The Sisters

Mary S. Lovell is by no means the first author to attempt a biography of the Mitfords. Individually and as a family, they have generated fascination, irritation, perhaps even fear and loathing for the better part of a century. Interest has traditionally fallen upon the Mitford "girls," the bevy of women who created a unique space for themselves in the cultural life of twentieth century England. Yet The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family is a worthy addition to the already considerable stock of Mitfordiana, largely because it tries to weave together a multi-generational story, going beyond individuals to explore the relationships--among the sisters, and among the sisters and their parents--that produced such controversial and complex lives. It is an ambitious project, exemplary in conception, if not quite flawless in execution. The seams occasionally show too much as Lovell moves in and out of different characters, locations, and periods. Nevertheless, this thick and packed biography genuinely lives up to its sub-title. It really does have the feel of a saga, one that presents a remarkable family's exploits, which while not always heroic, are invariably engaging.

Even though the introduction clearly states that this will not be a political book, it can hardly help being that to some degree, since the connection the sisters Unity and Diana had with the Nazi regime is what lies at the heart of the Mitfords' general notoriety. Apart from Pam,...

(The entire section is 502 words.)