I want to visit: The Mayfair Bookshop

A Novel of Nancy Mitford and the Pursuit of Happiness

by Eliza Knight

#TheMayfairBookshop #NetGalley

The Mitford family seem to be enjoying a renaissance on TV and in books. There was a recent miniseries with Lily James and, not long ago, I read both The Bookseller’s Secret and the latest entry in Jessica Fellows’ historical mystery series that features Nancy and her siblings.

For anyone who may not know, the Mitford daughters were fascinating and so different from each other. Diana left her husband, a Guinness heir, to be with the Fascist, Oswald Moseley. Unity was enamored of Hitler. Nancy was an author and there were also, Jessica and Deborah.

Happily I did not suffer from Mitford fatigue and I thoroughly enjoyed Eliza Knight’s novel. As is popular now, there are two timelines. In the present, Lucy is a book curator from Washington DC who is spending time in England. She is fascinated with the Heywood Hill bookshop where Nancy Mitford once worked. Lucy also has a connection to someone Nancy almost married.

Lucy is a huge Mitford fan. She possesses some Mitford letters and her mother, who is no longer alive, had a valuable edition of one of Nancy’s novels.

While in England, Lucy visits the Mitford home. This is beautifully described and made me long to see the real location. Lucy’s quest is to discern who the Iris in a dedication in one of Nancy’s novels is.

In the historical timeline, Hitler is on the horizon. As noted above, some of the sisters are not pro democracy. Nancy does attend a rally at Diana’s urging although she is clearly not a “Black Shirt.”

Readers get to know Nancy well. They vicariously see her pre-marriage lifestyle in the smart set. Readers watch Nancy in love with the ensuing disappointment, marriage and compromise. They also witness Nancy writing her novels, working at the bookstore and trying to support herself (husband Peter does not do well in the work world).

I very much enjoyed my time at The Mayfair Bookshop. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy historical novels and/or women’s fiction.

Many thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow/Custom House for this title. All opinions are my own.

Pub date: 12 April 2022

Author: joycesmysteryandfictionbookreviews

I love to read, recommend books and open the world of reading to others. I tutor to ensure that the next generation of readers will know the joys of a good book because their reading skills have improved. I am an avid reader, especially of mysteries and fiction. I believe that two of the world's greatest inventions were the public library and eyeglasses!

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