Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Article excerpt

Title: Diana Mosley Author: Jan Dalley Data: Knopf, 318 pages, $27

Review by Simon Barker-Benfield

The subtitle of this book tells the story: "A biography of the glamorous Mitford sister who became Hitler's friend and married the leader of Britain's Fascists."

Diana's patient and long-suffering mother, Muv, alias TPOF or The Poor Old Female, alias Sydney Mitford, alias Lady Redesdale, kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings.

Daughter Nancy Mitford mined the eccentricities of her family to write The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, still funny, still in print after 50-plus years.

Deborah married into one of the grandest of grand English aristo families to become the Duchess of Devonshire and chatelaine of a late 17th century country palace, Chatsworth.

Daughter Unity became a Hitler groupie, drove around the English countryside "with swastika pennants flying from her car," writes Dalley. Later Unity shot herself.

Daughter Jessica turned leftward, espoused Communism as a teenager, immigrated to the United States, where she irritated, among others, the funeral home industry with her book The American Way of Death. Her autobiography, Daughters and Rebels, is still funny, and still in print, after 40 years.

And then there was Diana, as strong-willed as the rest of the Mitfords, who managed to be friends with both Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill.

Diana first married into one of the richest families in England and Ireland, the Guinness family -- as in beer -- had two children with the patient and thoroughly nice Bryan, who bored her. She divorced after falling in love with Sir Oswald Mosley, who successfully juggled multiple mistresses while attempting to build a fascist party in 1930s Britain.

They later married, with Hitler as a witness, and spent most of World War II in prison in England. …

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