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The Six

The Lives of the Mitford Sisters

by Laura Thompson

The Six by Laura Thompson X
The Six by Laura Thompson
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  • Published Sep 2016
    480 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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  • Nona F.
    Fascinatng family portrait
    Laura Thompson’s The Six was a compelling read, a fascinating portrait of a family interacting in the most extreme and radically different ways to the major political and economic movements of the first half of the 20th century. I had read several of Nancy Mitford’s novels some years ago, and was generally familiar with the varying paths each sibling followed; I couldn’t put down Thompson’s well-researched book as it fleshed out the individual lives of the Mitfords, parents and siblings. If the story of the Mitford daughters was presented as a novel, readers would say the characters and plot lines were not believable. I feel that linking the book to Downton Abbey is unfair because the ever-shifting loyalties, rivalries, deceits and betrayals among the sisters—as well as their so different political and cultural interests-- are so much more complex than fiction. Thompson at one point says they were the Kardashian sisters of their era, and I find that a more telling comparison. These were women with little or no family income, who were trained to do nothing except become a beautiful patrician ornament on some man’s mantelpiece, and yet five of them became financially secure, internationally respected writers or managers of major country estates. As for the book’s organization, I found the first chapter on the who/what/whys of what constitutes “Mitfordian” to be invaluable, and the chronology of the subsequent chapters presented no problem for me. Two thumbs enthusiastically up!
  • Bev C (PA)
    The Six
    The Six was not a simple read, but an attempt to properly biographize the Mitford family seems like a formidable task.

    I need to add that this is my first Mitford biography; therefore I'm not able to make comparisons with other chronicles.

    Laura Thompson found it necessary to present and investigate the Mitford family tree. I did appreciate seeing the actual diagram and referred back to it several times in my reading. I had to take notes and sometimes felt a yoyo effect as my reading time frame wound forward, then backward.
    I did regain my sense of time but I frequently had to take a reading break, to reset my perspective. The cast of characters went on and on and the use of their own
    private names and vocabulary left me once again with a list. Pamela is woman, Unity is Bobo or Boud, Jessica is Decca. You get my drift.

    In an attempt to introduce a complex family narrative, I'd say:

    Pamela, the rural Mitford, seemingly not politically involved, although she married a Fascist sympathizer.

    Nancy, a best selling author

    Jessica, the Communist

    Diana, a Fascist politician's wife

    Unity, obsessed with Hitler, shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany

    Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire.

    Their lives were unorthodox, reckless, radical, experimental.

    Their sisterly relationships often came through to me as restless and so chameleon that I couldn't remember who felt what toward whom.

    The front cover of my advance reading copy (ARC) depicts stylish sisters. Your copy will have an additional 16 pages of black and white photographs.
    Laura Thompson refers to the Mitfords as "a variant strain of the Downton Abbey Syndrome." She also notes "The Mitfords were remarkably good at classless
    displays of class." There are humorous elements to be found.

    In reading The Six, you'll get more than enough details on Mitford lives and the times. Relationships and events are explained in detail.

    Reviewing the note section was definitely helpful in my reading experience.
    My ARC had 367 pages that I read, but the amount of historical information was almost overwhelming to me.

    Do give this Mitford saga a chance. What was almost overwhelming to me might be just right for you.

    3.5 ?
  • Patricia W. (Richmond, VA)
    The Saga of the Mitford Sisters
    Having been intrigued by the Mitford sisters for a long time, and having already read a great deal about them, I was anxious to read this new book. It didn't contain a great deal of new information. I didn't care for the organization of the book plus a great deal of emphasis was given to Nancy whose books were referenced quite a lot (perhaps too much). However, Anglophiles who know little about the family will likely enjoy this read.
  • Linda S. (Arlington Heights, IL)
    The Googled Book
    I decided to read this book because I knew hardly anything about the Mitford sisters. It looked intriguing. I must admit, however, I found this book that should have been a scandalous, fun, adventure about real women ultimately boring, difficult to follow, and poorly organized. There was too much information presented at once, making each individual's story more of a chore to follow rather than something to be enjoyed. Though I am certain Thompson's knowledge about the Mitford sisters is extensive, the presentation of this book made her expertise unclear and unsatisfactory.
  • Chris (CA)
    Intriguing sisters
    This book was my introduction to the Mitford sisters. While I definitely enjoyed the history of the time period and location, the story jumped around too much. It would have been easier for me to follow in a more chronological presentation. There were so many names, nicknames, and families to sort out. The family tree was a big help, and I referred to it many times while reading. The author has clearly done exhaustive research on this family. There is a lot of information, society names, and places which sometimes makes the story difficult to follow. That said, I did learn a lot about this fascinating family. Maybe this would be a better book for readers who already know all about these intriguing sisters.
  • Deanna W. (Port Jefferson, NY)
    Not Much New Here
    Perhaps I was expecting some new information or insights from this book. I remembered reading the Mary Lovell group biography, THE SISTERS. I would only recommend this book to someone who knows little or nothing about the Mitford family and the fascinating period between the wars in Britain.
  • Charlene
    Mittford Sisters
    Reading about six sisters was very intriguing. I do like historical biographies. I did find the factual information and background of the Mittford family interesting and was a good opening for Laura Thompson's novel.
    The rest of the book, however, Could have been written from the individual sisters points of view with some dialog thrown in. The Six is a very dry read. I would suggest more editing and infusing life into the sisters story.
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