The autobiography of one of Britain's most beloved figures, last of the Mitford sisters, renowned writer and social figure.
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 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.
In this sparkling memoir, the Duchess (The Pursuit of Laughter) writes about her famously eccentric family and the upper reaches of the British aristocracy with whom she has mingled during her long life (she'll turn 91 in March). She was related to Winston Churchill's wife, Clementine, and to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. In 1938, she met her future husband, Andrew Cavendish, and socialized with the Kennedy's. As their guest, she attended JFK's inauguration, and then his funeral, and writes movingly of both events. When her husband inherited his title, she became the mistress of Chatsworth; the Devonshire family estate dated back to the time of Henry VIII and contained fabulous treasures, including original Rembrandt paintings, and Mitford helped manage a variety of enterprises connected with it. In the 60s, Andrew served as a Minister of State and the couple travelled widely. A staunch conservative herself, her family's politics tended to be more extreme. Her parents sympathized with Nazi Germany, her sister Unity, a close companion of Hitler, attempted suicide at the start of hostilities, and sister Diana, wife of British fascist Oswald Mosley, was jailed. Full of absorbing anecdotes, Mitford's wonderfully-written tale of a tumultuous era is fascinating. Norman Parkinson's iconic 1952 photo of the Duchess adorns the cover.
It's long and my attention wavered at times. Could a book about antiquated aristocrats be worth reading? Often yes. Her eccentric and probably mostly disagreeable family are reasonably entertaining. She still loves family although Unity (who sat at beloved Hitler's feet), Jessica the scornful communist, & Diana (Oswald Mosley's mate) can't have been too sweet. Two sister's seemed relatively normal and the writer herself probably the most normal of all, if you can call being the Duchess of Devonshire a normal life.
Her stories about bringing Chatsworth House back to life and bits and pieces of the amazing group of people she knew and entertained are good. Her fascination with high fashion less so.
Really anyone with even slight writing talent, that has lived through 90 years of history is worth listening to.
Time well spent
This is a look into a world long gone - well written, fast and easy to read
Would make a great gift to anyone who has an interest in the life of a great family before during and after WW2
No Images Included in Book Downloaded via iTunes
The downloaded version does not include the numerous photos that are included in the actual hardcopy book. That made the writing rather hollow. I would recommend buying the physical book.