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Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love is one of the funniest, sharpest vels about love and growing up ever written. 'Obsessed with sex!' said Jassy, 'there's body so obsessed as you, Linda. Why if I so much as look at a picture you say I'm a pygmalionist.' In the end we got more information out of a book called Ducks and Duck Breeding . 'Ducks can only copulate,' said Linda, after studying this for a while, 'in running water. Good luck to them.' Oh, the tedium of waiting to grow up! Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and sex, Linda and her sisters and cousin Fanny are on the lookout for the perfect lover. But finding Mr Right is much harder than any of the sisters had thought. Linda must suffer marriage first to a stuffy Tory MP and then to a handsome and humourless communist, before finding real love in war-torn Paris... Utter, utter bliss . ( Daily Mail ). Nancy Mitford was the eldest of the infamous Mitford sisters, kwn for her membership in 'The Bright Young Things' clique of the 1920s and an intimate of Evelyn Waugh; she produced witty, satirical vels with a cast of characters taken directly from the aristocratic social scene of which she was a part. Her vels, Wigs on the Green , Love in a Cold Climate , The Blessing and Don't Tell Alfred , are available in single paperback editions from Penguin or as part of The Penguin Complete Novels of Nancy Mitford which also includes Highland Fling , Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie . This edition of The Pursuit of Love is introduced by velist Zoe Heller.
Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was born in London, the eldest child of the second Baron Redesdale. Her childhood in a large remote country house with her five sisters and one brother is recounted in the early chapters of The Pursuit of Love (1945), which according to the author, is largely autobiographical. Apart from being taught to ride and speak French, Nancy Mitford always claimed she never received a proper education. She started writing before her marriage in 1932 in order 'to relieve the boredom of the intervals between the recreations established by the social conventions of her world' and had written four novels, including Wigs on the Green (1935), before the success of The Pursuit of Love in 1945. After the war she moved to Paris where she lived for the rest of her life. She followed The Pursuit of Love with Love in a Cold Climate (1949), The Blessing (1951) and Don't Tell Alfred (1960). She also wrote four works of biography: Madame de Pompadour, first published to great acclaim in 1954, Voltaire in Love, The Sun King and Frederick the Great. As well as being a novelist and a biographer she also translated Madame de Lafayette's classic novel, La Princesse de Cleves, into English, and edited Noblesse Oblige, a collection of essays concerned with the behaviour of the English aristocracy and the idea of 'U' and 'non-U'. Nancy Mitford was awarded the CBE in 1972. Zoe Heller is the author of three novels: Everything You Know; Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003; and The Believers.