Hons and Rebels, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'Whenever I read the words "Peer's Daughter" in a headline,' Lady Redesdale once sadly remarked, 'I know it's going to be something about one of you children.' The Mitford family is one of the century's most enigmatic, made notorious by Nancy's novels, Diana's marriage to Sir Oswald Mosley, Unity's infatuation with Hitler, Debo's marriage to a duke and Jessica's passionate commitment to communism.

Hons and Rebels is an enchanting and deeply absorbing memoir of an isolated and eccentric upbringing which conceals beneath its witty, light-hearted surface much wisdom and depth of feeling.


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This is a fantastic autobiography. It begins with Jessica’s early years at home with her family, the eccentric Mitfords. Every character comes vividly to life under her pen – her sardonic mother and fiery father, and each of her larger-than-life sisters: witty Nancy, headstrong Diana, conservative Pam, Hitler-obsessed Unity, romantic and wistful Deborah – and their often-overlooked brother Tom. Such strong and entertaining personalities make for hilarious reading.Jessica successfully carries the reader through into the days when this eccentricity becomes something more ominous and oppressive. She strongly questions her family’s devoted loyalty to Conservatism, Fascism and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, instead feeling very much on the side of liberal Communism.She runs away to the war against Franco in Spain with her spirited cousin Esmond, whom she later marries. Their exploits in France, Spain and America, living a hand-to-mouth existence and taking every lucky opportunity, make up the rest of the book, with witty and lively character portraits interspersed with poignant remembrance of her family and deep, educational discussion of politics.Despite the heavy presences of war and politics, the book is never weighed down, though there was always a sadness in my mind that Esmond was killed shortly after the experiences detailed here. The four photos helped bring these experiences to life and allowed the reader to put names to the faces they must surely come to admire and love throughout the course of Jessica’s tale. Highly recommended.