BlogOwner (“BO“) is making her way through Nancy Mitford’s 8 novels, first of which is Highland Fling, which BO has just finished reading.
Published in 1931, Highland Fling is her (Nancy Mitford’s) debut novel, and unfortunately it does somewhat feel that way – a first “attempt” of sorts. Normally she (BO) abandons a book if it doesn’t engage her within the first 100 pages (her 100 Page Rule) (because, sorry, but decisions on sunk cost are not being made here). However, this book turned out to be educational in some ways, so she carried along.
BO had been reading up about the Mitford sisters for a while, and wanted to dig into some of Nancy Mitford’s beloved works like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. However, it was quite hard to find well priced paperbacks in the Indian market. Nancy is not one of those ubiquitous English authors here, so well, one had to look. Finally, she stumbled into an omnibus publication!!! All 8 Nancy Mitford novels, published in one paperback volume, for under Rs. 1000? Yes, please.
As expected, of course, the volume is quite unwieldy, and does not make for a good travel companion (which is a shame, because these books are perfect for entertaining, holiday reading). Also, the type is pretty small, with very tight line spacing. One can safely assume 1 page of the omnibus would translate into 1.8 – 2 pages of a modern paperback. However, all of this was expected from a volume which comes with eight, EIGHT novels in one value-for-money volume.
Having laid her paws on this little (only metaphorically) volume, BO decided to read them in order of publication.
First up, was Highland Fling. Most of the humour felt a little forced, and too cutting – you will understand when you read it. The story doesn’t quite go anywhere (which is usually not a problem for BO when the narrative is strong). You keep waiting for something to happen, but nothing much really does.
The characters are strong and well developed, and it gives a little glimpse into the world of the aristocratic society of pre-Second-World-War Britain. There are interesting observations to be made, and BO found it rather educational (as she is not a British lady from that era, or any era). Fans of Downton Abbey will appreciate it, although of course, that was set in the Edwardian era, it is interesting to note the difference in sentiments between generations.
There were some “darker” themes explored with regard to war, particularly the views of the two generations in the book towards it. BO has been reading some other books set in that time frame (Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery – which had to do with the First World War), so it was particularly engaging for her. It’s also quite fascinating in context of the events of the past couple of months here in India – where much discussion about war has taken place.
Coming back to Highland Fling, BO wouldn’t really recommend it to others, EXCEPT if they exhibit a particular interest in that period in Britain, or they are a completist.
Here’s hoping Christmas Pudding (the next in line) is better 🙂
p.s.: The cover of this omnibus is lovely.