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Summary

They were known as the Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah. Born into country-house privilege in the early years of the 20th century, they became prominent as 'bright young things' in the high society of interwar London.

Then, as the shadows crept over 1930s Europe, the stark - and very public - differences in their outlooks came to symbolize the political polarities of a dangerous decade.

©2015 Laura Thompson (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"I was enthralled and charmed by this group biography of all six Mitford sisters, which tells the intertwined stories of their stylish scandalous lives." ( The Bookseller)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good, but a little confusing

I wanted to know more about the Mitford sisters, at term I had heard before, but as a Dane I knew next to nothing. I got to know a lot all right, the book did an excellent job.

But it took a little while to get there because the author just picks up and goes assuming that you know a lot of things beforehand - including all the sisters names and the differences between them. I didn't even know that much, so I was thoroughly confused and annoyed in the beginning.

Then I simply skipped the introduction, which is over an hour long, and then, by paying good attention, I was able to figure out who was who and why they were important.

The author keeps jumping back and forth in time and introduces characters, that will appear decades later. But if you're just as green as me, skip the first chapter and hang in there, you'll get the hang of it. And once you get there, it's a really good book.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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This Book Does Add Something New

I have read a lot of books about the Mitfords and a lot of what they each individually wrote, mainly Nancy, whose biographies are really excellent. So I was unsure if this book would add much or anything to my knowledge but it did. It does come at things from a different perspective and explores the mind-set of the family - beyond the six girls too - as well as the facts/dates/events. And there are nuggets of new information that I didn't have before. But anyway it was interesting to get a new 'voice' on a family with whom I have been obsessed for many years.

I was impressed with the research and the comparative notes which the writer included - for example, contradictions in letters from or about different Mitfords. Actually I think the most interesting 'girls' are Pamela and Deborah who seem to be have been the most truthful!

The narrative is fine. I really like the reader's natural voice; but some of the accents and characters she does are a bit annoying - arguably, biographical or factual books don't need that much 'acting' but I did get used to it and in the end I could tell which Mitford she was being, usually. She does men quite well.

I wish Audible would also offer us the excellent Mitford Girls by MS Lovell (a bit frothier than this book but very good) and Letters Between Six Sisters ed C Mosley, both of which I have read and which I would love to have have read to me!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Compelling and distasteful often in equal measure

Where does Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Great narration with numerous 'voices'. Difficult book to like, wholeheartedly as the individuals were so diverse. But it's an astonishing account and I feel the richer for learning more about these Seriously strange sisters.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters?

Too many to single out one.

Have you listened to any of Maggie Mash’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me angry, sad, disillusioned and ultimately left with a sense of wonder as to how a single family could have so many disparate and diverse talents. Dysfunctional doesn't even scratch the surface!

Any additional comments?

At times, the narrative flits back and forth; initially irritating, but as the story unfolded, I found this added to the sense of difference between each of these unusual and remarkable individuals. They're a difficult group yo understand; undoubted literary talent, fashionable, aristocratic and it's srange to think that the youngest sister, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, died only a couple of years ago. They all seem to be from a long gone age and yet they're part of a very recent past. Moseley, Hitler, Waugh, Churchill, Wallis Simpson, imprisonment without charge or trial, debutante coming out balls... all play a part in this astonishing slice of mainly 20th Century social history.

It's enthralling, often irritating but ultimately totally compelling. Can't sh I liked any of them much, but they aroused feelings of sympathy and distaste and certainly shaped a number of events.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A really excellent overview of the Mitfords

I was a little anxious when I began this book that it wouldn't tell me anything that I hadn't already learned from "The Mitford Girls" (another excellent biography) or Hons and Rebels, but I was happily proved wrong. Where The Mitford Girls is more of a chronological, factual recounting of the sisters lives, this book examines their relationships and motivations in more depth while still recounting their life stories. I also learned far more about the affect their behaviour had on their parents and how Nancy used their lives in her books. All in all I would not hesitate to recommend this book. It has lead me back to reading the Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate in a much more informed way than the first time I read them.
Finally a word about the Narrator, she is truly fantastic, I will be seeking out more books read by her, she really brought the book to life.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Very professional!

Maggie Mash reads this with style and force, very much like the sisters themselves might. I've read most books about this family yet still gained some insight from this audiobook. Excellently done. Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Fascinating

What is is about the Mitford sisters that remains so fascinating to people. This really in depth look at their lives is so well researched I am sure I'll listen again .

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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take six girls by laura thompson

excellent book well researched brilliant reader m mash highly recommend this book to any student of history or general reader

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enchanting but tricky storyline

Great narrator but the book itself is a little confusing in what concerns timelines. I believe it would be quite hard to follow for someone who doesn't already have some background knowledge of the family.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Sycophantic, repetitive and one dimensional.

I soldiered on to chapter 6 but found the author's attempt to give this group of shallow, self obsessed women such admirable qualities, rather painful.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

disappointing

when I read the blurb and learned off internet sites various things about the lives of each sister I was intrigued. I was hoping this book would give me an interesting comprehensive look at their lives and what they did.

sadly it wasn't what I got, the author seems particularly besotted with Nancy Mitford and her works of fiction, I understand these books must be important to the author. Unfortunately they mean little to me.
the hour long introduction completely confused me, once I was passed it it did seem like the book would pick up! but no, after a promising start describing their childhood and family situation things become very messy... the author jumps about from sister to sister describing different points in their lives, barely giving you enough time to discover how it all fits together before she jumps off again.

if you've already looked into the Mitford's and know a great deal about them then by all means you may enjoy this book, as added insight. if you're simply curious to know their life stories it may not be the best book to start with.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful