Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

published 1949    chapter 6

[Lady Montdore is giving advice to debutante Fanny, who has said no-one will ever marry her]

‘Nonsense. And don’t you go marrying just anybody, for love,’ she said. ‘Remember that love cannot last, it never does, but if you marry all this it’s for your life. One day, don’t forget, you’ll be middle-aged and think what that must be like for a woman who can’t have, say, a pair of diamond earrings. A woman of my age needs diamonds near her face, to give a sparkle. Then at meal times, sitting with the unimportant people for ever and ever. And no motor. Not a very nice prospect, you know. Of course,’ she added as an afterthought, ‘I was lucky, I had love as well as all this, but it doesn’t often happen, and when the moment comes for you to choose, just remember what I say…. Goodbye then Fanny – let’s see a lot of you now we’re back.’

observations: Lady Montdore, one of the great monstrous creations of literature – see earlier entry - needs to be dramatized again (there were TV versions of the books in 1980 and 2000) and Clothes in Books has a most brilliant idea: Rupert Everett should play her, following on from his role as the headmistress of St Trinian’s. We think this would be perfect casting, and we freely hand the idea over to production companies. In fact we really think we should start a campaign.

Lady M will show she means what she says when Fanny eventually does get engaged, for love – she offers to call up the editor of The Times to get the announcement removed from the paper. She also is rude about the engagement ring (the one that is NOT the size of a pigeon’s egg or a trouser button – see important and detailed discussion here).

The jokes in this book, and Pursuit of Love, are very much character-based. So for example, Aunt Sadie is very much uninterested in health, while Davey is obsessed with it. When Lady Patricia dies, Sadie says:
‘I always liked her so much, though of course, all that about being delicate was tiresome.’

‘Well, now you can see for yourself that she was delicate,’ said Davey triumphantly. ‘She’s dead. It killed her.’

Links on the blog: both books have featured extensively on the blog: click on the labels below. Bejewelled earrings are important in this story. Debutantes in London in the 1930s here.

The picture is of the Duchess of Berry by Robert Lefevre, from about 1820


  1. Oh, what fun, Moira! What a character Lady M is! She's one of those people I'm very glad I've never met in person...


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