Sunday, June 24, 2012

Daughters and Rebels

1960, Avon edition from unknown year
Jessica Mitford
Daughters and Rebels
Original price 75 cents, purchase price $1.00
Very worn paperback with front cover detached

Yes, yet another biography, although this is more about the author than the colorful father.  It goes only up to 1939, with Mitford's first husband dying in a footnote!  Jessica has the same breezy tone about horrible events as big sister Nancy has.  And yet, in the sequel autobiography, which I've read but don't own, she omits a son who died at a young age because it was too painful to write about him.  Here, we never learn the name of her first baby, who died of measles.

It's fun to compare this mostly true book to Nancy's fiction, particularly since Jessica told Nancy that the latter had no imagination.  For instance, the original (British) title of this autobiography was Hons and Rebels, and Jessica explains here how "Hon" came from the hens that she and little sister Debo (Deborah) raised in order to sell the eggs to their mother.  In Nancy's novels, the older sisters are Hons as well, and "Hon" seems to come from "Honorable," since Fa/Farve was a baron.

While Jessica's life in the 1920s and 1930s was certainly interesting (if not always to her), her life afterwards got even more colorful.  After this book, she became interested in the funeral industry and wrote a 1963 book about it, which I own.  The cover of this book says, "The audacious lady who wrote The American Way of Death tells the marvelous story of her life."  So this edition obviously came out three years or more after the first edition.

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