Love In a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
One of Nancy Mitford’s most beloved novels, Love in a Cold Climate is a sparkling romantic comedy that vividly evokes the lost glamour of aristocratic life in England between the wars.
Polly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father served as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs. The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother’s dreams and her own disinheritance. When a callow potential heir curries favour with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways
Told by Fanny, the childhood friend of Polly, who comes back into the family’s sphere after their return from India. The first part of the book is setting up the story around the Montdores, Polly’s first season in London, and all the parties and guests that come in and out of their lives. It finishes with Fanny married, Polly causing a disgrace with a highly unsuitable attachment and disinheritance.
Part 2 comes with Fanny getting used to being the wife of a near penniless Don in Oxford and how life isnt how she was led to think it was. Cedric, who the Montdore’s estate is now entailed to, arrives from Nova Scotia via Paris, and is certainly not what anyone expected him to be. However, he soon distracts Lady Montdore and all of her set, turning her into a different being – in looks if not personality.
Set in between the wars, some of the characters are outrageous – in their attitudes or behaviour or both. This is stiff upper lip country, where behaviour is tolerated rather than confronted and ostracised. Mitford manages to get their story out, with something that passes as happiness in the end, with a level of humour that can make you laugh out loud in parts. Some of the attitudes towards Cedric and the Lecherous Lecturer are a little close to the bone, but she somehow gets away with it.