Book 4: Hons and Rebels

by Jessica Mitford

As you know, Jessica Mitford’s book arrived the first week of April and held great promise. After reading David Giffel’s book, I had started Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error, and Mo asked me to work on Greta Christina’s, Coming Out Atheist. (The plan was for us to read sections and comment back and forth through e-mail which we did get started on. . .). It took all month to finish Ravitch and Christina. Finally, on Wednesday of this past week, I was able to pick up Mitford. My goal was to finish her book before my new one arrived, and I made it!!

What a magnificent story it is. Her vocabulary is easily accessible only sending me to the dictionary for French, when she had multiple sentences, and one German translation. Baize is the only English word and Jim probably knows that one. She uses it to describe a door between the nursery and the the bedrooms. And, then there was the character reference to Struwwelpeter which every German, French and English child would know, but not us Americans.

As one of seven children in her aristocratic family, she knows from the beginning that she will have to escape their closed-in, political conservatism. When she was nine, she actually opened up a bank account which she called her “Runaway Fund,” and she kept the letter acknowledging the receipt of her first deposit. It’s delightful. Amazingly, although she and two of her sisters were on such opposite sides of the political spectrum, she still shows great love for all of her family members. But once she split from England, she never really resumed family connections except to rebuild her relationship with her mother and sisters primarily through letters.

It’s a exacting picture of the build-up to WWII and made all the more interesting by family ties. Her first husband, a total rebel, was Winston Churchill’s nephew. Churchill was probably the only member of the family who was anti-Hitler before he became PM.

Now here’s what confuses me. I was working at the Kenmore Branch Library when her book was released. As a lover of biographies, I can only assume that we did not order Hons and Rebels¬†for our collection, or I would have read it then. How much I missed is sad. To have known her then as this book allows me to know her now, I would have followed her through the Civil Rights era and up to the time of her death. What a loss on my part.

This month’s is another mystery and I’m ready to proceed. :-)