In The Six (St Martin’s, $29.99), a comprehensive account of the famous Mitford sisters, British journalist, writer, and biographer Laura Thompson revives a world both gone utterly and forever, and strikingly, disturbingly familiar. These crazy, dramatic, improbable lives play out against a background of mass rallies, simplistic, violent ideologies, rampant, resurgent nationalism and, finally, war. As the Mitfords rub shoulders with Churchill and Hitler, Mosley and Kennedy, their personal beliefs, actions, and rivalries, along with their devastating consequences, mirror the fractures in the wider world. Celebrities in a time even more ruthlessly judgmental than our own, the sisters were protected by breathtaking privilege and entitlement; they were symbols of inequality, and yet were often broke; lived close to power and history, and were powerless to change it; they were so clever, and yet so mad; so beautiful and yet so, so ugly. The Novelist, the “Normal” One, the Fascist, the Nazi, the Communist, and the Duchess, otherwise known as Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah, along with their parents and their brother, Tom, are forever linked as the “mad, mad Mitfords.” After all the myth-making, the novels and memoirs, the spin and the damage control, the fights and the reconciliations, Thompson’s book is a reminder that truth is still sometimes stranger, and more interesting, than fiction.
The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters - Laura Thompson