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An American in Paris

The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate, and The Brontes Went to Woolworths

I've been reading some British stuff written during, and about, the Between the Wars era. I love this period in novels - things are trivial and silly but with an edge of doom and underlying seriousness attached to everything.

First I checked out The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. I hadn't read them sooner because for some reason I had thought that they were serious books about serious girls having sad love affairs. When, actually, The Pursuit of Love is about a very fun girl, Linda Radlett, who has sad, but also rather funny, love affairs. This was a really well-written book that made me laugh out loud, but which was also very moving. Linda is frivolous but also earnest. Her love affairs leave her disappointed and disillusioned and confused, but she never stops believing that love exists.

Love in a Cold Climate, although it has a better title, isn't as much fun, or as interesting as The Pursuit of Love. It's still enjoyable, but the main characters aren't as good company. This one is about Polly Hampton, a rather cold fish, who falls in love with her uncle by marriage (a rather gross older man). It definitely had its moments, but it didn't add up to much.

The Brontes Went to Woolworths was a big let down. I had heard about how much fun this book was for a while, but it was actually fairly drippy. Written in 1931 by Rachel Ferguson, it's about three sisters (Deirdre, Katrine, and Sheil) who live with their widowed mother. Katrine is studying to be an actress, Deirdre is a journalist, and Sheil is still in the nursery with a governess. The family is very "fanciful" and they create pretend people to be friends with and have a hard time distinguishing between the real and the imagined. When their mother has jury duty, this starts a pretend friendship they all have with the Judge and his wife. But then one day Deirdre meets the real Judge's wife and tries to make them their real-life friends as well.

This would've been fine except the book is told in first person by Deirdre and is very much "aren't we just so original and creative and sensitive?" all the time. Highly annoying.


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