If you walk or use public transportation on a regular basis, you’re probably familiar with the recurring nightmare where you fall, injure yourself, and thus are entirely, and utterly, screwed. This nightmare entered my waking life this February. One slip on the ice and my left ankle was in a cast for six weeks.
Perhaps it was Valentine’s Day inspired, or simply kismet, but as I was looking for some comforting reading to suit my newly injured mood, I saw a recommendation of Nancy Mitford’s novels THE PURSUIT OF LOVE and LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE. As I am a P. G. Wodehouse–reading, “Downton Abbey”–watching gal, Mitford seemed up my alley, and I was not disappointed.
In THE PURSUIT OF LOVE, Fanny Wincham lives with her aunt Emily and spends her holidays with her aunt Sadie’s family, the Radletts, at their Alconleigh estate. Fanny narrates their antics and relates the tidbits she hears of her mother, known as The Bolter, who carries on an adventurous and risqué life abroad while Fanny is raised by her aunts. Fanny and her cousins have a rather eccentric childhood, full of hunting, daydreaming about the Prince of Wales, and gathering in an upstairs cupboard for meetings of their secret society. Naturally, everyone grows up in most interesting ways during the course of the novel, particularly Fanny’s cousin Linda.
In LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE, Fanny relates the story of Polly Hampton, the daughter and heiress of nearby Hampton, the estate of Lord and Lady Montdore. Polly makes an outrageous choice for a husband and everyone connected with her has to deal with the fallout. I’ll say no more, just that I defy anyone not to love the absurd and fantastically drawn Lady Montdore, Boy Dougdale, and Cedric Hampton.
Ladies and gentlemen, I affirm that, while absorbed in Mitford’s novels, not only did my ankle heal itself, it disappeared completely! (Unfortunately, it also reappeared, aches included, upon putting the books down. But almost 500 pages worth of forgetfulness was welcome nonetheless.)
Do yourself a favor and read Mitford just for the fun of it; medicinal reasons are not strictly necessary and she will do you good no matter what.