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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Turning the house upside down

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters is full of laconic zingers. Last night I was reading about the occasion in 1972 when Chatsworth House got a bomb threat. It promised the bomb would go up in half an hour. One of the house guests went and moved their new car to make sure it wouldn't be affected by any blast. Never mind the Velasquez, thought the Duchess Of Devonshire. They evacuated the house and rang the police, who arrived twenty minutes later.
"Do you want us to search the house?" they asked.
"It may take you more than ten minutes," she said.

10 comments:

  1. So pleased you're reading this excellent book. It's interesting, funny and touching in equal measure. Such marvellous lives, and such a faithful retelling in their own words.

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  2. I worked with someone who was a regular business visitor to Colombia - he would always book a room at the back of a hotel, as the front alway took the brunt of car bomb explosions

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  3. gunnerboy5:06 pm

    I was at Chatsworth very recently. On a sunny day, the gardens are one of the truly wonderful places to be.

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  4. No (more) spoilers, please. This book is by the bed ready to be read next.

    Thanks!

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  5. Shh, don't tell Collins!

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  6. I know little about the Mitford sisters, but was intrigued by how fascinated Andrew Collins became with them. Is the book of letters a good place to start or should I try a more straightforward biography of one or more of them first?

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  7. I would guess that a straight biography would be a simpler way in. There are a lot of letters in this book but it is a unique reading experience to be able to survey a six-way correspondence across entire lifetimes.

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  8. There's a one-hour interview with Jessica Mitford, conducted by Christopher Hitchens in front of an American audience, available for nothing on iTunes. It's fascinating.

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  9. Thanks for the tip. Will investigate.

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  10. Also available on iTunes: Jessica Mitford's renditions of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", "Grace Darling" and "Right Said Fred" (sung with Maya Angelou). File under "Did that really happen??".

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