Friday, December 17, 2010

Vintage Novels {Wigs on the Green}


I read this book two months ago and I've been struggling to write a post on it ever since. Actually, I'm never quite sure how to put anything by Nancy Mitford into words on a paper. How can I or anyone summarize and review her works in more then three sentences without ruining the subtlety of her humour and her keen insights into her observations of the human condition, especially since most of her characters are based on her own family?
I could tell you that Wigs on the Green was her third novel and was published in 1935 and has been out of print (for obvious reasons) until just this year. I could also tell you that the book is both a comedy of manners about two young men in search of an heiress to marry and a scathing satire on the British Fascism movement started by Diana's husband and that the character of the heiress Eugenia Malmain is clearly based on Unity. This book is more then just a lampoon of Fascism, like Wodehouse's Spode and the Black Shorts. It is a both a satire and a criticism of Fascism, but also a warning of the very real danger of what people with Unity's level of fervour for the Nazi movement could lead too for Britain.
However, it is also a very funny book. Who else but Nancy would describe the village beauty as being "fluffy" or repeatedly point out that Eugenia is the wealthiest heiress in Britain, but wanders around in a threadbare skirt with no stockings! Or have two men as gold diggers and not the other way round. She is also careful to criticize her class and how the morals and values of her parents generation have led to the behaviour of her own generation, whether that be good or bad is left up to the reader to decide. I don't know what else to say, since I don't want to ruin even the smallest detail for you. So I'll end with by saying that it's a hilarious book, you'll enjoy it and it's quite short and easy to read.
Since it's been out of print for so long, it's never been filmed. But it could be adapted by the right person, but only as a BBC series and not a feature film.

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