse & Hound" which, when shortened to "Do admit", was used by the five younger sisters, Debo says, to get the attention of witty and sophisticated Nancy.