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.
'I was enthralled and charmed by this group biography of all six Mitford sisters, which tells the intertwined stories of their stylish scandalous lives in a fresh and admirably concise way - and with a striking contemporary sensibility too' Bookseller, Editor's Choice. '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. 'Thompson has written this book with generosity and delicacy. It is amusing, poignant and perceptive as a portrait of the sisters' long lives and changing times, and of their own apparent inability to change with them' Book Oxygen. '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. 'A wonderful telling of an extraordinary family living in extraordinary times' Yorkshire Gazette Herald. 'This is a careful, realistic assessment of their virtues, follies and charm' Daily Mail.
Laura Thompson is the award-winning author of Life in a Cold Climate: A Biography of Nancy Mitford; Agatha Christie: An English Mystery (2007) and A Different Class of Murder: the Story of Lord Lucan (2014).