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Nancy Mitford modelled the characters in her best-known novels on her own unconventional (and at the time of writing, notorious) family. We are introduced to the Radletts through the eyes of their cousin, Fanny ('the Bolter's girl'), on one of her frequent visits to their country estate: Uncle Matthew the blustering patriarch, owner of that bloodied entrenching tool above the fireplace, who hunts his children with bloodhounds; vague Aunt Sadie, and six children recklessly eager to grow up.
The Pursuit of Love is the story of Linda, the most beautiful and wayward of the Radlett daughters, who falls first for a stuffy Tory politician, then an ardent Communist (whom she follows to the Spanish Civil War), and finally a very wicked and irresistibly charming French duke.
Love in a Cold Climate, again related by Fanny, focuses on Polly Hampton, long groomed for the perfect marriage by her fearsome mother, Lady Montdore, but secretly determined to pursue her own course.