In Tearing Haste : Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor, Paperback Book

In Tearing Haste : Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In spring 1956, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire - youngest of the six legendary Mitford sisters - invited the writer and war hero Patrick Leigh Fermor to visit Lismore Castle, the Devonshires' house in Ireland.

This halcyon visit sparked off a deep friendship and a lifelong exchange of sporadic but highly entertaining letters. There can rarely have been such contrasting styles: Debo, unashamed philistine and self-professed illiterate (though suspected by her friends of being a secret reader), darts from subject to subject while Paddy, polyglot, widely read prose virtuoso, replies in the fluent, polished manner that has earned him recognition as one of the finest writers in the English language. Prose notwithstanding, the two friends have much in common: a huge enjoyment of life, youthful high spirits, warmth, generosity and lack of malice. There are glimpses of President Kennedy's inauguration, weekends at Sandringham, stag hunting in France, filming with Errol Flynn in French Equatorial Africa and, above all, of life at Chatsworth, the great house that Debo spent much of her life restoring, and of Paddy in the house that he and his wife Joan designed and built on the southernmost peninsula of Greece.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Diaries, letters & journals
  • ISBN: 9780719568572

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I've always had a fascination for the England of the 1930s and though these letters are written between 1954 and 2007, they let us in to the world of two people whose lives were formed between the wars. Though neither retreated into the past their letters - funny, poignant and acerbic - light up that earlier period for me. There's much more of course, people famous and humble (fellow West Aussies turn to page 150 for the surprise appearance of a WA apple expert in Simla), travel, the business of writing and of running a stately home. PLF died on the 10th June this year making it rather poingant reading. I loved it, but it may a bit hard going if you don't have an interest in either correspondent...

Review by

This was my introcuction to the Mitford sisters, and to PLF, as well as to many other things. Reading any correspondence that spans over 50 years would be interesting,but the fact that these two have very interesting lives, makes it a fascinating read in deed! Even though I am sure there are things that have been edited away, it is a privilage to share somebody´s thoughts and follow their lives and I feel that Debbo and Paddy both had a lot to say. I was spellbound and thoroughly enjoyed this book. And as usual, this book alone resulted in a much expanded wishlist.

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