Xmas Presents - parents coming up trumps

the book:

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

published 1945    chapter 3

Christmas Day was spent, as usual at Alconleigh, between alternate bursts of sunshine and showers…

I must admit that my wicked parents turned up trumps at Christmas, and my presents from them were always the envy of the entire household. This year my mother, who was in Paris, sent a gilded bird-cage full of stuffed humming-birds which, when wound up, twittered and hopped about and drank at a fountain. She also sent a fur hat and a gold and topaz bracelet,

whose glamour was enhanced by the fact that Aunt Sadie considered them unsuitable for a child, and said so. My father sent a pony and cart, a very smart and beautiful little outfit, which had arrived some days before, and been secreted by Josh in the stables…

Linda cried with envy. "It is unfair," she kept saying, "that you should have wicked parents and not me." We persuaded Josh to take us for a drive after luncheon…Linda wore my hat and drove the pony. We got back late for the Tree - the house was already full of tenants and their children; Uncle Matthew, who was struggling into his Father Christmas clothes, roared at us so violently that Linda had to go and cry upstairs, and was not there to collect her own present from him.
Uncle Matthew had taken some trouble to get her a longed-for dormouse and was greatly put out by this; he roared at everybody in turn, and ground his dentures. There was a legend in the family that he had already ground away four pairs in his rages.

observations: This couldn’t be more different from most of our lives, and yet the sunshine and showers of Christmas transcend boundaries: the incident where present-giving goes wrong and everyone is upset; the envy of children for the one with the wicked parents. And the significant detail: why is Linda wearing Fanny’s fur hat and driving the pony and cart? Linda is highly entertaining, and in the book much-loved and a general favourite, but she is one of those heroines whose charms are more apparent to the characters around her than to the reader. Spoilt and selfish, she seems to us.

Links up with: Christmas entries all this week and last. Nancy Mitford has featured on the blog many times before - click on the label below. Nancy’s sister Diana wrote the description of the Duchess of Windsor in the
Abdication entry earlier this month.

The young woman is a picture of Lady Duveen by Halmi, the Christmas tree is by Lovis Corinth. The gold bracelet is in the British Museum, and the pony and cart came from Flickr.


  1. I love the gold bracelet. Hope you had a good Christmas Moira.

  2. Moira, this one's on my tbr pile already - having read Wait For Me by the youngest? of the Mitford sisters. Hope the New Year is treating you well.

  3. Lovely article. I found you via Carole's Chatter. Lovely blog.


  4. Great post...thanks for sharing.

    Stopping by from Carole's January Books I Loved. I am in that list as # 46.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  5. This may be my favourite post yet.


Post a Comment