Posted 20 hours ago

Darling: A razor-sharp, gloriously funny retelling of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love

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But there’s no getting round it: being separated from your lover because they must open a new hotel in New Zealand is fundamentally less sexy than them leaving to fight the Nazis as a French resistance hero. Brilliantly done, faithful but imaginative, tremendously romantic and very funny' Nina Stibbe, author of Reasons to be Cheerful*****************Marooned in a sprawling farmhouse in Norfolk, teenage Linda Radlett feels herself destined for greater things. Somehow, India Knight's writing manages to be hilarious, melancholy, insightful, and romantic all at the same time.

As well as Mitford, there is something of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s much-adored Cazalet Chronicles in here, plus elements of Eva Rice’s The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets and Barbara Trapido’s Brother of the More Famous Jack. In fact, nobody in my book group really rated it - mostly, the reaction was: "Why bother writing it at all? Husband number one, Tony Kroesig, has been perfectly refashioned as the son of a prominent right-winger.Darling belongs in the pantheon of books that feel a bit like opening up a doll’s house to show the impeccable precision of the world within. I think we can all relate to the struggles that Linda faces, as well as a loathe for the Christians and Tonys of the world. I haven’t read the original upon which it’s based - The Pursuit of Love - but will hunt down a copy to compare. My favourite passage is the list of Things That Uncle Matthew Doesn't Like - absolute comedy genius.

Linda’s life story was rehashed to the smallest details, while the ‘I’, Franny, happily faded into the background, playing a secondhand character to Linda.

Armed with a key and new knowledge about his parents' past, Nik sets out to unlock the secrets that his mother has been holding onto his whole life. If we told someone that this was our life,” says the central character in Darling, “they wouldn’t believe us. No one likes people fiddling with their favourites, especially a classic as beloved as Mitford’s tale of interwar aristos the Radletts. Of course, she is beautiful, with an innate sense of style; every girl wants to be her, every guy wants to be with her. Last year, purists recoiled from Emily Mortimer’s (in my mind terrific) BBC adaptation of the author’s 1945 novel The Pursuit of Love.

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