The Mitford Affair

A Novel

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Pub Date 17 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 22 Jan 2023
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark

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From New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict comes an explosive novel of history's most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her family?

Between the World Wars, the six Mitford sisters — each more beautiful, brilliant, and eccentric than the next — dominate the English political, literary, and social scenes. Though they've weathered scandals before, the family falls into disarray when Diana divorces her wealthy husband to marry a fascist leader and Unity follows her sister's lead all the way to Munich, inciting rumors that she's become Hitler's mistress.

As the Nazis rise in power, novelist Nancy Mitford grows suspicious of her sisters' constant visits to Germany and the high-ranking fascist company they keep. When she overhears alarming conversations and uncovers disquieting documents, Nancy must make excruciating choices as Great Britain goes to war with Germany.

Probing the torrid political climate in the lead-up to World War II and the ways that seemingly sensible people can be sucked into radical action, The Mitford Affair follows Nancy's valiant efforts to stop the Nazis from taking over Great Britain, and the complicated choices she must make between the personal and the political.

Also By Marie Benedict:

The Other Einstein

Carnegie's Maid

The Only Woman in the Room

Lady Clementine

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Her Hidden Genius

From New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict comes an explosive novel of history's most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her family?

Between the World Wars...

Advance Praise

"Timely and suspenseful, The Mitford Affair is an immersive, spellbinding novel that illuminates the terrible allure fascism holds for some, as well as the courage and moral clarity that enable others to resist even when beloved friends and family succumb." ― Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Resistance Women

"An in-depth exploration of the complications and bonds of sisterhood. Benedict perfectly captures the anxiety and uncertainty of England's interwar years and serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of enigmatic autocrats. Fast-paced and eye-opening." ― Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

"In her latest book The Mitford Affair, Benedict plunges readers into a world of glamorous, charismatic young British debutantes and then turns that shiny world on its head. I was blown away--learning this true story of the Mitford sisters and the roles they played for and against the Nazis was nothing short of astonishing. Benedict delivers with all that readers have come to love and expect from her: nuance, elan, and the most delicious storytelling." ― Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

"Benedict unflinchingly peels away the giddy facade, revealing the tragedy beneath the one-liners in this close look at the Mitfords' darkest hour: the family's embrace of fascism and flirtation with treason in the face of World War II." ― Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author

"Captures the mood of a certain element of upper-class England in the years leading up to World War II. Appearances by historical figures like Winston Churchill and Evelyn Waugh round out the story. Fans of World War II historical fiction will be fascinated." ― Library Journal

"Marie Benedict brings to life a dark chapter of World War II. Through grit and perseverance, three sisters – each more dazzling and intelligent than the last – work their way into the highest echelons of power. What happens when one no longer recognizes the siblings she was raised with? When caring turns to callousness? When love turns to rivalry? When the only choice is willful blindness or whistleblowing? One woman must decide whether to betray her sister or her country in this meticulously researched page-turner. Masterful." ― Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library

"Timely and suspenseful, The Mitford Affair is an immersive, spellbinding novel that illuminates the terrible allure fascism holds for some, as well as the courage and moral clarity that enable...

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ISBN 9781728229362
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Average rating from 105 members

Featured Reviews

Six Mitford sisters...and Marie Benedict makes spicy, provocative use of all of them--constructing a fascinating novel threaded with themes of loyalty and betrayal. A marvelous read--perhaps Benedict's best.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks and to Netgalley for the opportunity and pleasure of an early read.

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A totally home run from Benedict - one of the best writers of historical fiction we have now. This is a marvelous story written with all the nuance and detail I've come to expect from this author. This book should be every bookclub's pick this winter. Just wonderful!!

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I’ll admit - when I see a new book released by Marie Benedict, it’s an auto-read for me. There’s something inviting about her writing and I always learn something new about a person or situation in history. Part of why I enjoy historical fiction is learning more. I’d heard of the Mitford sisters before reading this book. I knew about Nancy and Deborah, though what I knew about Nancy was “author” and Deborah was “Mrs. Chatsworth House” (which if you ever get a chance to visit while in Derbyshire UK, please do, even if it’s just to have tea). In other words, knew the name … knew very little about the women (for instance, I didn’t know there was a brother). So, “The Mitford Affair” - wow, what a family. Between the jealousies, the power trips, the connections, and the differing political leanings - this book was a bit of a ride. This book follows three of the Mitford sisters - Nancy, Diana, and Unity. The chapters are presented in this order, which really helps keeping track of who is narrating. What I found interesting about this book is how so many themes are woven into this book - loyalty (what this means on so many levels), family (ditto), sisterhood, and political beliefs. This is a bit of a slow moving book - but after the first few chapters, it picks up speed (I considered the first few chapters setting the table). The one nit I had, though I understand it, was that a bit of information was repeated between the sisters in the earlier chapters as some of those occur on the same day or discuss the same event, though from another viewpoint. Do read the Author’s Interview for more information on why Ms. Benedict wrote this book in the way she did - and do look at her sources if you want more information on the Mitfords in general. Well researched and this book reminded me why Ms. Benedict’s books are some I rather enjoy reading.

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Six sisters and a brother...a large family with family dynamics...each sibling book was sent to me by Netgalley for review. Thanks to the publisher for the electronic copy. Although I have read several books set in this time period, this one was somewhat unique in that it gives the reader an insight into sibling rivalry, not just romance. This is a talented author. Even though the story does move slowly, at times, it comes to a resounding ending, and that is important. Enjoy with a cup of steaming herbal tea...

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The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict is a wonderful historical fiction that gives us a small glimpse into the complicated, fascinating, and polarizing Mitford sisters.

Ms. Benedict is one of my favorite authors, so I was very keen to see how she would present the Mitford family.

The six Mitford sisters: Nancy, Diana, Unity, Jessica, Deborah, and Pamela are infamous and, at the same time, elusive. I have read quite a bit about them from a nonfiction standpoint, but I have never read any fictional accounts. This book mainly highlights Nancy, Diana, and Unity. We are able to travel to those few pivotal years right before WWII where those smoldering embers are just beginning to flame.

Ms. Benedict does an excellent job portraying these complex, jarring, complicated, and intriguing women…what parts they played in history…how they were similar…but yet also so different…and she gives a more personal account of these women that lived, amd made their mark, on the world at the cusp of the life-changing times that take place during the second World War.

I was engaged, entertained, and learned a few things along the way.

I really enjoyed it.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and Sourcebooks Landmark for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 1/17/23.

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Another great book by Marie Benedict, I know I'm always in for a good time when I find a new book by her. Ms. Benedict has a great writing style that works so well for historical novels, she has a great way of making the history aspect come alive. The Mitford Affair was really well done and I enjoyed getting to go through this book. It was a great WW2 novel and I enjoyed getting to know the Mitford sisters. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Benedict.

"They begin to tug her toward the steps bordering the stage, and she strains against them. “What about my sisters? We cannot leave them behind,” she insists, glancing behind her to see an empty row of seats. She scans the floor in a panic to see if they got trapped underfoot by the crush of people fleeing the hall. But Unity and Nancy are nowhere to be seen. What on earth has happened to them? Quite against herself, Diana feels like screaming."

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This is a story that seeps glamour and intrigue. From the very first page I was 100% invested and intrigued. I found something about each sister and wanted to turn around and learn more

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The Milford family rocked England with their Nazi sympathies and involvement. This novel explains how a family that had everything could have become involved with Fascism in the years before WWII. The author is skilled at painting portraits of tge sisters during this turbulent era. I really enjoyed it., as an Anglophile and lover of well-written historical fiction.

I think it’s a great jumping off point for book groups and attempts to understand how these glorious young women became “radicalized” Nazi sympathizers.

Thank you Netgalley. For this ARC.

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Marie Benedict is an author that creates a world that you enter and never want to leave. She always writes about women who would otherwise be left to history. The Personal Librarian and Mystery of Mrs. Christie are both top notch books - always well researched and well written
The Mitford Affair takes places in London pre - World War II and looks at the 6 sisters in the well-to-do Mitford family.
Two of the sisters, Diana and Unity marry members of the fascist, rising Nazi party. Diana divorces her husband to marry the new man. It is Unity's first marriage. They are disowned by three of the sisters and Nancy, a writer, is the only one who stays in touch.
Nancy is frightened for them both and becomes embroiled in radical politics as Diana and Unity become spies for the Nazi regime. There are even rumors that Unity is Hitler's mistress -- that is how entrenched in the party that she is.
Nancy works hard to stop the rising tide and does her part to end the war.
You cannot go wrong with any of Benedict's work. This book is no exception

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As a Marie Benedict fan who loved "The Personal Librarian", I was enthralled with "the Mitford Affair". This World War Two drama is moving, emotional, and rich in detail, this is a must-read for any historical fiction lover.

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3.5 stars.
Author, Marie Benedict, brings the stories about real women in history to life. I've read all her books and I love her writing style. I learn so much about history from reading her material. If only history in high school had been this interesting!

This novel takes you into the lives of the Mitford family, from 1932 to 1941 in England and Germany, during the buildup to WWII. The Mitfords were an aristocratic British family with six daughters, who were all debutantes, and one son. Alternating chapters in the book are told through the eyes of each of the three oldest sisters. As the years escalate towards war, the daughters become active in the political movements of fascism and communism and its burgeoning presence in England. Ultimately, they each must make critical choices based on their political beliefs or their loyalties to family and country.

Using hindsight, and the author's notes at the end of the book, it is very interesting to see how young people could be influenced by the lies and doctrines of fascism and communism. This was a lesson about how politics, idealism, and idolatry can grow like a cancer and separate a family as well as a nation.

My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for giving me the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book. Publication date: January 17, 2023.

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I received a free e-arc of this book through Netgalley.
I am a big fan of Marie Benedict and her books are always good. However, I was really torn on the subject matter in this book. Reading about the real life family of 6 Mitford sisters and 1 brother hit me pretty close to home with my 6 sisters. It made my stomach turn to think about the question of putting family or country first. The story centers primarily on 3 of the sisters: Diana, Unity, and Nancy. They are all citizens of Great Britain, but Diana and Unity get swept up into a great love of fascism and Hitler himself. Nancy is horrified and torn about what to do. Her cousin is married to Winston Churchill as well so there are some political connections in Great Britain as well as Germany. It was quite a good read that kept me wondering what Nancy would do. As politics continues to divide families today, it was a good reminder that this is nothing new.

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The Mitford Affair reimagines the lives of the Mitford sisters who dominated the English political and social scenes between the World Wars. The family starts struggling to keep up the good image when one marries a fascist leader and another is rumored to be Hitler’s mistress.

Due to the worldwide economic crisis, the family loses the money that would give the six sisters some cushion. Now, they have to find their own way in the world.

The story is driven mainly by three sisters. Nancy is a novelist who tries to mend the bridge with Diana and Unity who fall out of grace with the family. Diana makes a scandal with her divorce to a Guinness tycoon, whom she leaves for a leader of the British Union of Fascists. Diana, with her sister Unity, shares the same vision of joining the BUF. They see it as the bright future for Britain with so many unemployed people. Diana is ambitious in her dreams of building up the BUF to becoming the prominent governing political body in Great Britain; and uniting Great Britain with Germany in this common political cause.

Unity is an ardent Nazi and obsessed with Hitler. She moves to Munich to study the German language and its culture. After cozying up to Hitler, she receives a flat that is procured by the Nazis from a Jewish family who most likely is sent to a concentration camp.

There is a believable presentation of how people are lured into believing Hitler’s ideology. And the decision Unity makes after Hitler invades Poland begs a question - was she fooled as many others?

Decca is a drastic contrast. She chooses to serve in the press corps in the Spanish Civil War. She stands with the people who are being oppressed and violently attacked by the fascists only because they have communist inclinations.

The story of the Mitford sisters weaves two clashing ideologies of fascism and communism, which further create fractions within the family. Not only that the personal interests and fears drive some of their decisions. There is one who is not afraid to point to the hypocrisy within the family, and stands for what she believes is right, but the others strongly believe in their good cause, too.
It is a fascinating and sad example of family who falls into the dismay because of politics. It is an example that is relevant to present time.

As with previous books by Marie Benedict, this story is character-driven and told with crisp prose. It is intriguing and engaging. It involves a view of two sides and a subject that brings a conversation to the table.

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The Mitford Affair, based upon the real Mitford family of England opens ones eyes to how vulnerable England was to being ruled by Hitler. With many of the English aristocracy embracing his political views and marveling at how he managed to pull his country back from the brink of ruin after World War I,England's future under Chamberlain's guidance was in real trouble. Two of the Mitford sisters, Diana and Unity become obsessed with the politics of Nazi Germany. Diana for how it could benefit her current husband's political career, and Unity for finally being accepted as a golden child when she was barely tolerated by her parents and siblings. Nancy, the only sibling who questions her sister's allegiance to Hitler and who is a writer, tries to warn both her family and the English people through her novels about the future designs on England by Hitler. Thoroughly researched, each sister is afforded her own chapters in which she explains her actions, motives and ultimate goals. One can't help but pity Unity and her childish infatuation with Hitler, wonder at the audacity of Diana in her climb up the political social ladder and urge Nancy into finally taking action. A behind the scenes look at how the war affected families with members on both sides of the conflict. A slice of English history that few know about which casts the historical events leading up to WWII in a much more personal light.

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Marie Benedict feeds my love of history, my thrill at glamour, and my need for suspense--once again! Each of the Mitford sisters is unique and independent while remaining dependent on each other or are the rivals for attention, affection, and adoration? What lengths will they go to attain their due? What secrets will they hide or share to maintain their status? What country and family will they betray to rule? Delve into the time between the wars to learn how they navigated countries, men, family, and lives to attain their goals.

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This book was everything I wanted it to be. It had me turned pages without even realizing. It was so good!

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