Don't Tell Alfred is Nancy Mitford's final novel. Living in the city she loved, Paris, the great commercial success of her two most famous, and for sure best, novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate made her independent, her last novel focuses on Fanny, the narrator of these two works. Fanny married an Oxford Don and lived as a professor's wife fir years. When World War Two began her husband was called to serve the war effort as a diplomat. When the war closed he was rewarded with appointment as Ambassador to France. Fanny was used to her very quiet life at Oxford. She and her husband Alfred have two sons.
The great part of this novel is in the descriptions of Paris. Fanny experiences cultural shock at the embassy. The wife of the prior ambassador at first refuses to leave, she was very popular with the Parisian elite and Fanny feared she cannot fill these very expensive shoes. I found this plot like weak and sorry to say a bit silly. There is also a plot line involving their sons. One seems to be styled as a "teddy boy", he works as a tour leader for Brits visiting Paris. There other son has been impacted by the burgeoning counter culture and is going east seeking wisdom. I also found the depiction of the sons not Mitford at her best.
If you love Nancy Mitford, as I do, you owe it to yourself to read all her novels, maybe 2000 pages at most. The lesser works still,have wonderful moments.
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