The compelling love story of two extraordinary individuals - Nancy Mitford and Free French commander Gaston Palewski - living in extraordinary times - immortalised in THE PURSUIT OF LOVE
'A delicious mix of drama, melancholy and enchantment' DAILY EXPRESS
'Entertainingly caustic' SUNDAY TIMES
'Bringing to life the worlds of Nancy Mitford's novels' INDEPENDENT
'Oh, the horror of love!' Nancy Mitford once exclaimed. Elegant and intelligent, Nancy was a reknowned wit and a popular author. Yet this bright, waspish woman, capable of unerring emotional analysis in her work gave her heart to a well-known philanderer who went on to marry another woman. Was Nancy that unremarkable thing - a deluded lover - or was she a remarkable woman engaged in a sophisticated love affair?
Gaston Palewski, was the Free French commander and one of the most influential politicians in post-war Europe. His and Nancy's mutual life was spent amongst the most exciting, powerful and controversial figures in the centre of reawakening Europe. She supported him throughout his tumultuous career and he inspired some of her best work, including The Pursuit of Love. Lisa Hilton's provocative book reveals how, with discipline, gentleness and a great deal of elegance, Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski achieved a very adult ideal.
Even readers unfamiliar with English novelist Nancy Mitford will enjoy the historical sweep of her life as captured by Hilton (Queens Consort). Not quite a straight biography, the book tells the stories, sometimes in parallel and sometimes intersecting, of Nancy and her muse and romantic partner, Gaston Palewski. A close confidant of Charles de Gaulle, Gaston defied humble origins to serve as a Free French commander during WWII and became a powerful politician afterwards. After meeting Mitford at a London garden party in 1942, he became her lover. Despite his many other conquests, the couple never quite extinguished their nonmonogamous bliss, though a late-in-life marriage to a young countess (fulfilling a lifetime of social climbing) ended the affair. By contrast Mitford, born to privilege if not wealth as a member of English nobility, palled around with Evelyn Waugh as her sisters Diana and Unity dallied with Nazism, and achieved fame of her own with the 1945 publication of The Pursuit of Love, which immortalized Gaston in fiction as the "ideal French lover," Fabrice de Sauveterre. Hilton, in engaging fashion, argues that their relationship embodied the "civilized," "rational" vision of love put forth in Mitford's novels.