Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Coming out

Well hopefully that got your attention! No, I refer to coming out in the debutante sense. The other half and I spent all of Saturday wandering around luscious Chatsworth House, Derbys. I was in my element as two of my favourite movie-book combos (Pride and Prejudice, The Dutchess) were filmed there. The gardens are just gorgeous and wonderful to pad around. Keira Knightley's wedding dress from the Dutchess is on display in the house. That girl is skinny enough, so imagine coming face to face with her corset - it's exactly what you don't want to see after tucking into a jumbo ice cream cone. I lie - the detailing and beading on the dress are just amazing.

Chatsworth have a niche collection of books written by authors with some connection to the place, some of which you won't find in mainstream booksellers. By now I was positively hyperventitlating, having exhausted the shelves of waterstone's and desperately looking for some new reads. The otherhalf just sighed and collapsed on the lawn. I'd threatened that there would be trouble if he disturbed me whilst flipping through all the books.

My prize from the day was The Last Curtsey By Fiona McGregor. I love looking at lost customs and lifestyles and it's set in my favourite era, the 1950s. Fiona Mc Gregor, one of the last debutantes to curtsey to the Queen, takes us through the rise and the fall of the debutante era. She has her eyes firmly open, and is aware of the jokes and fun pointed at the debs, but she also brings in just the right amount of nostalgia. Looking at the photos in the book makes me wish I'd been a deb - the archetypal pushy deb mum, doing her utmost to ensure a good marriage, would have been handy in my early twenties to save making some dubious man-choices!

The Chatsworth bookshop also introduced me to the Mitford Sisters. Now, these ladies seem a whole load of fun! Reading about the well behaved debs in The Last Curtsey had me craving some scandal and rebellion - and the Mitford sisters deliver.

I've kicked off with reading The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lovell (Paperback - 18 Jul 2002) - a factual account. The girls have been described as appaling, outrageous..and completely entertaining, which just sounds fabulous. Perhaps these ladies are the true pioneers of chicklit? Nancy turned to fiction-writing, so I'll be enjoying Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford (Paperback - 25 Nov 1999) and Don't tell Alfred.

I'll let you all know how I get on. And I hope you all have wireless, you should all be enjoying the weather before it turns tomorrow!


  1. I've never been to Chatsworth, but it sounds like a great day out - not least because of that bookshop.

  2. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same and still retain the ability to function...One should, for example, see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise." ---F. Scott Fitzgerald