The Pursuit of Love

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Nancy Mitford
and the Pursuit of Love

‘Morbid’ accurately describes Nancy Mitford’s ‘The Pursuit of Love’. It’s rather funny throughout, and is brutally honest in the way only a child could pull off, but, if you look past the humor, the story itself is very sad and sordid. After all, the plotline is about the failures that is the characters love lives. But everything is overshadowed with a darkish humor, regardless of the serious nature of the topic. Ironically enough, one of the best examples is on the first few pages of the story, about the ‘drama’ that is Linda.

“There was drama when Linda, aged ten, attempted suicide in order to rejoin an old smelly Border Terrier which Uncle Mathew had had put down… She was then “spoken to” by Aunt Sadie, clipped over the ear by Uncle Mathew, put to bed for two days and given a Labrador puppy, which soon took the place of the old Border in her affections.” (pg. 6)

The story is made all the more ironic by the parallels that can be drawn between the different characters in the novel and the people and situations associated to Mitford in real life. For instance, the group of children in the story, early on in the first few chapters, form a group called the ‘Hons’, relating to the title of a book written by her sister Jessica. Other similarities can be drawn, like the group of six children in the photograph described on the first page, obviously referring to Mitford’s sisters.

The character Uncle Mathew in ‘The Pursuit of Love’ was inspired by Nancy Mitford’s own father, the second Baron Resedale. This is interesting, as one of the first things we learn about Uncle Matt is that he “had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of the dugout.” (pg. 5) This is noteworthy because Mitford’s actual father was very different than Uncle Mathew; her father was a proud supporter of the British Union of Fascists and the Nazi regime, whereas Uncle Mathew took pride in the fact that he, as they...
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