by Diana Cooper
As read on BBC Radio 4. Lady Diana Cooper was an aristocrat, society darling, an actress of stage and early screen. When she married rising political star Duff Cooper, they became the golden couple who knew everyone who was anyone; they sat at the very heart of British public life. Diana's letters to her only son, John Julius Norwich, cover the period 1939 to 1952. They take us from the rumblings of war, through the Blitz, which the Coopers spent holed up in the Dorchester (because it was newer, and therefore less vulnerable, than the Ritz), to rurual Sussex where we see Diana blissfully setting up a smallholding as part of the war effort. After a spell with the Free French in Algiers, Duff was appointed British Ambassador to France and the couple settled into the glorious embassy in post-Liberation Paris. Over and beyond all the glitz, Diana emerges in these letters as highly intelligent, funny, fiercely loyal: a woman who disliked extravagance, who was often cripplingly shy, who was happiest in the countryside with her cow and goats and whose greatest love and preoccupation were her husband and son. As a portrait of a time and some of history's most dramatic and important events, these letters are invaluable. But they also give us a vivid and touching portrait of the love between a mother and son, separated by war, oceans - and the constraints of the time they lived in...
Please, darling monster, write as often as you can. It's so sad waiting for letters that don't come and are not even written. I love my darling boy. Don't treat me so badly again or I'll have your lights and liver when I get home . (19 November 1939). I wish, I wish it was all over - Hitler defeated, the lights up again and the guns still . (2 October 1940). Yesterday was a gallop of spirits and people and sun and fun . (26 September 1948). I do my best but I'll always be a bum . (12 October 1948).
In 1919, Diana Manners, daughter of the Duke of Rutland, married the penniless Duff Cooper, later British Ambassador to Paris, because, as she told her son, every man she had ever danced with was dead. ‘She was an inveterate letter writer…And she told us everything that happened, writing in a style that was entirely her own’, says John Julius. These letters take us from the early rumblings of the coming war, through to post-war Paris and Duff’s time as British Ambassador. Diana Cooper knew everyone, but what she really loved best was hearth and home, husband and child. Tender, absorbing and readable, this is a brilliant picture of a vanished world.
'Witty, touching, perceptive and beautifully written... Read at a sitting or keep by your bed -- either way you will be enchanted.'
- Jonathan Dimbleby, Mail on Sunday
'Cooper's letters have special immediacy and frankness... a lot of gossip, for sure, but also some sublime descriptive writing... And then there is her beadiness, which is worth its weight in silver breakfast trays... Truly blissful.'
- Rachel Cooke, Observer New Review
'She treats her son, last seen in a dimly lit station, as a much missed grown-up to whom she can be exhilaratingly open. She sends him intimate glimpses of the great... the good... and the not-so good. Inescapably posh but rarely judgemental... she is rescued from glibness by her childlike curiosity and humour, and the always innocent eye with which she peeks at the world.'
-Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph
'This book is a rich fruitcake, stuffed with delicious and surprising plums.'
- Jane Ridley, Literary Review
'Though always exigent of love, the letters are filled with jokes, sharp observation and relish for the passing moment. This selection of them offers a sparkling portrait of a maternal relationship.' - Jane Shilling Evening Standard
Publication date: 06/11/2014
|Publication date:||6th November 2014|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites,|
|Categories:||Diaries, letters & journals, Autobiography: general,|