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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"Wait for Me!"

There is a bittersweet and precious perspective that comes from being by far the youngest sibling in an extraordinary family. In the case of the Mitfords, that place belongs to Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and she has done it justice in her memoirs "Wait for Me!".

At 91, the Duchess is today the last surviving member of "all those Mitford brains" (back-handed by the "brittle" Wallis Simpson in referring once to Deborah and her sisters). "Wait for Me!" is a captivating credit to the Duchess' share of "those brains" and the many extraordinary people who have been part of her remarkable life. Ticklish nicknames pepper the pages: "Muv", "Farve", "Decca", "Weenie", "Kick"... are among those fondly remembered by the Duchess, who herself was known to her family as "Debo", "Stubbo", and "Stublow" since the days when her chubby little legs could not keep up with her much older siblings.

Another devotion described by the Duchess is Chatsworth, the Devonshire's ancestral home in Derbyshire. "'See Chatsworth before you die'"-- is the stand-out praise for the property from the Sun newspaper quoted by the Duchess near the end of "Wait for Me."

Well then, add it to the list!

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