Love in a Cold Climate

The sequel to Nancy Mitford’s gem, The Pursuit of Love, we pick up Fanny’s story detailing life between the wars in upper-class England. This time the focus is on Polly, a more distant cousin to Fanny than Linda was in the previous book. Polly is the only child (and egad! a female, thus not eligible as an heir) of fabulously wealthy parents who own the estate of Hampton nearby to Fanny’s uncle’s Alconleigh. Polly’s mother, Lady Montdore, is nearly frantic trying to find someone to interest Polly as a suitor, but Polly turns a blind eye to everyone until her sudden declaration of love for her uncle Boy when her aunt dies. We get a bigger glimpse inside Fanny’s life as the wife of an Oxford don, still peppered with gossip from her “stepfather” Davey, and delicious visits from her younger Alconleigh cousins. Fanny confesses to “aching,” which she defines as “aching with boredom, a malaise from which girls, before national service came to their rescue, were apt to suffer considerably.” Act two brings Cedric onto the stage, the distant cousin who will inherit the large fortune and estate when Lord Montdore kicks the bucket. Turns out Cedric is a pansy, but he loves gadding about with Lady M and making her try a myriad of facial treatments, etc. Polly ends up back in England, bursting with child, only to deliver a stillborn which her mother doesn’t bemoan, saying that she hears children are too expensive nowadays anyway. Cedric looks to be the victor in the battle, his eye on Boy as the prize as he dashes petals off a daisy, “He love me, he loves me not…”