“It is fate that our paths have crossed.”Marie Benedict, The Mitford Affair
Title: The Mitford Affair
Author: Marie Benedict
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 304 (Kindle)
Publish Date: January 17th, 2023
My Rating: ★★★¾
Read: 11/22/2022 – 11/28/2022
3.75 (rounded up to 4) – I always get excited when I see a new Marie Benedict book. She always picks such interesting (and perhaps lesser-known) women to write about.
Set between World Wars, the book follows three of the six Mitford sisters: Unity, Diana, and Nancy. A prominent family at the time, they were well known for their support of the Communist, Fascist, and Nazi parties. If these sound like uncomfortable characters to read about, they are. And yet, Marie Benedict manages to humanize them (although that’s not to say they’re easy to love).
I applaud the research and the writing that went into this book. I don’t think I could have stomached writing Unity’s storyline in particular. And yet, the discomfort I felt is what I enjoyed most while reading. It was challenging, unsettling, and yet impartial. It was an intimate look at this family who may or may not have known what was to come in the next war.
The story itself didn’t engage me as much as the other books I’ve read by the author. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with not finding the characters likable or their politics and outlooks agreeable. While I can’t say it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed, I did appreciate reading something that brought me out of my comfort zone in this way. Unlikableness aside, these characters made for a thought-provoking read.
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for providing a free digital ARC to read and review.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The challenging content. I don’t see this book as a glorification of people who had associations with such corrupt people rather than it is a tool to try and understand where they might have been coming from.
- The obvious research that when into the characters.
- The differences in the sisters’ personalities.
- The cover!
What I didn’t like:
- Though this does go with what I liked about the challenging content… my goodness it was difficult reading a book where Hitler is personified and viewed in a slightly more positive light (for lack of a better word — the author’s note makes mention of how difficult this was).
- The multiple POVs didn’t flow as well as I would have liked.
Books such as The Mitford Affair are a small way to aid in not letting history repeat itself, but they’re also a lesson in taking an unbiased look at the people behind their politics. Does that mean you will agree simply because you’ve gotten to know someone? No, but there is a level of understanding to be achieved. As easy as it is for us to say now how wrong and evil Hitler was, our knowledge of his atrocities surpass what was known by many at the time. This novel captures this perfectly. Kudos to Marie Benedict!