June 19, 2011
June 16, 2011
Wait for Me!: Memoirs by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, is a pleasant book to read to pass the time. Deborah, née Freeman-Mitford. devotes part of the book to telling of her childhood with her parents, one brother, and five sisters. Readers familiar with the works of one of the sisters, Nancy Mitford, will already have some knowledge of the family. Nancy went on to write novels and biographies. Jessica, somewhat left-wing for a member of that family, went on to live in California and wrote a famous book about the American funeral business. Unity, a follower of Hitler, lived in Germany until she shot herself, not fatally, when war between Britain and Germany was declared. Another sister, Diana, married Sir Oswald Moseley, the leader of fascists in England.
Deborah married Lord Andrew Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. The elder son, who married Kathleen Kennedy, died during World War II, and Deborah’s husband Andrew eventually inherited the dukedom in 1950 upon his father’s death. Large amounts were due in estate taxes, but Andrew and Deborah managed to preserve the family seat, Chatsworth, and had success in having it open to the public with various shops and other money-making features. The most interesting chapters in the book describe the Duchess’s involvement in the management of Chatsworth. She has little to say about her own children, perhaps out of respect for their privacy, perhaps out of an awareness that they are not people who have made themselves celebrities of general interest.