The Blessing

The Blessing With characteristically amusing malice Mitford blends a comedy of manners with culture shock as Grace Allingham a naive English rose impulsively marries Charles Edouard de Valhubert a French noble

With characteristically amusing malice, Mitford blends a comedy of manners with culture shock as Grace Allingham, a naive English rose, impulsively marries Charles Edouard de Valhubert, a French nobleman with all his class s charm and decadence Both are duped, however, by their son Sigismund the Blessing of the title a juvenile Machiavelli who mixes Gallic cunning wWith characteristically amusing malice, Mitford blends a comedy of manners with culture shock as Grace Allingham, a naive English rose, impulsively marries Charles Edouard de Valhubert, a French nobleman with all his class s charm and decadence Both are duped, however, by their son Sigismund the Blessing of the title a juvenile Machiavelli who mixes Gallic cunning with Saxon thoroughness to become one of Mitford s most memorable characters.

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The Blessing

  1. Nancy Mitford, CBE 28 November 1904, London 30 June 1973, Versailles , styled The Hon Nancy Mitford before her marriage and The Hon Mrs Peter Rodd thereafter, was an English novelist and biographer, one of the Bright Young People on the London social scene in the inter war years She was born at 1 Graham Street now Graham Place in Belgravia, London, the eldest daughter of Lord Redesdale and was brought up at Asthall Manor in Oxfordshire She was the eldest of the six controversial Mitford sisters.She is best remembered for her series of novels about upper class life in England and France, particularly the four published after 1945 but she also wrote four well received, well researched popular biographies of Louis XIV, Madame de Pompadour, Voltaire, and Frederick the Great She was one of the noted Mitford sisters and the first to publicise the extraordinary family life of her very English and very eccentric family, giving rise to a Mitford industry which continues.Her Published Works Novels Highland Fling 1931 Christmas Pudding 1932 Wigs on the Green 1935 Pigeon Pie 1940 The Pursuit of Love 1945 Love in a Cold Climate 1949 The Blessing 1951 Don t Tell Alfred 1960 Non Fiction Madame de Pompadour 1954 Voltaire in Love 1957 The preface to Saint Simon at Versailles by Lucy Norton 1958 The Water Beetle 1962 The Sun King 1966 Frederick the Great 1970 A Talent to Annoy Essays, Journalism and Reviews 1929 1968 edited by Charlotte Mosley 1986 Collections of Letters Love from Nancy The Letters of Nancy Mitford edited by Charlotte Mosley 1993 The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh edited by Charlotte Mosley 1996 The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street Letters between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952 73 edited by John Saumarez Smith 2004 The Mitfords Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley 2007 Works as Editor The Ladies of Alderley Letters 1841 1850 1938 The Stanleys of Alderley Their letters 1851 1865 1939 Mitford edited these two volumes of letters, written by the family of her great grandparents, Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley and his wife Henrietta Maria, daughter of the 13th Viscount Dillon Noblesse Oblige 1956

454 Reply to “The Blessing”

  1. I m on Team Sigi that s really all I want to say about this wonderful novel If this is Mitford s weakest work of fiction, her other titles must be amazing Enjoy this book for it s wit charm Don t read any reviews other than this one don t read the blurbs My copy did have very minor spoilers I would have preferred to approach without any preconceptions

  2. The Marquis de Valhubert cannot see a pretty woman without immediately wanting to sleep with her This polished dilettante has a pleasing English wife who sees the French through rose colored glasses their snobbishness seems like a tremendous joke When mischievous son, little Sigi, contrives to keep his parents apart, Mitford erupts with her funniest observations about sex and other social distractions among the French, Brits and Americans.Gossip among the Paris set They left the luncheon togethe [...]

  3. There is nothing like a Nancy Mitford novel for a combination of wit, charm and elegant writing The Blessing was new to me, and although it doesn t surpassThe Pursuit of Love in my affections, it is a comedy of manners with some truly memorable characters the cunning Sigi and the redoubtable Nanny being my favourites Set mostly in post war France Paris and Provence the contrast between French manners and s and English ones provides much of the humour and plot in the book Mitford spent much of he [...]

  4. The subplot of The Blessing revolves, once again, around enthusiastic Americans in this case Hector Dexter, who is representing the Marshall Plan in Europe and has failed, so far, to gain entrance to any of the exclusive social sets As Grace explains, They go back to the middle of America and tell the people there, who hate foreigners anyway, that the French are undependable, and so nasty that it would be better to cut the Aid and concentrate on Italy, where they are undependable, too, but so n [...]

  5. Nancy Mitford was the eldest of the famous Mitford sisters while her sisters Diana, Unity, and Jessica are famous or infamous for their politics Jessica was a Communist, while the other two were Nazi sympathizers and friends of Hitler , Nancy was celebrated as a leading member of the Bright Young Things and a brilliant writer She wrote eight novels, several biographies, and various essays, all of which are a joy to read, but The Blessing is perhaps my favorite of her books.Grace Allingham is an [...]

  6. Grace Allingham, a young and unassuming Englishwoman from an affluent background, makes the acquaintance of Charles Edouard de Valhubert, a French Air Force officer, during the early years of the Second World War Charming, suave, and utterly self assured, he sweeps Grace off her feet, they quickly marry and have a short honeymoon Then Charles Edouard goes back to the war Grace leaves London and settles in the countryside She finds herself with child and later gives birth to a boy, who is named S [...]

  7. On one level, this is a frivolous, entertaining story about a couple, their marital difficulties, and the little heathen they call their son the blessing of the title On a deeper level, Mitford skillfully tells of culture clash, love, and family dysfunction, using her own situation and clear eyed self awareness to poignant effect The humor is subtle than that of Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, some has faded due to time, but The Blessing is still laugh out loud funny in parts and gi [...]

  8. Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Mitford March Mach Deux March 2014 Grace Allingham is engaged to a nice English boy He didn t push for the marriage to happen before the war and therefore when Charles Edouard de Valhubert comes into her life and sweeps her off her feet, it s really Hughie s own fault for not locking that down Charles Edouard is French and exciting He loves art and beauty and Grace Grace, like her father, is taken by all things French and is [...]

  9. I like Nancy Mitford She writes well I wanted something light, and this was that, definitely For whatever reason, I have hardly any sense of humour when it comes to marital infidelity, and since a lot of this book was people trying to convince Grace that she was just being uptight about it, well, it didn t have me laughing The way Sigismund, the blessing manipulates his parents was funny, though I probably should have just re read Cold Comfort Farm, since that was the vibe I was going for anyway [...]

  10. Witty and wicked and just a tad dated in the sense of some extreme political incorrectness , The Blessing is Mitford s take on the cultural chasm between France and England after WWII English flower Grace marries Charles Edouard, French aristocrat, and raises their son Sigi alone in the English countryside until he comes home after the war in seven years They move to France, along with Sigi s unhappy Nanny, whose first experience with French cuisine leaves her horrified Funny looking bread, here [...]

  11. She knew, or thought she knew, that Frenchwomen were hideously ugly, but with an ugliness redeemed by great vivacity and perfect taste in dress So all in all she was unprepared for the scene that met her eyes on enteringThis is Mitford s unapologetic memoir of her own romance with a charming but decidedly not monogamist Frenchman, and really, with the idea of France itself What works here is the casual seduction of a really independent Englishwoman by the whole of French culture maybe something [...]

  12. HmmAs WW2 is beginning, Grace receives a visit from Charles Edouard, an aristocratic French friend of her fianc , Hugh Within a month, poor Hugh has been dumped, Charles Edouard and Grace have married and C E has gone off to war Finding herself pregnant, Grace goes off to live in her father s country house, and waits seven long years for C E to return When he does, he promptly whisks Grace and the child, Sigi, off to France, where he divides his time between his wife and his mistresses Eventuall [...]

  13. Marvelous for Mitford s exquisite devotion to France and French society, but the characters begin to grate, ever so slightly Whereas her frivolous society girls in The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate come across as charming despite their ridiculousness, I spent most of this novel wanting to shake everyone, but especially Grace and Charles Edouard Let us not even speak of their offspring, the precocious plot moppet extraordinaire Sigi, though it is fair to say that Mitford gave him an [...]

  14. Amusing , Entertaining and thoroughly engaging despite the very, very silly characters Mitford s characters flow in and out of her various novels and a minor character in a book I just completed Don t Tell Alfred is the principal character in this book I enjoy that aspect of her writing the feeling that you have arrived in a strange place and just happened upon someone you know so her books have an automatic appeal to me.This story centers on the cultural clashes resulting from the marriage of a [...]

  15. The Blessing is not as tart as most of Evelyn Waugh s work, or as light as P.G Wodehouse s, but it has the flavor of both It s witty and worldly without being coarse Nancy Mitford plays on many of the familiar themes of the time 1951 , including Communism, the HUAC, pre EU stereotypes about England and France and the USA Apparently it was a Book of the Month Club choice in 1951 aside it s startling to think that American popular taste ran then to a novel liberally sprinkled with references to 18 [...]

  16. This is cute British French manners It is definitely Waughian, and funny That odd post WWII era that doesn t get written about a lot Grace, the main char reminds me of Princess Di had she not been a princess sweet, lovable, horsey British good looks, utter lack of education country bumpkin, cuckolded.

  17. I d give this one 4 and a half stars if the option was available Nancy Mitford had out her sharpest knife for this one Not only are the English her target, but she carves up the French and Americans with delicious wit and malice The Blessing himself should serve as a contraceptive device, or at least a warning Very funny and perceptive.

  18. A comical novel about a naive English woman who marries a charming French man only to find that her new husband is an insatiable flirt whose liaisons with other women are as essential for his livelihood as breathing According to the French man the two were never validly married, as he is nominally Catholic and they were married in a registry He intends to wait and see whether they should be married in a Church Grace, a nominal Protestant, eventually leaves him after finding him in bed with anoth [...]

  19. Well I hoped I wouldn t be disappointed and I certainly wasn t In places I was laughing out loud I love these books that give an insight into the frivolous world of the upper class in the first half of the 20th century I also love that Nancy Mitford can happily take the mick out of that lifestyle but also take it a step further for a laugh, for example when describing the two mothers of newborn babies who had their children laid out to sleep on a bed full of coats at a party, only to find that t [...]

  20. It does feel good to read another Nancy Mitford Her style is easily spotted in a crowd, I find Her wit is sharp, to the point, her characters unforgettable and The Blessing is no exception Such eccentricity in one book, it s amazing how she does it without making it too clich I found the essentialist statements to be well below her usual standards the constant French English comparisons are frankly strange though it has a context at least but on the other hand in one scene one of her best charac [...]

  21. I absolutely loved this The writing flows from page to brain seamlessly The story is bright and funny There is some history there too, of which I was unaware, the continued influence of the Catholic Church in post war France, fear of Freemasons , how the conservative upper class cling on to the old ways which seems to illuminate aspects of recent French history PS Grace is not a modern woman

  22. Grace thought to herself how different all this was going to look in a few weeks, when it had become familiar Houses are entirely different when you know them well, she thought, and on first acquaintance even different from their real selves, deceptive about their real character than human beings As with human beings, you can have an impression, that is all Her impression of Bellandargues was entirely favourable, one of hot, sleepy, beautiful magnitude She longed to be on everyday terms with i [...]

  23. Englishwoman Grace Allingham impulsively marries a French nobleman, Charles Edouard de Valhubert during WWII and has his child while he is off serving in the French Air Force Their son, Sigismund Sigi doesn t meet his father until he is almost 7 years old Once they are settled in France, Sigi hears about friends whose parents are divorced who are reaping the benefits of two competing parents plus step parents, so when Grace leaves Charles Edouard after discovering his afternoon meetings were wit [...]

  24. I came away from this novel wondering about Nancy Mitford s attitude towards children The title is ironic, the child it refers to is anything but a blessing His name is Sigismond and he is manipulative and scheming, and focused entirely on what he perceives to be in his own interest His affection for others, including his parents, is entirely based on what they are willing to lavish on him He is revealed as a child who will betray anyone to get what he wants, and he appears to have no redeeming [...]

  25. I picked this one from a metafilter list of happy books It was a nice bit of dated fluff about wealthy folk in France and England just after WWII Grace had impetuously married a charming Frenchman just before the war and 7 years later finally moves in with him and their son All are wondering how she will react to his womanizing ways I was surprised at the frank discussions about adultery and homosexuality that popped up here and there in mostly non judgmental terms oh so decadent Sometimes it dr [...]

  26. In Sigi I think we have one of the funniest and most irritating child characters ever The Blessing is not in my opinion as brilliant as In the Pursuit of Love, and Love in a cold Climate, but it is certainly hugely entertaining, written with Nancy Mitfords characteristic sharp wit There are a good deal of English French jokes, and a good deal of gossipy snobbishness which is really quite delightful, and very Mitford Nancy Mitfords observations of various sections of English and French society ar [...]

  27. I picked this up on a lark for vacation reading and found it absolutely charming Nancy Mitford is supposed to have a razor social wit, but because I think there might be a lot of young Nancy Mitford in lovely, innocent and thoughtless young Grace Allingham her satire is softened to a wry smile Grace marries the dashing and very French Charles Edouard, also on a lark, and finds herself utterly unprepared for the ways and means of a French marriage How she comes to terms with it without losing her [...]

  28. Bubbly as champagne, airy as meringue, pure catnip for Anglophiles and Francophiles alike, this little diamond is very much in the vein of Mitford s much beloved The Pursuit of Love only without the gravitas he said facetiously Sweet, na ve Grace Allingham falls for a wicked Frenchman and, as all hell breaks loose, the novel overflows with the expat author s affection for her adopted France Full of wonderful characters, witty dialogue, pointed satire and l amour, l amour, l amour, this is one of [...]

  29. Mitford s got me thinking a great deal about the influence of societal expectations on relationships, satisfaction and boundaries This is filled with heartbreaking ambiguity, people simply behaving as they are, or must, and not a little hilarity Albertine s eloquence and Hector Dexter s tirades onwell, everything except the awesomeness that is the US, naturally were particular highlights for this expat who, like Grace, loves her adopted country even if it doesn t always feel like home.

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