Love in a Cold Climate (1949)

by Nancy Mitford

A sequel to Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate has the same narrator and many of the same characters. Instead of focusing on the Radlett family, however, the latter novel features the upper-class Hamptons (Lord and Lady Montdore), whose only child, Polly, defies her parents and shocks everyone with her choice of husband.

Polly, possessing great beauty as well as wealth, presumably could have any husband she wants. She perplexes her mother, the overbearing Sonia, by appearing to not want anyone. That is, until her father’s sister dies and Polly proposes marriage to the widower. Polly reveals that she has been in love with “Boy” Dougdale since she was 14, despite his reputation for lechery and past as her mother’s lover.

Mitford, unfortunately, treats Boy’s pedophilia lightly, but in another regard she was open-minded for 1949. Cedric, a distant relative of Lord Montdore who will inherit the estate now that Polly is disinherited, is openly gay and charms everyone he meets. He accomplishes the impossible, making over Sonia.

Narrator Fanny, a distant cousin of Polly’s, remains a level-headed, witty observer of the exploits of her more privileged relatives.


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