Currently reading…

7 May

Nancy Mitford’s ‘A Talent to Annoy’ – Essays, Journalism & Reviews 1929 – 1971

a talent to annoy coverPerhaps I’ve become far more impatient recently but reading essays, rather than novels, seems far more appealing.  Maybe it’s some sort of nostalgic longing for old school days although to be fair, the essays then were far more boring.  And it’s safe to say that Mitford’s essays are definitely not boring.

I came across this collection of essays and various writings purely by chance as I was browsing a bookshop this bank holiday weekend.  I had heard of Nancy Mitford but wasn’t entirely sure who she was before.  It turns out she was a novelist and biographer and one of the Bright Young People on the London social scene in the interwar period.  Basically, she was a bohemian socialite in 1920s London – you know, all Flappers, experimentation, drink and drugs – and she belonged to an elite set which included the magnificent Evelyn Waugh.  She would often write for esteemed high-society publications such as Vogue and The Lady and her articles were often satirical pieces on society life, such as a woman’s ‘role’ at a shooting party.

I have only just started reading this collection of Mitford’s essays and other writings but I am already hooked.  Perhaps it is because in some part, I long to have lived in the roaring twenties but apart from that, I genuinely enjoy Mitford’s acerbic wit which shines through in her writing.  Some of her observations on society have literally made me laugh out loud (which always scares people on public transport) and I am captivated by her intelligence and independence.

It’s also interesting to see how the term socialite has adapted and evolved over the years.   Of course, Mitford was predominantly a writer and she should be regarded first and foremost as such… but it’s clear that they definitely don’t make socialites like they used to!

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