To be read April 2017Another Mitford Sister today, this time “the other right-wing one”, Diana, who married Oswald Mosley, he of the Blackshirts, and hung out with Hitler and other senior Nazis alongside her sister Unity (“the REALLY right-wing one”, perhaps). It’s always interesting to read about the same lives from different perspectives, something you only usually get reading about the Bloomsbury set and other large groups of people.

Diana Mosley – “A Life of Contrasts”

(04 October 2016, the Cook Book Shop, St. Just, Cornwall)

This unprepossessing-looking autobiography, published in the 1970s with quite a dull cover, was actually in the main a lively and interesting read. She certainly had the writing skills of her sisters and I find it so interesting, as I said in the introduction, to read the words of several of the sisters, getting different angles on both their lives and those of their sisters and parents.

Here, of course, we gain insight into her and her husband Oswald Mosley’s (her first husband is dismissed quite summarily: she fell in love with Mosley, decided to throw in her lot with him and got divorced; her first husband remarried and lived happily ever after) imprisonment during the Second World War, including the way they had to live and how their family pulled together to look after their children. There is a stark contrast between contemporary reporting of their conditions and the harsh environment they had to endure, even when under house arrest.

There is at this point and at the end of the book (which does feel like filler) quite a lot of political and historical chunks. There’s not too much (but a little) that is actively distasteful, by which I mean very unpleasant social ideas, but most of it is political and economic history and just a bit dull. She also doesn’t mention some of the sisters much – Debo only in the context of their life in Ireland, Pam as a reliable sort everyone wants in a crisis, and Decca a remote presence (and furthest from her politically, of course).

But there is a lot about Unity, naturally, as they were the closest in politics and age, and Nancy, as they both lived in France. There are also pleasing details about Gerard Brenan, who crops up in SO many books I read about the period, and Lytton Strachey and Carrington. So a good read overall.

This book fills in the year 1977 in my relaxed and fairly natural Century of Reading. “White Ladies”, by Francis Brett Young, which I am still currently reading, fills in another year, and that will make it up to 66/100! My largest remaining gaps are in the 1940s, 1960s and 1980s – do pop over and have a look and recommend me a book that will fill in one of my years if you have a moment!