A Talent to Annoy

A Talent to Annoy : Essays, Articles and Reviews, 1929-68

  • Hardback
By (author) Nancy Mitford , Volume editor Charlotte Mosley

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A collection of Nancy Mitford's journalism and essays from 1929 to 1968.

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  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 134.62 x 218.44 x 22.86mm | 204.12g
  • 01 Sep 1986
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • Hamish Hamilton Ltd
  • London
  • 0241119162
  • 9780241119167

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Review text

The supersnob Brit for the ages in some sparkling journalism, most of which has already appeared in other books long out of print. The poor title, a play on Noel Coward's self-praising "talent to amuse," does Mitford an injustice. At her best, she was champagne-funny and infectious in her enthusiasms. Her pop bios of royalty were stunningly inaccurate, yet irresistibly zestful. Her articles on France, here reprinted from the London Times, make Janet Flanner's far more celebrated accounts seem positively dull. Her acid wit on analyzing upper- and non-upper-class behavior remains very amusing, as are comments like "The shrieks of eight tiny children who play in my courtyard reached such a pitch that I began to long for the days when germ warfare will be within the reach of us all." Unfortunately, Mitford's bitchily anti-Semitic jokes exchanged with friends like Evelyn Waugh are not in any way addressed by the editor; this is an important point, as Mitford's anti-Semitism was very real, differing only in degree from the open adoration of Hitler and the Nazis displayed by her sisters Unity and Diana. This major flaw apart, the pieces themselves retain their sparkle. A fine appreciation of E.F. Benson's Lucia novels is joined by a diary of a Paris "Revolution" as stuffy as anything Marie Antoinette might have imagined. Still, at her best, which she is in some of these essays, Mitford is amusing indeed. (Kirkus Reviews)

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