In spring 1956, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire - youngest of the six legendary Mitford sisters - invited the writer and war hero Patrick Leigh Fermor to visit Lismore Castle, the Devonshires' house in Ireland. This halcyon visit sparked off a deep friendship and a lifelong exchange of sporadic but highly entertaining letters.
There can rarely have been such contrasting styles: Debo, unashamed philistine and self-professed illiterate (though suspected by her friends of being a secret reader), darts from subject to subject while Paddy, polyglot, widely read prose virtuoso, replies in the fluent, polished manner that has earned him recognition as one of the finest writers in the English language.
Prose notwithstanding, the two friends have much in common: a huge enjoyment of life, youthful high spirits, warmth, generosity and lack of malice. There are glimpses of President Kennedy's inauguration, weekends at Sandringham, stag hunting in France, filming with Errol Flynn in French Equatorial Africa and, above all, of life at Chatsworth, the great house that Debo spent much of her life restoring, and of Paddy in the house that he and his wife Joan designed and built on the southernmost peninsula of Greece.
'Packed with gossip, creaky jokes and gadding about...all but the most inverted of snobs will enjoy a cheery time in these pages' -- The Independent, Christopher Hirst 'Highly engaging exchanges of mutual joie de vivre' -- The Times 'Altogether delicious ... Charlotte Mosley's editing of these letters is erudite, mischievous and unflawed' -- Sunday Telegraph 'Part of the charm of this impeccably edited correspondence is a sense of the lacrimae rerum, of a vanished world of high romance' -- Daily Telegraph 'This marvellous correspondence celebrates two of the most important things in the world, courage and friendship' -- Spectator 'Sparkling' -- The Times 'An impressive array of personalities and dramas' -- Good Book Guide 'Captivating collection ... Deborah's life [is] brilliantly encapsulated --and parodied- in her more succinct letters ... their exchanges achieve the goal of all good correspondents: to bring out the best in one another' -- Anglo Hellenic Review 'Last autumn's literary non-fiction hit' -- Bookseller 'Highly entertaining ... as full of fizz and conviviality as a glass of champagne' -- Metro 'The effect is intensely touching' -- The London Review of Books 'Age never withers the mischievous, bantering pleasure of these letters' -- Observer Review 'Bursting with wit and conviviality' -- The Observer 'Highly engaging exchanges of mutual joie de vivre' -- The Times 'Highly entertaining...as full of fizz and conviviality as a glass of champagne' -- Metro 'Last autumn's literary non-fiction hit' -- Bookseller 'The effect is intensely touching,' -- The London Review of Books 'Age never withers the mischievous, bantering pleasure of these letters,' -- Observer Review 20090726 'Celebrates everything positive about life and friendship' -- Independent on Sunday 20090726 'A feast for reading... An enchanting book' -- Irish Examiner 20090726
Charlotte Mosley lives in Paris and has worked as a publisher and journalist. She is the editor of Love from Nancy, The Letters of Nancy Mitford, The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh and The Mitfords, Letters Between Six Sisters.