Read Wait for Me! by Deborah Mitford Online

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Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the famously witty brood of six daughters and one son that included the writers Jessica and Nancy, who wrote, when Deborah was born, “How disgusting of the poor darling to go and be a girl.” Deborah’s effervescent memoir Wait for Me! chronicles her remarkable life, from an eccentric but happy childhood roaming theDeborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the famously witty brood of six daughters and one son that included the writers Jessica and Nancy, who wrote, when Deborah was born, “How disgusting of the poor darling to go and be a girl.” Deborah’s effervescent memoir Wait for Me! chronicles her remarkable life, from an eccentric but happy childhood roaming the Oxfordshire countryside, to tea with Adolf Hitler and her sister Unity in 1937, to her marriage to Andrew Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. Her life changed utterly with his unexpected inheritance of the title and vast estates after the wartime death of his brother, who had married “Kick” Kennedy, the beloved sister of John F. Kennedy. Her friendship with that family would last through triumph and tragedy.In 1959, the Duchess and her family took up residence in Chatsworth, the four-hundred-year-old family seat, with its incomparable collections of paintings, tapestry, and sculpture—the combined accumulations of generations of tastemakers. Neglected due to the economies of two world wars and punitive inheritance taxes, the great house soon came to life again under the careful attention of the Duchess. It is regarded as one of England’s most loved and popular historic houses.Wait for Me! is written with intense warmth, charm, and perception. A unique portrait of an age of tumult, splendor, and change, it is also an unprecedented look at the rhythms of life inside one of the great aristocratic families of England. With its razor-sharp portraits of the Duchess’s many friends and cohorts—politicians, writers, artists, sportsmen—it is truly irresistible reading, and will join the shelf of Mitford classics to delight readers for years to come....

Title : Wait for Me!
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374207687
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Wait for Me! Reviews

  • Mariel
    2018-11-26 15:36

    I bought Deborah Mitford's (I refuse to call her Debo. Just try and make me!) memoir Wait for me! for my twin sister as a Christmas present. I tried not to get her something that I wanted to read and she had little interest in. Because I would never do something like that. If my twin was Deborah Mitford (I refuse to call her Laur for this review) she could write a memoir that goes like this: "Mariel was always kind to use her interesting taste to push me into reading books that I would otherwise not give a chance." In other words that I was a total bitch who bought her Henry Miller for Christmas (I did). I haven't read any of the other Mitford books yet (I plan to in the near future). Deborah is the one who married well (well, if you look at things that way) and became the Duchess of Devonshire. Or the Martha Stewart of big houses of England (these are not my words) in later life. She was the youngest after a string of many girls to parents who wished for a boy instead. She's very much the well brought up (if you look at it that way) lady who doesn't say what she might be like if no one else was looking. I say why write a memoir? My guess is because her sisters wrote those famous books. Maybe it was because she was an old woman (ninety at the writing of 'Wait for Me!'). It feels like there are many parts of this picture that I'm not getting from this book. Mitford is too nice (however, maybe not TOO nice. I couldn't help but notice that she refers to sister Pams husband's infidelity but not those of her own husband). There is constant name dropping. Like this: I went across the street to visit my buddy Elizabeth Bowen who knew Virginia Woolfe well. I was on the arm of Patrick Leigh Fermor who was dressed to the nines in (insert a shit load of fashion designers). Blah blah blah The Kennedys blah blah blah famous people I knew that guy blah blah blah. (She even has tea with Hitler! Be fair, Mariel. That really did happen.) I'm sure she really knew those people but it is like every other word is some famous person's name. It gets out of hand. Mitford even thanks the secretary who typed up her papers. It all read a little too, I don't know, acceptance speech?I'm being mean. I don't know this for absolute certain (I'm reserving my long distance judgement for when I've read the other books), but it seems like Deborah didn't like her eldest sister Nancy. Sure, she SAYS she was her second best favorite. But then it's all Nancy was so jealous of how beautiful Diana was (and boy does she drag on about that). Nancy was never married, Nancy pined after a gay man, Nancy pined after a man who married someone else when he said he couldn't. In light of that the I'm too nice to say anything is a little annoying. However, it may be because Nancy was publicly screechy about locking away Diana forever for the public safety good for all. Yeaaaah, did she throw a fit about locking away their racist! cousin by marriage, Churchill? Eh?. Diana is the one who left her husband but didn't have sex (alledgedly. But she totally did) with Hitler. That was Unity. My theory is that Nancy didn't want to look bad herself and made all of this effort to let the world know she was the non-Nazi sister. (Just my theory! I might turn Team Nancy.) One of the times it didn't feel like memoir rationalizing was when Deborah writes about Unity. Unity. She blew her brains out when England declared war on Germany. She lived. When the Harry Potter books came out and we first meet Bellatrix Lestrange my twin and I would call her "The Manson Chick". That was before we knew that Rowling had based her on Unity (Narcissa is Diana. Jessica is Rowling's heroine, by the way). Now it seems kind of fitting. Unity might have fallen in with any kind of cult, at least as Deborah sees it. I found it refreshing that she didn't try to scapegoat her sisters. It wasn't their own unique evil to fall for Hitler. It wasn't like they alone in England believed that shit, at the time. Geez, Nancy.Remember my Fitzosbournes in Exile review? It was Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz over Kick Kennedy the socialite. Kick wasn't hot and still everyone liked her 'cause she had confidence! This is me over Kick Kennedy in Wait for Me! ZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Michelle Cooper had to have read this book for research for her book. It was like rereading it all over again. Or she read the same books that Mitford read to "jog her memory". Mitford relied on published accounts from her sisters, husband and self (house books from the '80s and '90s). If you're going to write about Kick why can't it be that none of her family went to her funeral because they disowned her because she was sleeping around with a married man? It seems like she didn't have the whole society game pinned down after all. You can't pick your family, but still. It's not so easy to be liked by everyone.I'm glad that I brought up that Montmaray series by Michelle Cooper. Her books are evocative of the glamorous world of high born poverty of a sorts. Think I Capture the Castle. It's what someone who thought being poor could be fun would think it was. They can still afford to have coming out balls. Mitford herself admits that their allowance was larger than the housekeeping staff salary for a year. They didn't have as much as they thought they should have. I have no doubt that it must have been like that with the strain on the parents who big time thought they should have had more. Their father comes off as a cruel man in this book. I know that Nancy and Jessica saw their mom and dad differently. Maybe Deborah isn't wrong that their mother at least did her a service. Everything she knew about managing a house and chickens came from her mother. She wasn't the useless socialite at all, thanks to her. That's probably more than most of their peers could say. I also don't know if I would have seen it that way if I was one of the sisters that the parents didn't favor (poor Unity).My favorite parts were about raising the hens. Who knew? Maybe it was because there was no role to play there other than one of own's own choosing. Memoirs are hard for me to like. It's so hard to tell if the writer is being honest or just masturbating on print for the sake of book sales or something else. It wasn't about correcting something that Jessica wrote, you know? (And stop asking me to call Jessica Decca! What is it with this family and nicknames? I had to keep flipping to the front to remember who was who.)This review is boring. Personally, I blame Kick Kennedy. (Did the publishers make her throw in all of these chapters about them?) Since I'm reserving judgement for what I suspect are the more interesting Mitfords why did I have to bore everyone with Kick Kennedy?P.s. I don't like the title. My twin thinks it is fitting because she chases after her sisters. I also prefer the UK cover of the old Mitford with her hens instead of the socialite in the gown like on the usa cover. Maybe it doesn't have as much of the Kennedys in it either. No WAY did some chick predict Robert was going to be president when he was a lad attending a party in England.P.s.s. This is why I suck. I forgot to mention Communist!Jessica versus peerage Deborah. And I didn't forget to mention that I knew all of those society places from reading romance novels. I just didn't want to admit it!

  • Mary Ronan Drew
    2018-11-26 17:32

    What an advantage for an author of autobiographer to outlive most of the other people in one’s life so that one may be perfectly honest about one’s opinions of them. This is the case with Deborah Mitford (actually Deborah Cavendish) in this slightly unfocused memoir. No feelings are hurt when she points out that Evelyn Waugh was very witty when sober – but he was sober for such a short time and the rest of the evening he was miserably insulting. And she can be honest about her father’s having left her mother and taken up with a boringly unsuitable housekeeper. Fortunately he spent his days on an isolated Scottish island and nobody had to deal with the pair.Time also gives some perspective on her family’s bizarre and occasionally tragic political activities. When she expresses a political opinion, it is very conservative, and yet when she was a girl she accompanied her mother to visit her sister Unity, who was a friend of Hitler, apparently a fairly close one, and makes little comment on his politics. Her description of the misery of living with Unity when she had tried to kill herself and was mentally unstable is honest and sad. She makes no attempt to explain her sister Nancy’s testimony to the government that their sister Diana was a danger to the state, which contributed to the decision to put her in jail during part of the war.But you read the book not for the history and the sadness but for the charm and wit of the world in which the young Deborah Mitford lived before the war – the parties and nightclubbing, the word games with her sisters, her eccentric and financially unstable father and her patient and sweet-natured mother, the enormously wide acquaintance of the family, the joy she has always taken in dogs and horses (and sheep and hens and every other manner of farm animal.)The war was in some ways particularly hard on people like Deborah Mitford. In 1939 theirs was a life of large houses (more than one in the case of the Devonshires, of course), warmth and luxury, staffs of servants, sumptuous dinners, stables full of horses, lovely new motor cars and chauffeurs to drive them, and a life of ease and entertainment. When the war came they were reduced to bicycles and walking, poor food and little of it, shortages and rationing like everybody else. Most of the upper middle class and the aristocracy like Deborah Mitford’s family and friends adjusted, learned to cook, chopped their own wood, and went cold like everybody else, but for them it was a much longer way down and the end of a way of life. Things were never remotely the same.The duchess mentions a recent interview in which the journalist asks her if the war affected her in any way. She was taken aback. Her only brother was killed in the war. So were her four best friends. Her husband’s brother died, which is how Andrew, the second son, became the duke, and like George VI, he was unprepared for the position and had to learn fast. The author doesn’t say it but I have the impression that, like Virginia Woolf, she thought somehow that they were only dead for duration and after the war the realization that life went on without them was just as difficult for her family as for everyone else in England.Then came the socialist government and the 85% death tax on the Devonshire estate. Her husband, the new duke, spent his life, full-time, for 20 years, clearing the debt in order to hold on to a part of the family’s inheritance. Whatever the unfairness of one family holding such riches when people in the East End were near starvation, it was extremely difficult for people with any property at all to hold on to even a fraction of it. This was the time when thousands of houses in England were torn down or abandoned because of confiscatory taxes. Hundreds of significant houses were lost because of the punitive government policies. It’s sad to see a nation destroying its own history.The Devonshires managed after 30 years to pay off the taxes by selling land and houses and giving a good many treasures to the state, including Hardwick Hall. The duchess opened Chatsworth to the public and made it available for rental, she wrote books about the estate, she organized the farm as a paying endeavor, and brought in enough money to pay for repairs and maintenance of the house, a remarkable thing for such an uneducated and inexperienced woman to do so well. She is now the dowager duchess and lives in the dower house on the Chatsworth estate.2011 No 60

  • Nicholas
    2018-11-24 22:11

    I'll read anything related to the Mitfords but there's no getting around it: Deborah doesn't write as well as Nancy or Jessica. She is best when she’s describing her upbringing, but even then she relies on the published words of her sisters from time to time. By the final third of the book, it’s become a long list of events and celebrated people whom she’s entertained and it gets both a little confusing and a little boring. As Janet Maslin noted in her review in the Sunday Times in December, when you get to a paragraph that begins with “Poultry has been important to me since childhood,” you know you’ve reached the end. All that said, however, it’s fascinating to hear her take on her sisters and their famous disputes with one another, to understand how one family produced a Communist, a Fascist, and a Nazi-sympathizer, as well as a Duchess. She’s also eloquent on the subject of English country houses, especially the ones that come with titles and what happens to such a house when the title and house pass from one generation to the next and the death duties of 80% of its value will bankrupt it entirely. The answer (what she and her husband did with Chatsworth): sell and donate the greatest artistic treasures, open the house to the public, and run it like a business, writing charming books about it all the while.

  • Petra X
    2018-11-19 23:36

    One day I will write a review of this big book by a very big personality who does not have the same frame of reference as the rest of us.The Duchess loves keeping chickens and running her little shops as well as the magnificent palace she calls home. When launching her London store, she called on Prince Charles and asked him to pop in, as it would give her some publicity. Not our world, eh? But you wouldn't hold anything against her, she doesn't have a snobbish or malicious bone in her body, a lovely woman and a good chronicler of her world.

  • Mo
    2018-11-21 21:24

    A bunch of random remembrances, strung together without much regard for interest, amusement, nor continuity. For example: This is one entire paragraph, in which the author describes her father (Farve).’My good clothes’ were cosseted like his car and gun. Mabel the parlourmaid was in charge and he was always well dressed. In the country, his appearance was indistinguishable from that of a gamekeeper, an occupation that would have suited him to the ground. He wore a brown velveteen waistcoat, alternating with moleskin; a gunmetal watch – no silver chain but a leather bootlace; gaiters with huge chunks of shoes that were made for him; and he carried a stout thumbstick, a walking stick with a forked top, that completed the illusion. As years went by, the gaiters gave way to trousers fashioned from an impenetrable material called Mount Everest cloth – ‘thorn proof, dear child’. In London he was conventionally dressed but for one garment: a black cloak inherited from his father (Farve would never have bought such a thing himself), which he wore when forced to go out in the evenings. In his mid-thirties he went to a dentist and asked him to take out all his teeth. The dentist refused, saying it was dangerous. ‘All right then’ said Farve impatiently, ‘I’ll go to someone who will.’ An hour or so later there was not a tooth left in his head. Thereafter ’my good dentures’ chewed up Muv’s excellent food.The most interesting thing about the preceeding excerpt is the trip to the dentist. BUT THAT’S ALL THAT GETS SAID ABOUT THIS INCIDENT! This fact is just plopped down at the end of a paragraph, with no elaboration. The next paragraph goes on to something completely unrelated. We're left to wonder why in the world a healthy man in his 30's would want to get all of his teeth pulled! There must have been a compelling reason. When Nancy Mitford (Deborah’s sister) based her character Uncle Matthew (from the book ‘The Pursuit of Love’) on her father (Farve), she incorporated all of his idiosyncrasies and eccentricities into a coherent story. They were so amusing because she blended family anecdotes seamlessly into a story that made sense. Deborah just kind of “lists” them, and taken out of context, they all fall flat.I’m sure there are probably some pearls to be gleaned along the way, but I am not willing to slog through 350+ pages to find them. I made it to the end of Chapter 2, page 34 before calling it quits.

  • Ceilidh
    2018-11-17 18:09

    Deborah Cavendish, better known as the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and the last remaining Mitford sister, has lived a life so eventful that it almost seems mythical. From her oft-discussed childhood with her five sisters to tea with Hitler and helping to revive the ailing fortunes of the famed Cavendish estate, there is much in Debo’s life that has yet to be covered by the numerous biographies, memoirs of her sisters and collections of letters that have packed the shelves. Unfortunately, “Wait For Me!” manages to achieve the impossible by being insufferably dull. Cavendish’s writing lacks the wit and skill that her sisters Nancy and Jessica seemed to pull off with ease, with random vignettes of plodding prose in place of a sturdier narrative. While there are moments of genuine wit, Cavendish’s storytelling priorities seem questionable. More time and attention is given to recounting her days of fox hunting and debutante balls than to tea with Hitler and attending John F. Kennedy’s inauguration (an event which shockingly made her miss the beginning of hunting season). An unashamedly conservative figure, the reader’s mileage may vary when it comes to Cavendish’s outrage over having to sell a few Rembrandts to pay inheritance tax, as well as her uncomfortable defence of her Nazi sympathising sisters Diana and Unity’s politics. The book earns some points with Debo’s stoic but heart-breaking account of becoming the last remaining Mitford, but “Wait For Me!” is oddly lacking in insight and one for hard core Mitford devotees only.

  • Jaylia3
    2018-12-10 16:28

    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.

  • Danielle Raine
    2018-11-25 15:34

    Wait for Me is much more than an account of life within the Mitford family (though that aspect is certainly entertaining). Throughout her life, Debo had a priveledged access to the highter echelons of society, both in her home country and, (as the wife of a government minister and close friend of Presidents), across the world. Although she was not born a Duchess, Debo did come from a very well connected aristocratic family. Despite this, she retained a down-to-earth personality - as happy on a haybale with horses and a sister as when seated next to the reigning monarch for dinner. This comes through quite clearly in her informal and friendly narration.What I found engaging was how Debo's life , her worries and problems, were so much like the rest of us 'normal' folk. From her portrayal of the social conventions of life in the early twentieth century, (the 'unwritten rules and nuances'), it seems money, class and breeding is no protection from the usual insecutities, shyness, even terrors of certain social events. And the extent to which fortunes fluctuate within a so-called 'wealthy' family was a real eye-opener. For example, being forced to move from a beloved childhood home for economic reasons is still heart-wrenching, even if the homes in question are larger and grander than your average National Trust property. Also, being familiar with the domestic challenge (on a smaller scale), it was interesting to see that owners of large houses still have a great deal of work to do, depsite their many staff. Aside from the accounts of places and events, I also enjoyed the tales of the characters from Debo's life, whose names would linger long after I stopped reading. (I can just picture the long-suffering Muv tolerating yet another Debutante Ball, longing for her bed.) There is a moving section toward the end of the book, where Debo documents the demise of family members (she appears to have outlived almost everyone mentioned in the book) and it is testament to her colourful and vivid portraits of friends and family, that I felt some empathy for her loss.For me, the sign of a good read is turning the last page with a mix of satisfaction and reluctance - having thoroughly enjoyed the book and feeling slightly sad that it's finished. Wait For Me fits that bill. I relished my week or two spent in Debo's world and will miss her cast of colourful characters and her down-to-earth take on life. I loved the glimpses into her life and her history - the country houses, the trips and travels, the trials of maintaining a stately home and, of course, her remarkable family.Still, my piqued interest had plenty of avenues to explore. I have added Debo's other books (and those of her intriguing sisters) to my ever-growing wishlist. I'm also planning a trip to Chatsworth later in the year. If I bump into the lively lady herself - I'll let you know!You'll love this book if you;• are interested the lives of the famous Mitford sisters• want an insider guide to life of a debutant• would like insights into the running of a stately home • are intrigued by the social lives of royalty, world leaders and the aristocracy during the last century

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-08 16:27

    I have been fascinated by the Mitfords for years so when I knew I was coming to the UK I decided that one of the books I would pack was Deborah Devonshire's memoir Wait for Me! Every member of the Mitford family has their own amazing points of interest whether it's Diana's marriage to fascist leader Oswald Moseley, Nancy's wit and literary career, or Unity's devotion to Hitler. They had their own languages and nicknames growing up that they continued to use their whole lives - the clan feels like a secret club that I desperately want to join. The youngest of the Mitfords, Deborah (Debo, DD) seems like the perfect conduit for the stories of her family as well as her husband's family at Chatsworth. She is unassuming, self-depricating, and completely charming as she talks about her adult life as the Duchess of Devonshire. She met everyone from the Shah to the Prime Minister (Uncle Harold) to JFK. Kennedy's sister was married to Debo's brother in law so she was intimately connected with the Kennedy family attending Jack's inauguration as well as his funeral. Debo and her husband resurrected his family's estate Chatsworth,taking it from deep debt after the death of his father to a flourishing sustainable business. DD takes very little credit but it's obvious that her hand was in much of it and that she is beloved by those who know and work for her. I definitely enjoyed the early portions of this book more than the later years. It's been a while since I've read Mary Lovell's biography of the Mitfords (which is a must-read for any Mitford fan with much more detail on the family than Deborah gets into here) so it was nice to get a refresher on the family and to hear some new stories from DD's perspective. This memoir doesn't get into a lot of conflicts - Debo talked openly about her sisters' controversial politics but simply states that she loves them regardless and moves on from there. But when she moves away from the Mitford and gets into her life as a Cavendish, the book starts to feel like an expanded version of her social calendar. Each gala event seems to have the same format describing who was there and one little anecdote from the evening. Some work better than others. As an New Englander, I was very interested to read the pieces about the Kennedys but didn't always follow the who's who of British society. Her writing is pleasant and I did close the book feeling like I just read about an old friend. Chatsworth is absolutely on my agenda while I'm here.

  • Rebecca Budd
    2018-12-07 17:36

    April 10, 2016 was National Siblings Day. I have two brothers and one sister who have been with me through good times, bad times and everything in between. They are the first ones I call to celebrate achievements and milestone. In times of decision, they are there to offer their support and guidance. In moments of sadness, I feel their presence in silent communion. They have been with me for my whole journey and will be with me as we move ever forward.By happy coincidence, April 10th was the day that I finished, “Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister” by Deborah Devonshire. It was the title “Wait for Me” that spoke to me, for it brought back memories of my own childhood. And I was intrigued by the grand age at which Debo (that’s her familiar name) penned her memoirs. A lot of things happen in 90 years. While it is not my usual reading material, I appreciated viewing the 20th century through Deborah Mitford’s reflections.There were seven siblings, born into a “minor aristocratic” family. That is the only time I would consider this family as “minor.” These siblings lived passionately and, in many respects, recklessly for their decisions brought them controversy and well as notoriety: Nancy, the oldest, was a writer who loved and lost. Next came Pamela, who enjoyed country life. Tom, the only boy of the family, died as a solder in Burma. Diana, who married well, chose to love another, became a fascist and spent time in prison. Unity became famous for her friendship with Adolf Hitler. Jessica (known as Decca) eloped with her lover to Spain, spent most of her years in the United States and became a communist. Last, but certainly not least, Deborah, the Duchess. This is the abridged version. The interesting part is the details that fill in a lifetime of living.While the writing lacked vitality in places, I discovered in Deborah a warm personality, someone who really cared about family and community. Here are my takeaways:1) Celebrate the life that is given. Deborah loved writing her story and looking back on a life well-lived.2) Decisions have consequences that effect an entire family.3) Siblings may not always agree, but differences and competitive behaviors can be overcome.4) Wealth does not necessary bring happiness.5) We live in a global community where external events influence our choices and our destinies.I read “Wait for Me” via audio-book which felt as if I was having tea with the Duchess at Chatsworth.https://ontheroadbookclub.com/2016/04...

  • Ali
    2018-11-17 23:13

    I have, over the last few years become something of a Mitford addict. Having read several biographies, a couple of collections of letters and many of Nancy's novels I am seriously hooked. Some of the tales recounted in the beginning of this book, I have encountered before - but I love them, it's like meeting up with old friends. Of course Debo (as any Mitford fan will know her) was born 16 years after the eldest Nancy, and so her childhood expirences and relationships with her siblings differ from those of say Nancy, and Diana who untill they were all adults, were not close confederates. Having read a lot of the Mitford childhood memoirs before, it was interesting to have a slightly different slant put upon things.Debo is a wit, and although not really political as such - she does, as we all do have her own opinions, and here writing as she was in her ninetieth year, she takes full advantage of the opportunity to express them, and have a little dig at certain Labour goverments of the past.I was left with the image of a strong, capable woman, who has lived an amazingly full life. Rubbing shoulders with many fascinating political figures, and living in some amazing houses. When she married Andrew Cavendish, Deborah never expected to be Duchess of Devonshire as Andrew was a younger son. However with the death of Andrew's brother during WW2 their lives changed. Her commitment to her family, and to Chatsworth is obvious and inspiring, and often poignant. I found it quite moving as Debo describes the deaths of three of her babies, her sisters and later her husband, She is dignified but honest about the reality of her husband's alcholism.

  • Lois
    2018-11-17 19:22

    Wait for Me, a Memoir by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire.Having just read Mary Lovell's "The Sisters", I found the first part of this repetitive with many of the same photos and stories. Lovell, however, is a much better writer. A good deal of this book is apparently based on her appointment books and diaries and seems like a recital of where she went, who she met, what she did, giving a detailed account of what it is like to be a duchess. She was a staunch Conservative and even demonstrated against the proposed ban on fox-hunting, Certainly she did a monumental job of saving Chatsworth , one of the stately homes of England. When her husband inherited it after World War II, they were faced with 80% taxes and resolved to keep it by turning over many of the works of art to the state, selling thousands of acres of property, and opening the home to the public and turning it into a thriving business. She certainly had an interesting life, traveling extensively and socializing with the rich and famous including the Kennedys and the Royal Family. And it wasn't all that easy - she also dealt with the death of three newborn babies and her husband's alcoholism. The appendices include her notes on President Kennedy's Inauguration, 1961 and his funeral in 1963. An interesting life and fairly well written.

  • Drayton Bird
    2018-11-24 21:33

    I thought this book - written at the age of 90 - very good indeed, and a fine corrective to those who think Downton Abbey accurately reflects the lives of the English Aristocracy.I was reminded of the phrase often used that someone "knew anybody who was anybody", because the author met an astonishing number of the people who shaped the 20th century and describes what they were like very well. The index gives you a pretty good idea. She had tea with Hitler,was related to Churchill, verhy friendly with the Kennedy family (actually sat next to Jack Kennedy during the inauguration - and was there at the funeral) had the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to stay, knew the Duke of Windsor quite well, was painted by Lucian Freud, offended by a drunken Evelyn Waugh - the list is extraordinary.Almost as extraordinary is her modesty, which gives the book added charm. Thoroughly recommend - especially to anyone who has read books by the other Mitford ladies - all of which are pretty good, by the way.

  • Bethany
    2018-12-02 19:30

    Not the most compelling read at times, but quite interesting. The bits about her sisters were golden, of course. Several mysteries from The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters were cleared up for me. Such as, what the phrase "Do admit." means. Those words often popped up in their letters and I was amused by it but could never figure out what they meant exactly. Also, I found out why everyone referred to Debo's friend, Kitty Mersey, as "Wife" or "My Wife". So, I was rather delighted to have those explained!

  • Kennedy
    2018-11-23 17:35

    I think the Mitford family is fascinating. They were such a part of history. I really enjoyed the first part of this book. It is Debo's childhood and teen years and has lots of great stories about her family members. However, when it got to the point where her father-in-law, the Duke of Devonshire died and the family had to pay death taxes it went down hill quickly for me. They had to pay 80% taxes, which yes, is a huge portion of their wealth. But when she's saying how they had to sell off 42,000 acres here and another 11,000 there and all these fabulous works of art. Boo freaking hoo. She even had a catty remark about how a Rembrandt they had to sell was only a drawing/practice/etc and not as important/worth as much as thought and haha on the government for that. They still were beyond wealthy and didn't have to work. They even left England to live AT THEIR CASTLE in Ireland because they didn't like the socialist governments of the time. I had a really hard time caring about all her after that point in the book. Maybe I just don't "get" aristocracy and how they deserve to have so much.The Sisters by Mary Lovell is a great book about all the Mitford girls which you should pick up. If you could get past her money comments then pick this one up, but I certainly could not.

  • Norma
    2018-11-21 23:13

    Wonderfully written account of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's early years as the youngest sibling in the well-known Mitford line-up. While I haven't rated it as "amazing," (doesn't always apply, does it?)* I loved this book. It's so funny to note that, as was often repeated in her letters to Patrick Leigh Fermor (in the book,"In Tearing Haste"), Debo was known to detest reading, which makes it hard to understand how she turned out to be such a good writer. There's a very good video online of a talk she gave, sponsored by the Frick in NYC; I recommend it. http://www.frick.org/interact/dowager...*Because of how it stuck in my mind after I'd finished the book, I knew I had to give it that last star.

  • Nette
    2018-11-14 21:27

    Mixed feelings. The first half, which describes her childhood, was charming and funny, although I've already read most of the same stories in her sisters' books. The second half, which focuses on her stately home(s) and her horses and her la-de-da guests, didn't interest me at all. She comes off as shallow and and clueless. I was put off by the running commentary about the the glorious past vs the annoying present. She pines for the days when people were SO much more glamorous, and it was easier to get good help, and the evil government didn't take all your money (money that your great-great-great-great grandfather-in-law stole from peasants). Somewhere in heaven her sister Jessica is banging her head against a wall (or a cloud), and Nancy is snorting and rolling her eyes.

  • David Conway
    2018-11-27 23:10

    A self-indulgent and ultimately tedious catalogue of names,dates and scandalous privilege. Were the author to acknowledge the last of these - rather than advocate, as she does, its preservation - one might feel more sympathetic. As it is, with the brouhaha surrounding the Queen's Jubilee already gathering strength, this book is a timely reminder of how class-ridden British society still is. Hitherto mildly left-leaning, nothing more, I now yearn for the sound of the tumbrels. Moreover, having gone along with the notion that the the Mitford sisters were fun,I now realise they were thoroughly charmless. That saddens me.

  • Rosemary
    2018-12-11 16:11

    It took me an inordinately long time to finish this book. I started it in one house, six years ago, and finished it in this house, three years after I moved here. I suppose since much of this book is taken up with houses, that's somewhat fitting.I confess I have a "thing" for the Mitford sisters (Pamela, Diana, Nancy, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah). I blame the BBC adaptation in the 70s of Nancy's Love in a Cold Climate. I've read one biography of the sisters (as a set) and have a second in my TBR pile. I find them a fascinating mass of contradictions, both personally, and as a set. Your milage may vary.Part of why I had problems with this is the turmoil in my own life, but part is...well, the book. The first half was wonderful. Funny, poignant reminiscences of the Mitford home and lives in the 1920s and 30's. But then, well, it got a bit...stodgy. The war years got something of short shrift (perhaps because she didn't want to compete with, or repeat, her own husband's autobiography/memoir), and I lost interest. But, well, with both she and Diana finally shaking off this mortal coil, I felt I had to finish it.The section on the 1950s is...gossipy and like listening to a private family talk when you don't know who anyone is, but feel you should. And, well, she's a bit insufferable in that part. All the worst of that class of British woman of that age. But, then...Chatsworth, and suddenly she is the best of it. The Duchess of Devonshire mucking in with the pigs and chickens and strawberry jam, getting muddy, and cold footed, and exhausted juggling the management of the estate and then having to trot off to London to put on the Ritz, and having Friend (that would be HRH Prince Charles) stop by for a weekend after just having Uncle Harry (Prime Minister) in for a shooting party, and then going off to the Royal Farm Show to live in a camper with her new-to-England horse breed to show them off and get others interested. As sister-in-law to JFK's sister Kick, and as a Duchess (due to the death of her husband's elder brother in WWII), Debo has a...unique perspective on some key elements of American history, and world history for that matter. Her staunch Conservatism comes through at times, but she is also an acute observer and seems fascinated by the world, and, except for British politics and personal behavior, seems rather non-judgmental, even if some of her attitudes do bespeak a certain...imperial attitude.I can't rate the book highly, because it is uneven, but when it is good it is funny, and insightful, and gossipy in the least malicious way possible. I am glad I finally finished it. But, sadly, it reminds me that the world is a slightly less interesting place now that The Six are all gone from us.

  • Angie
    2018-12-10 18:14

    I needed to read a memoir (a juicy one? Not sure this ended up fitting that description) for a reading challenge, and this caught my eye. Deborah Mitford Cavendish aka Debo aka Duchess of Devonshire saw a lot of changes take place in her lifetime; including living through the Second World War, losing several children in infancy, being married to an alcoholic, and dealing with lots of family drama as just a sampling. She was the youngest of the famous Mitford sisters, who include Nancy Mitford, the author, Unity Mitford, a Hitlerite, and 3 others. Being a member of British aristocracy, she tended to name drop a lot. I found this pretty entertaining, though. She also loves nicknames, but so do I, so I grinned through it all:) Her brother-in-law was married to Kick Kennedy so she had to ties to "American Royalty" as well. Her memories of President Kennedy and his family were neat to listen to. She talked a lot of the different homes she lived in with her family, with a big focus on Chatsworth, where she lived the longest. I found this quite interesting, and would love to visit the estate in person to see it all firsthand. She was a survivor, in all stretches and made a life for herself wherever she was. Her ideas were abundant and definitely made a positive impact. She lived a long ,full life, Overall, worth a read (or listen) if you have interest in British aristocracy or the Chatsworth estate. My interest is definitely piqued to read some of her sisters memoirs, especially Decca (Jessica) and Diana. I'd also like to try Nancy's novels (I'm embarrassed that I haven't already).

  • Maureen S
    2018-12-03 23:06

    Lovely read, a little slow in the middle with all the names of acquaintances. Understand now why Debo is so beloved.

  • Peter
    2018-12-09 15:30

    So let's get the pun out of the way asap. There is much chats-worth in this book. Indeed, a month's worth of chat all neat and tidy.Deborah Mitford's Wait for Me is a remarkable memoir. I found it candid, relaxed in tone, and, frankly, overwhelming. Overwhelming in a good way. In some ways it is a real Downton Abbey of the twentieth century. Among the pages stroll princes and the Queen, Prime Ministers and Presidents. Also, we met governesses, chauffeurs, gamekeepers, nurses and townspeople. We learn how the great family home of Chatsworth was saved from ruin and how it changed from its ancestral background to meet the needs of the new economic world.Deborah Mitford, the Duchess of Devonshire (DD), presents herself as an affable woman who is able to both endure hardship with iron reserve and enjoy the upper class comforts with ease and humour. The fact that she kept such scrupulous diaries and notes during her long life has allowed us to be her partner as we see the world she inhabited.Structurally, I was impressed with the organization of the novel. While there was a distinct chronological movement to her narrative, the book also managed through its structure of chapters to focus on an event, person, vignette or occurrence without disrupting the larger overall focus of her life. The DD's use of humour was often self-effacing and yet still managed to convey her sense of place and privilege. For example, recounting her first birth, she comments " I booked into Lady Carnarvon's nursing home, the Claridges of such places." An earlier comment that "I thought our upbringing was exactly like everyone else's. Perhaps it was not." Perhaps? Here we face one of the dilemmas and turning points of reading the memoir. There is much to dislike about what the book reveals about privilege and the class system that was certainly alive and well in England. How the reader will respond to the world that is unveiled before their eyes will determine, to a great degree, how one enjoys this book.Even though there is in great evidence of an incredible documentation of a life and a lifestyle, I found the DD to be curiously bloodless and lacking in emotion. The DD does recount her loss of children, she does reflect on the loss of her parents, her husband, and even offers us the opportunity to see her comments on both President Kennedy's Inauguration and his funeral, and yet there is a clear and present detachment to such major personal and international events. Is this part of the aristocratic code of control and detachment? Perhaps it is just part of the world most of us will never know or encounter. One event really amazed me. The DD was in Washington having dinner with President Kennedy during the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the day, in fact, before President Kennedy addressed the nation concerning Cuba. The DD recounts how the photographs of the missile installations were on a table and everyone was casually looking at them. We read that Kennedy was calm. I was 13 and I well remember sitting in from of our black and white TV. Both my parents and I were, candidly, afraid. Perhaps that's a difference between those who constantly live in a world of high society and high stress and the rest of us. The one group is pensive and calm; the rest of us are panicked or unnerved.I enjoy history, and the DD's recounting of the war years, the 50's and how English society changed as a result of the war was interesting to read. Indeed, while one must realize that a memoir is always suspect to not being completely candid, I came to a point in the reading were I simply sat back and read with fascination and enjoyment.I'm glad I read the book and I'm also glad there will not be a quiz where I have to remember who all the people in it are. Canada has a very tiny part in this book. Lester Pearson and John Turner make a cameo appearance and their part in the DD's life drama is unimportant. Oh, well.

  • CS
    2018-12-06 20:06

    Ah, the Mitford sisters.No matter if you are Team Nancy or Team Decca (the two sisters that seem to enjoy the most support, probably because both were prolific writers during their lives - and also because no one really wants to claim Team Unity or Team Diana thanks to their avid support of Fascism), there is something for everyone in Debo's memoir. The last surviving Mitford, Debo tells her side of the family lore already made familiar thanks to Nancy's fiction and Decca's autobiography. One has the feeling that the best Mitford stories will be taken to the grave; Debo is the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, after all. And while her voice is self-deprecating and charming, she is still very much a proper English aristocrat with quite a stiff upper lip. So familiar Mitford ground is trod, without much new in the way of shocking or insightful revelations. But it's a good tale all the same, and the first 1/3 of the book, devoted to Debo's childhood and young adult years, is quite fun. The book slows down once Debo marries Andrew Cavendish, second in line to the dukedom. His older brother Billy married Kick Kennedy, JFK's sister. Billy's death in World War II meant Andrew and Debo would inherit (and remain friends with the Kennedys, even though Kick also died very young.) And inherit they did - a pile of death duty debt. The remaining pages are split between Debo reminiscing (less charitable people might call it namedropping, but then she IS a duchess) about famous people she knew and the rescue of the Devonshire estate from the crippling tax burden. The latter, of course, is the triumphant tale of how Chatsworth came to be one of the most admired "stately homes" in the UK, thanks to several successful programs that draw visitors. I'm kicking myself for not visiting Chatsworth when I lived in the UK. Debo is very forthcoming when talking about her chickens and her improvements to Chatsworth. She is much more reticent when it comes to her marriage. The deaths of three of her children soon after birth are simply told, the pain still very much evident. But the inevitable pain of being married to a philandering alcoholic has the curtain drawn discretely over it. She does devote a few pages to the Duke's attempts to quit drinking and his eventual sobriety, but only because Andrew wrote about it in his own memoir. She doesn't mention his court testimony that made his habit of paying mistresses publicly known, nor that he used to wear a pullover with "Don't Marry a Mitford" emblazoned across it. Andrew admitted to feeling like a jealous adjunct to the Mitford myth, and one can only imagined it caused their relationship strain. But as Debo makes abundantly clear, she did not write this memoir to muck around in other people's lives.If you are interested in the Mitford sisters, then WAIT FOR ME! is worth a read. In her sisters' books, Debo is a bit written off - she was the baby, after all, born when Nancy was 16. Nancy called her "Nine," Debo's supposed mental age, and Decca sniffed that Debo had no other ambition than to marry very well. And Debo admits she is not an intellectual, and far more interested in country pursuits than academic ones. But, no matter how sanitized, it's good to get Debo's side of the story.However, if you are looking for an introduction to the Mitfords and want to read them in their own voices, this is not the book with which to start. Try Nancy's Love in a Cold Climate; Jessica's Hons and Rebels, or The Mitfords Letters Between Six Sisters.

  • Beth Bonini
    2018-12-01 20:17

    I have an insatiable fascination for the Mitford sisters, but I have mostly read about them from a biographer's point-of-view. (An exception would be Jessica Mitford's Hons and Rebels -- but Debo claims that a lot of the material in that was highly exaggerated!) This is no personal diary, though, and although interesting -- it is far from revealing. DD makes it clear that her sisters tended to keep their own counsel on personal matters and their innermost thoughts, even from each other; so with that in mind, I suppose it is hardly a surprise to discover that this memoir is neither soul-searching nor soul-baring. It manages to sound confiding, while telling you very little!Deborah Mitford was born in 1920, and thus is currently 90 -- but from the evidence of this memoir she is still as sharp as a tack AND has kept good notes! (She occasionally publishes snippets of letters and her personal diary, and those bits are much more colorfully written than this mostly very careful and correct memoir.) Every now and then she says something terribly candid, but for the most part she is too circumspect! The memoir is divided into chapters -- and inevitably, some chapters are more successful than others. I loved the chapters about her family, even though I had read most of the material in some other form (or from another perspective) before. I was also fascinated by her reminiscences about the war and her family's association with the Kennedys. Some chapters, though, read like the glamorous party that you were NOT invited to. Maybe it IS that way in aristocratic circles, but she manages to give the sense that she has never been anywhere without being surrounded by close friends -- most of whom are luminaries of some sort. Aly Kahn sells her a racehorse; Evelyn Waugh gives her a French hat; Jack Kennedy invites her to his inauguration; Prince Charles treats her to an 80th birthday party celebration . . . and on and on! It's interesting, but she presents a lot of it as a sort of historical record or social diary -- and leaves out her feelings almost entirely. (There is almost nothing about her children and grandchildren, and I wanted to know much more about her marriage.) While this is understandable, it left me wanting something with a bit more depth to it.

  • ^
    2018-11-25 23:18

    Deborah Devonshire (DD) writes superbly. She knows how to tell a story because she looks at the world not only from her own direct experience, but also from her ever-present keen consideration of those around her. To find such selflessness is a truly humbling experience in itself. There is a very British saying, 'By your friends ye are known'. Selflessness engenders deep and loyal friendships, and many, many of them. At this point I have to also compliment her editor, Charlotte Moseley, and her secretary, Helen Marchant; one can barely begin to imagine the invaluable assistance they have given in recording, ordering, consistency-checking, completing, and presenting this account of a remarkably chock-full life led to the full.Yes, there must always be a degree of ‘luck’ associated with what family one is born into, with what relatives; as well as into what year. Hindsight is a blessed gift. DD was born into a remarkable family (and extended families), and has lived, and continues to live, through a succession of extraordinary times. She has clearly suffered much tragedy and sadness. What this book humbly, but clearly, depicts is how she somehow always (or almost always) manages to find good in bad, consolation through grief, new growth from dead ends. What is truly remarkable is how understatedly and successfully DD communicates that very British, desirable, innate (unconsciously so) character which is the antithesis of the modern, present-day celebrity. I speak of the difference between one who thinks of and serves others before herself, and one who is wholly selfish and self-absorbed.At first, I thought, "why does this book contain photographs of her bedroom and sitting-room?" I concluded, "Because they are beautiful, elegant, and comfortable." Whether or not we possess ancestral antiques, we can all aspire to furnish our rooms with that thought in mind. Secondly, I thought how depressing it would be if even a duchess couldn’t have beautiful rooms!I'm always pleased to find a book which I have very, very, much enjoyed has been published by John Murray. I often buy older, second-hand, books based on that recommendation, and have never been let down.

  • Donna
    2018-11-12 21:09

    For an account of the fascinating lives of the Mitford family, Mary Lovell's "The Sisters" is a much better book, as well as anything written by Nancy Mitford or "Hons and Rebels" by Jessica Mitford. What this book adds is an account of youngest daughter Deborah's life: her early life with her eccentric family (writers, Nazi sympathizers, Communists, etc...) from her point of view, later WWII, and her life as one of the most privileged aristocrats in all of the UK, and her help in saving Chatsworth.What came across again and again to me however was her pride, lack of sympathy, and at times pettiness. She is so defensive of hereditary titles, she can't see straight. She mourns the high taxes they were forced to pay after the war, but I cannot feel sorry for someone who had to give up three of her six estates. Not hurting too much. The Duke and Duchess still owned Chatsworth and a CASTLE in Ireland! And never failed to have lavish parties and balls. She is completely without opinion or prejudice for her sisters Unity and Diana's love of the Nazis and British fascists, both during and after WWII. Yet she never misses an opportunity to degrade or insult sister Decca (Jessica) for her politics, an admitted Communist, who eventually left the party and became a champion of civil rights in America, and penned an important expose of the funeral industry. Deborah chastises Decca at one point when she is visiting her in the US and notices her stealing two hotel towels and how horrified she is at her "thieving ways." Yet Deborah is perfectly fine with taking a hoard of vintage couture gowns which were meant as a donation, given by a friend of the family, to a women's charity and keeping them for herself and Diana! Worth FAR more than a couple of hotel towels. That is not stealing??!! This sounds like a minor point, but it is one of many that describes her haughty tone throughout. An interesting read, but drags in the last third.

  • Lisa Jarman
    2018-11-29 22:27

    A really interesting book about a remarkable life of duty and privilege. The book can be a little dry in places but it isn't without humour. What i found really fascinating was how having a title could really open doors for you in the past in a way that it probably no longer does. Deborah Devonshire is obviously a bright and energetic individual who gets involved with many organisations and companies, making a great success of her roles but you do wonder if she would have been on the board of Tarmac, for example, if she hadn't been the Duchess of Devonshire.The passages about her sisters are the warmest and most touching in the book. I am surprised though that, given the number of good friends and family that she lost during the war, that the bit that covered the meeting with Hitler was written in such a matter of fact way. I can see she must have struggled with how to portray her sisters' political views in the book without leading the reader to pass judgement on them. That she wants you to see them the way that she does. She makes more remarks about Jessica's behaviour than about Unity, whose behaviour must have been really difficult for her parents to understand and whose attempted suicide seems to have affected their marriage.The author is really complimentary about her husband's achievements but what is missing is that feeling of intimate affection and it does make you feel as if his years of alcoholism may have taken a toll on their marriage. Altogether an interesting and compelling read.

  • Carolyn
    2018-11-16 18:19

    Well, I loved this book, but then I'm a bit of an anglophile and I did visit Chatsworth 14 years ago (and stayed at the wonderful Devonshire Arms)and found it breathtaking. I'm also fascinated by the Mitford sisters and have read a number of works about them. This autobiography combines all those interests in a sort of perfect storm. Add into that elements of the Kennedy's, the Bright Young People of the 20's/30's, a ton of great discussion of architecture, gardening and a wide smattering of various historical personages of the last century and you have, what for me at any rate, is a great read. Additionally, the Duchess is a charming, funny and gracious narrator of her life--particulary for a Brit aristocrat. She has borne an amazing array of triumphs and sorrows--including the loss of three babies and her husband's alcoholism, not to mention the shames and triumphs of her siblings. I would love to sit and chat with her for any time at all.

  • Margaret Heller
    2018-12-10 18:26

    It's no secret that I have long had a slight obsession with the Cavendish family, and in particular the women who have married into this family. I spent one of the most gleeful days of my life wandering around Chatsworth in 2004. I also have long had a slight obsession with the Mitfords: six sisters who exemplified in their own lives nearly every political movement of the twentieth century-- fascism, communism, socialism, conservatism, apathy. And they all were delightful writers, even when their politics were ugly. Deborah is the only one left-- the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, and is 91 this year. This is a look at her whole life and that of her family, and truly fascinating. My only complaint is that I couldn't keep dates and spouses straight without looking up the family tree in another book I own about the Mitfords.

  • DeB MaRtEnS
    2018-11-18 23:24

    A string of memories recounted, told as though the reader must already know the cast of Deborah's life characters and strewn with pet names which the British upper classes seem to love adorning their very "in crowd" with. I found the style garrulous, unstructured and confusingly hodgepodge. Even though I persisted gamely until half way through, the historical context simply was missing. I wished to learn about this woman, the history around her and her importance. She was incapable of serving up anything beyond the fishbowl within she lived. I didn't know that I needed to do scads of research beforehand to make sense of what for me was indecipherable and simply boring.