""Decca" Mitford lived a large-than-life life: born into the British aristocracy - one of the famous (and sometimes infamous) Mitford sisters - she ran away to Spain during the Spanish Civil War with her cousin Esmond Romilly, Winston Churchill's nephew, then came to America, became a tireless political activist and a member of the Communist Party, and embarked on a brilliant career as a memoirist and muckraking journalist (her funeral-industry expose, The American Way of Death, became an instant classic). She was a celebrated wit, a charmer, and throughout her life a prolific and passionate writer of letters - now gathered here." "Decca's correspondence crackles with irreverent humor and mischief, and with acute insight into human behavior (and misbehavior) that attests to her generous experience of the worlds of politics, the arts, journalism, publishing, and high and low society. Here is correspondence with everyone from Katharine Graham and George Jackson, Betty Friedan, Miss Manners, Julie Andrews, Maya Angelou, Harry Truman, and Hillary Rodham Clinton to Decca's sisters the Duchess of Devonshire and the novelist Nancy Mitford, her parents, her husbands, her children, and her grandchildren."--BOOK JACKET.
Despite far more than her fair share of tragedy and upheaval, what emerges is a woman who faced life with courage, humour, conviction and honesty. From a very early age she rebelled against her aristocratic background, running away to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and then America, where she married radical lawyer, Robert Treuhaft, having joined the Communist Party during the McCarthy era, which also signalled decades of civil rights activism.
The letters in this book cover her very early years up to her death. I was most interested in the letters she exchanged with her mother and sisters, and realised as I worked through this book that I might have been better off reading a biography about the family. Indeed I think this book would be most suitable for someone who has already got a good understanding of Jessica's own story and that of her family. That said, Peter Y. Sussman who edited this book, provides detailed a helpful introduction to each section, in addition to numerous useful explanatory footnotes - it must have taken him ages!
This book contains many wonderful letters which are well worth reading if you are interested in Jessica Mitford, and it is probably most suitable for readers who have already read her other works and want to dig deeper.