“So tell me, since all these years what have you become?
Oh, it’s a long story – or rather a long book of short stories”
The Blessing ~ Nancy Mitford
What is most pleasant perhaps about the book is the absolute lack of melodrama. The central characters include the poster-child of the demure English rose of a lady – Grace and her husband Charles-Eduoard (a French aristocrat who is constantly and unabashedly in pursuit of other women) and their son Sigismond, who is perhaps one of the most delightful child characters to have been penned down in a book. While Grace loses her patience with her skirt-chasing husband and separates from him, moving back to England – their son Sigi soon realises that he benefits more from having his parents apart and does everything in his power to keep it so. Full of wit and colourful characters, it is impossible not to be amazed by the clandestine goings-on of post-war European glitterati. In the end, in the war of elegance between the French and English, the English always win. But then of course, this is a book written in English by an English woman. But I’m sure she knew what she was talking about.
Why you should read it:
- As a satire it is a key statement on the dysfunction and amorality that reigned freely in post-war Europe and how easily accepted it all was
- The read is almost laugh-out-loud funny
- The book is written from Nancy Mitford’s own personal experience of having lived in Paris and is believed to have herself been in love with a Charles-Eduoard like personality
- It has a part where it gives you a heart warming view of the English take on homosexuality as compared to the Americans (remember that it was published way back in 1951)
- Sigi – a brat, a son I’d wish upon my worst enemy for sure. Nonetheless, he is wildly entertaining and too mature for his age
Why you shouldn’t read it:
- If you take away the humour from the book, you might realise how society then and even now perceive male infidelity as a humorous hobby
- Not to give too much away, I didn’t particularly like the character of Grace who continued to remain in love with her husband despite him being a reckless womaniser.