The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale
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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Riveting. The Six captures all the wayward magnetism and levity that have enchanted countless writers without neglecting the tragic darkness of many of the sisters’ life choices and the savage sociopolitical currents that fueled them.” – Tina Brown, The New York Times Book Review

The eldest was a razor-sharp novelist of upper-class manners; the second was loved by John Betjeman; the third was a fascist who married Oswald Mosley; the fourth idolized Hitler and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany; the fifth was a member of the American Communist Party; the sixth became Duchess of Devonshire.

They were the Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah. Born into country-house privilege in the early years of the 20th century, they became prominent as “bright young things” in the high society of interwar London. Then, as the shadows crept over 1930s Europe, the stark―and very public―differences in their outlooks came to symbolize the political polarities of a dangerous decade.

The intertwined stories of their stylish and scandalous lives―recounted in masterly fashion by Laura Thompson―hold up a revelatory mirror to upper-class English life before and after WWII. The Six was previously published as Take Six Girls.

Review

“An engrossing group biography." - The New York Times Book Review, Editor''s Choice

“Meticulously researched, elegantly written. . . . Thompson treats her subjects with great sympathy, even in their ugliest moments. An artful history of a most enthralling family.” The Atlantic, “Best Books We Missed in 2016”

"Lively, gossipy, and at times quite moving" - The Boston Globe

“Thompson’s biography of some of the most infamous sisters of the 20th century explores the answer to the question: how did one family produce such a remarkable range of [women]?”Time.com

"Juicy and delightful . . . for fans of WWII history, funny, complicated, and fascinating women, and sisterly spats" - Jessica Grose, Lenny Letter

"Meticulously researched, elegantly written ... an artful history of a most enthralling family." The Atlantic

“Smart, jaunty, and wittily entertaining . . . Steeped in Mitford lore and myth-making, The Six offers sharply drawn portraits of each woman, teases out the complexities of their fraught, competitive relationships with one another, and sets their lives within the context of a radically changing world.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

UK Praise
"Engaging . . . Thompson''s is an astute, highly readable and well assembled book, and she writes with particular intelligence about the sisters'' self-mythologising and their ongoing hold on the public imagination." – The Observer

"Thompson is marvellous at mapping and explicating the webs or skeins of sibling rivalry [in this] gripping and appalling family saga." – The Times

"The first book to consider "the whole six-pack" in the post-Mitford age. And what a remarkable story it is ... Thompson retells the story with great style and illuminating detail." The Independent

"A breezy vigorous argument for the sisters'' powerful, unrepeatable significance ... Thompson combines a subtle understanding of history with enjoyably crisp, tart insights: this is an excellent place either to begin with the Mitfords or proceed with them." Mail on Sunday

"I was captivated by this group biography, which tells the story of the Mitfords'' sensational lives in a fresh and concise way." Sunday Express

"This is a careful, realistic assessment of their virtues, follies and charm." Daily Mail

"Not the first-ever book about the Mitford sisters - but it might well be the best of the lot." Reader''s Digest

About the Author

LAURA THOMPSON is a writer and freelance journalist. She won the Somerset Maugham award for her first book, The Dogs, and is also the author of the critically acclaimed biography of Nancy Mitford, Life in a Cold Climate, Agatha Christie: An English Mystery (2007) and A Different Class of Murder: the Story of Lord Lucan (2014).

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3.8 out of 53.8 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

John D. CofieldTop Contributor: Fantasy Books
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Siblings In Love And War
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2016
The six daughters of the 2nd Lord Redesdale were born between 1904 and 1920, and their lives whether short or long have come to emulate much of the twentieth century''s brightest and darkest periods. Laura Thompson''s joint biography of the sisters focuses on their lives as... See more
The six daughters of the 2nd Lord Redesdale were born between 1904 and 1920, and their lives whether short or long have come to emulate much of the twentieth century''s brightest and darkest periods. Laura Thompson''s joint biography of the sisters focuses on their lives as part of one family that was sometimes loving, often in conflict, and always eccentric. The timeframe runs roughly from the marriage of their parents (but including some necessary preliminary background) to the death of their widowed mother in 1963, with an Afterwards summarizing the sisters'' later years.

The Mitford Girls in order of birth were Nancy, a highly successful novelist and historian; Pamela, who quietly suffered the aftereffects of polio and possibly some learning disabilities, leading a quiet rural life for the most part; glamorous Diana, who made a glittering Society wedding at 18 and then left her husband for Sir Oswald Mosley and Fascism; Unity, so enamored of Hitler and Nazism that she became notorious in her early twenties, then died from the after effects of a botched suicide attempt in 1948; Jessica the Communist, a rebel who abandoned her parents and sisters and eventually became a notable muckraking journalist in the United States; and Deborah, who married a man who became Duke of Devonshire, making her the chatelaine of one of the grandest private houses in England.

The six girls, along with their beloved only brother Tom (who was killed at the end of World War II) had an aristocratic but eccentric upbringing. Their father inherited a sizeable estate but lost nearly all of it to bad management and bad luck, while their mother was notably detached from her husband and children even by Edwardian standards. Uneducated except for governesses and some short periods in private schools here and there, they fed their sharp minds in an excellent family library and picked up more knowledge through travel and from their large circle of friends. Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s the Mitfords seemed to know everyone who was anyone, not only in British Society but in the government (Winston Churchill''s wife was Lord Redesdale''s cousin). Through Sir Oswald Mosley Diana made contact with Hitler and other German leaders, while Unity basically stalked the Fuhrer and inveigled her way into his inner circle. Jessica''s writing career made her well known throughout Europe and the US, and Deborah''s husband''s connections allowed her to claim John F. Kennedy, among others, as a relative.

Thompson does a good job depicting not just the glitter and humor in the sisters'' lives but the sadnesses as well. There was a long line of abandoned husbands and lovers, some children who were miscarried or died in childhood. Infamy as well as fame stalked the Mitfords. Diana spent years in prison as a possible security risk during World War II, and Jessica was shadowed by the FBI for years during the 1950s. Family arguments and political differences meant Jessica and Diana never met or spoke for decades. I felt that Thompson was a little too eager to explain away or downplay some of the less amusing aspects of the sisters'' lives: Diana''s comment in her autobiography that while the Holocaust was terrible the Jews did partly bring it on themselves, Unity''s approving tour of Dachau and her statement "I want everyone to know I am a Jew-hater," or Jessica''s remaining an active Communist Party member long after the horrors of Stalinism had become impossible to ignore. I enjoyed Thompson''s chatty tone and parenthetical asides, though Americans who aren''t Anglophiles or otherwise close followers of British news and culture might not understand some of her allusions.

Another joint biography of the Mitford sisters which has more detail, especially on the period after their parents'' deaths, is Mary Lovell''s "The Sisters". Selina Hasting''s "Nancy Mitford" and David Pryce-Jones'' biography "Unity Mitford" are also illuminating, as are Jessica Mitford''s memoirs "Hons and Rebels" (US title "Daughters and Rebels") and "A Fine Old Conflict", Deborah Duchess of Devonshire''s "Wait For Me" and Diana
Mosley''s "A Life of Contrasts." There are also several books of letters to and from the sisters edited by Diana''s daughter-in-law Charlotte Mosley as well as "Decca," a collection of Jessica''s letters edited by Peter Y. Sussman.
54 people found this helpful
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PracAdemic
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An incomplete meal
Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2016
This book was written for Mitford aficionados. In reading the introduction on my Kindle, I checked twice to make sure I hadn''t somehow jumped to the concluding chapter, because the introduction assumed such a high level of familiarity with the sisters, their spouses, and... See more
This book was written for Mitford aficionados. In reading the introduction on my Kindle, I checked twice to make sure I hadn''t somehow jumped to the concluding chapter, because the introduction assumed such a high level of familiarity with the sisters, their spouses, and their milieu. It is, on the whole, a very sympathetic biography, bending over backwards, for example, to make the embrace of fascism by Diana, Unity and mother Mitford "understandable." Thompson is far less sympathetic to Nancy and Jessica Mitford, the two more leftist sisters and the more accomplished amongst an accomplished set, for reasons that are not entirely clear. There is a good deal of amateur psychologizing on the one hand, and huge information gaps, especially during their youth, on the other. The book, however, is an easy read and I have arresting sense of four of the six sisters, as well as their indomitable mother and affable, but ineffectual father.
41 people found this helpful
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clh123
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointed
Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2017
I wanted so badly to like this book, as the premise and these women sound really interesting. However, I found the writing style very difficult to follow. The story jumps around, as do the nicknames, which makes following what is happening annoying at best and difficult at... See more
I wanted so badly to like this book, as the premise and these women sound really interesting. However, I found the writing style very difficult to follow. The story jumps around, as do the nicknames, which makes following what is happening annoying at best and difficult at worst.
18 people found this helpful
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John
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Flawed but Interesting
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2017
I agree with less enthusiastic readers that the writing style is a bit "blowsy" and that the author fails to lay as clear a framework for the complex narratives of the six sisters as one might wish. Indeed, the book seems at times to take place in an echo chamber... See more
I agree with less enthusiastic readers that the writing style is a bit "blowsy" and that the author fails to lay as clear a framework for the complex narratives of the six sisters as one might wish. Indeed, the book seems at times to take place in an echo chamber of a mind that is already fully informed about the details that surround the sisters. And, of course, Pamela and Deborah get far less attention than the others. But the book is very engaging notwithstanding these problems. It is also insightful on many points. The author astutely notices how the sisters'' often bizarre actions took place within the assurances of their social standing. She also insightfully accounts for the psychological tensions that drove the family. The only exception is a puzzling and troubling neutrality about Diana''s fascism, imprisonment, and her life long failure to come to terms with the moral calamity of her beliefs. The accounts of Nancy, who is by far the most engaging of the sisters, is fresh and endearing, which might surprise some who knew her. There is also a delightful series of descriptions of the colorful, if minor, figures who surrounded the sisters. One learns, for example, that Nancy dated a man who passionately kissed her brother at Eton.
8 people found this helpful
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C. M Mills
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Six Mitford Sisters are the subjects of this new biography by Brit Laura Thompson
Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2017
The Six were the famous (or should I say infamous?) British siblings who lived a life of wealth, culture, eccentricity and also dark days of despair and trial. Their biographer is Laura Thompson, a British author. The Mitford girls were all born in the first twenty... See more
The Six were the famous (or should I say infamous?) British siblings who lived a life of wealth, culture, eccentricity and also dark days of despair and trial. Their biographer is Laura Thompson, a British author.
The Mitford girls were all born in the first twenty years of the twentieth century. Their parents were descendants of ancient British stock. The girls were privately educated and enjoyed reading and outdoor sports including hunting with the hounds and enjoying the company of a wide range of pets. They were all beautiful and became popular in high class British society. They are:
Nancy-The oldest daughter who became a famous novelist noted for Love in a Cold Climate and Wigs on the Grass. She loved France and died there in 1973. She was very jealous of Diana the prettiest of the Mitford women. Nancy was the most intellectual of the Mitford women.
Jessica was loved by the famous poet John Betjeman. She comes off as colorless compared to the other sisters.
Diana-The infamous wife of Oswald Mosley the British Fascist leader. She spent years in prison for her support of Fascism during World War II. She was a personal friend of Hitler; she married Mosely in a wedding ceremony held in the home of Dr. Joseph Goebbels the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. A complex woman for whom this reviewer has ambivalent feelings of loving and loathing.
Unity Valkyrie Mitford was born in Swastika Canada where her father David and wife Sydney had gone in search of gold. She loved Hitler and tried to shoot herself to death in a suicide attempt shortly after war had been declared between Great Britain and Germany in 1939. She was mentally il;l and died in 1948 never recovering from her near fatal self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Jessica became a Communist until 1958. She and her husband participated in the Spanish Civil War. She relocated to the United States and is famous as the author of the American Way of Death.
Deborah was a fairly conventional woman and became the Duchess of Devonshire. She was the last of the sisters to die doing so in 2014.
The book is written in a chatty, slangy upper class British style that takes some getting used to for we American readers. A miniseries could be made on the Mitfords! I deplore the support given the Nazi regime by Diane and Unity and also Jessica''s becoming a communist. These women were a mixture of good and bad elements with very diverse opinions and lifestyles. They were iconoclastic and fascinating.
5 people found this helpful
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Angelica Lussich
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A window into a world that no longer exists.
Reviewed in the United States on June 30, 2018
Very interesting reading of a fascinating set of sisters in times of political and social upheaval in Europe of the first half of the 20th Century. Incredible how most of them had such opposite political positions and almost ruined their lives pursuing different... See more
Very interesting reading of a fascinating set of sisters in times of political and social upheaval in Europe of the first half of the 20th Century. Incredible how most of them had such opposite political positions and almost ruined their lives pursuing different ideologies. Except for Deborah, the youngest, I believe none of them were truly happy but of course, they came from a very strait-laced aristocratic background difficult to understand in modern times and in an open non-English society. This book is a window into a world that no longer exists,
PS: I had already read ALL of Nancy Mitford''s books (some almost autogiographies), so I already knew what their place in society was all about!!
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Mary Hopper
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Where was this author''s editor?
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2017
Instead of explaining anything about the personality of various of the siblings, she makes a comparison to a character from an obscure novel - almost as though she was showing off that she had read a lot of books. While explaining the entanglements created some challenges... See more
Instead of explaining anything about the personality of various of the siblings, she makes a comparison to a character from an obscure novel - almost as though she was showing off that she had read a lot of books. While explaining the entanglements created some challenges in presenting the history in any clear chronology, this was a muddle. I found myself wanting to smack her for doing what I perceived as a disservice to a fascinatingly flawed family. When our book club rebelled at finishing the book, I gave them the link to Wikipedia and the excellent Vanity Fair article - that is what we will discuss tonight.
11 people found this helpful
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Hayati
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Really a nice addition to the ''Mitford girl'' lore
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2016
Really a nice addition to the ''Mitford girl'' lore. Thompson writes a meandering narrative that brings all the sisters together contextualizing the times and the environment of the period between the wars in which they lived. She places the Mitfords in the British class... See more
Really a nice addition to the ''Mitford girl'' lore. Thompson writes a meandering narrative that brings all the sisters together contextualizing the times and the environment of the period between the wars in which they lived. She places the Mitfords in the British class system beautifully - and in many ways, their stories are the stories of our times - with families divided by extreme political positions. As there are now, the fears were palatable - people afraid of change, of losing their positions in society, and desperately trying to hold on the roles they assumed they were entitled to. She brings their stories into post war Britain and America.
2 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Linda Pollitt
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good introduction to the Mitfords
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 8, 2018
I enjoyed every page of this although the author was a little hard on Nancy! A good introduction to the Mitfords, whetting the appetite to discover more about them individually.
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Mo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent Read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2021
Excellent book very interesting read arrived on time well packaged
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M Clark
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Provides a superficial understanding of the Mitford family
Reviewed in Germany on March 15, 2021
The Mitford family is fascinating. Unfortunately, this book is written for people that already know everything about the family and their writings. It''s style sounds like a commentary of the various writings of the family members instead of being a biography of the family...See more
The Mitford family is fascinating. Unfortunately, this book is written for people that already know everything about the family and their writings. It''s style sounds like a commentary of the various writings of the family members instead of being a biography of the family members. Each paragraph flits from topic to topic and person to person without diving in to discuss anything in particular. As a result, you feel no real empathy with any of the people discussed and are left feeling that you only have a superficial understanding of the family.
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Occcasional Shopper
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting family
Reviewed in Canada on January 5, 2019
This biography of the Mitford sisters is difficult to follow, and all over the place. A good introduction and some decent footnotes. Suggest you read The Sisters by Mary Lovell first.
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Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disapointing
Reviewed in Canada on October 4, 2016
The events the Mitfords observed and/or participated in were pivotal to the 20th Century and yet the telling of their story failed to capture my interest. Certainly the cast of characters is large and the intermingling of the principals in one another''s lives complicates...See more
The events the Mitfords observed and/or participated in were pivotal to the 20th Century and yet the telling of their story failed to capture my interest. Certainly the cast of characters is large and the intermingling of the principals in one another''s lives complicates the narrative, but it feels as though the editor could have been of greater help.
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The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale

The Six: The high quality Lives 2021 of the Mitford Sisters online sale