Hons and Rebels

Hons and Rebels

Jessica Mitford, the great muckraking journalist, was part of a legendary English aristocratic family.

Her sisters included Nancy, doyenne of the 1920s London smart set and a noted novelist and biographer; Diana, wife to the English fascist chief Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, who fell head over in heels in love with Hitler; and Deborah, later the Duchess of Devonshire.

Jessica swung left and moved to America, where she took part in the civil rights movement and wrote her classic expose of the undertaking business, The American Way of Death.Hons and Rebels is the hugely entertaining tale of Mitford's upbringing, which was, as she dryly remarks, not exactly conventional.

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I really enjoyed this book. Before reading this book it is helpful to already be acquainted with the basics about the family. For that I recommend The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. What I was given I thoroughly enjoyed, but I really did want more, more about the years to come and more about why the couple chose to go to America and not Russia! After this I went on to read a novel by Jessicas authorial sister, Nancy Mitford.

And also, The American Way of Death made a **huge** impression on me as a boy, so I wanted to know more about Miss Mitford. Her completely unconventional upbringing wuth a mother who refused to vaccinate her (a decision with a horrible, tragic cost later: Mitford contracted measles and gave them to her newborn daughter, who died as a result), contending that "the Good Body" knew its stuff, and a father whose major occupations appear to have been shouting and stomping and campaigning for Conservative politicians. Her wildly disparate sisters, novelist Nancy as the eldest and the most remote from Jessica; Diana, the great beauty and future Fascist; and Unity, the tragic figure of the family, a giant Valkyrie (ironically enough, this is also her middle name!) with an outsized personality to match, whose horrible fate was to try unsuccessfully to kill herself when her beloved Nazi Germany made war on her homeland. So Jessica Mitford, Girl Rebel, looks for a way out: Her cousin Esmond, a professional rebel with a published book and a troublemaking newspaper founded and run before he was 16, fit the bill.

Like J.K. Rowling, I worship Jessica "Decca" Mitford.

Witty and smart -- but maybe a little lacking in heart. Jessica had a very large family, and her sisters were all just as notorious and exciting as she was in different ways. The real answer begins at home -- but Jessica, while ridiculing her parents' snobbery, is strangely silent about the underlying coldness and lack of love in her childhood home.

'You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.' Decca is a seriously underrated Mitford sister, and very sadly not my namesake. Its strange to consider that Decca neglects to even mention her time in Nazi Munich, which is a mystery and a real shame; that would have been a very interesting account, coming from a Communist, or as she teasingly dubbed herself, the Red Sheep of the family.

I have to say, if more biographies were as fun and enjoyable as Jessica Mitford's I would read nothing but. well she married the Duke of Devonshire and lives at Chatsworth , writes books about chickens and is the last remaining Mitford daughter. From her earliest days with family to her later life withEsmond, Jessica captures the love she had for these people while at the same time the exasperation of her situation . Given the extreme fame of her family and the career Jessica later established as a journalist in her own right, if a muckracker at that, it's beyond enjoyable to see where it all began. But what you also see is that with Esmond, this is a love story. But at least in this book, we can see the love still remains.

Y de cómo aún dentro de ese mundo tan cerrado, ella llega a desarrollar su propia personalidad, y a tener sus ideas, totalmente opuestas a las de sus padres y hermanos.

As others have noted there's something a bit flat here and I was surprisingly a bit disappointed.

The stories are a little different however, because of course Jessica was quite a bit younger than Nancy, Pam, Tom and Diana, and so the stories involving her, Unity and Debo are not quite the ones we know and which were told so well by Nancy.

Esmond was seriously worried that Britain would join Hitler to attack the Soviet Union.

  • English

  • Nonfiction

  • Rating: 4.12
  • Pages: 284
  • Publish Date: September 30th 2004 by NYRB Classics
  • Isbn10: 1590171101
  • Isbn13: 9781590171103