“The Pursuit of Love” is a scathing satire of the British upper classes


There is no such thing as a really horrible party to cement a friendship. Alone, the night may be a painful failure of the bruised ego; With an ally, it’s a tale. In the first episode of Emily Mortimer’s new, three-part adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s 1945 novel a novel About upper classes in English, “The Pursuit of Love” – ​​Coming Soon Amazon Prime Video July 30 – Teenage girl Fanny Logan (Emily Beacham) and her more glamorous cousin Linda Radlett (Lily James) find themselves on the busiest evening. In 1928, they were dressed in exotic taffeta and organza dresses and faced a room full of Linda’s father’s older friends, who were introduced as potential fiancés for Linda’s older sister Louisa. Protected Fanny and Linda, who were not yet 18 and largely estranged from “society”, spent weeks fantasizing about the event and the possibility of meeting their crush—a “middle-aged, chubby red-faced farmer” for Fanny, Prince of Wales Linda—on the dance floor. Instead, they are largely ignored, with men speaking in low voices about the House of Lords and the killing of animals. “They are all very small and ugly’ says Linda, desperately, holding Fanny. “Old and ugly. “

The three-episode series stars Emily Beecham (left) as Fanny Logan and Lily James as Linda Radlett.Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

For Linda and Fanny, parties aren’t just about socializing. They are also escape routes, providing a way, by marriage, out of the Radlett family’s frozen castle-like home headed by Linda’s father, known to Fanny as Uncle Matthew (Dominic West). Uncle Matthew, like many of the eccentric aristocrats in the Radletts circle, is an eccentric Old Englishman: wealthy and out of touch. “Uncle Matthew didn’t know the middle path. He either liked it or he hated it. And generally, it must be said, he was hated,” Fanny, who tells the story, tells us in the voiceover. Every morning, Uncle Matthew appears on the lawn of the house, breaking a pair of whips and cruising with the opera. He is so proud of the horrific “fixer” hanging over the fireplace, which he used “to beat eight Germans to death as they crawl out of bunker in 1915.” We learn that he hates “the Huns, the frogs, the Americans, the Catholics, and all other aliens”, and that every Christmas he loves to “catch” his children and chase them across the sprawling lands with a quartet of “beautiful blood dogs”. “If the Radlett had been poor, he would undoubtedly have been sent to prison for beating and refusing to teach them,” says Fanny calmly. “Uncle Matthew hates educated women, especially me.”

Fanny lives only part-time with the Radlett family and several of their unruly children. Often, she lives with her aunt Emily (Annabelle Mullion), who took over after Fanny’s mother ran away at 19, “feeling too beautiful and perfect to bear the burden of a child.” Fanny’s mother, played by Emily Mortimer with apparent happiness, rocks her daughter’s life occasionally, as Fanny says, “like a meteor showering me with its extravagance.” Always laughing, always carrying gifts, Fanny’s mother “escaped so often and with so many different men that she became known to her family and friends as Poulter.” Poulter seems to be having a great time: she appears lying in a swimming pool, waving away her new love, an Italian count, with a domineering hand. She gives her daughter a dowry and then leaves. She appeared at the same parties as Fanny (“Hey baby! I got this Long!‘), with the younger men, and dance them all under the table. ‘Is that Linda I just saw you with?’ she said to Fanny in one, in her exaggerated intensity. ‘Oh, no, it’s like It’s wrong to be friends with girls who are more beautiful than one, my dear. it’s a also Depressing the spirit.”

Poulter may be cruel, but she’s not entirely wrong. Linda’s appearance, and her intense obsession with finding love, threaten to overshadow Fanny and their childhood friendship. “Poor Linda,” Aunt Emily’s partner, Davy (John Heffernan), tells Fanny. “She has an intensely romantic flair, which is fatal to women, and also what makes her completely irresistible. Fortunately, most women are crazy about reality. Otherwise, the world could hardly go on.” (When Fanny asks, in a moment of extreme weakness, “What am I, Davy?” he unsatisfactorily replies, “You are you, Fanny. You will be fine”). Drift away. Linda soon married the first man who swept her off her feet – rich and rightly hated the lower classes – and moved to a wonderful house in London. Fanny falls in love with the gentle scientist Alfred (Shazad Latif), and settles into a quiet life in Oxford. (Flirting: “Oh my God, don’t you like a library?” A hint of judgment, and perhaps jealousy, creeps into Fanny’s narration of Linda’s story. “I’ve become what is known as the beauty of society,” she says. , Buzz. Conversation, chat, chat.”

There is something very thorny and honest about Fanny’s friendship with Linda. She’s sipping on a cocktail she can’t put down. A relationship is characterized by that thorny mix of dedication and rivalry that sometimes exists between women who have grown up together. When they were children, they sat in a linen closet and compared the measurements: arms, waist, chest, and ankles. As adults, they compare spouses, homes, children, and ideologies. At several moments over the course of the three episodes—and there are spoilers ahead—Linda tells Fanny, truthfully, “I’m lost without you.” However, each one cannot prevent changing the other’s life choices over and over again in her mind, like worrying on a stone. When Linda runs away from her awful first husband, Tony (Freddy Fox), she comes to Fanny for something like forgiveness. “I think it’s unfair that when I’m unfaithful it’s disgusting, but when it’s Tony nobody stops him from anything!” Linda says. You can see Fanny struggle to carefully keep her face blank; She rules, no doubt. Later, when Fanny advanced, piously, “After all, the well-being of our children is all that really matters in the end,” Linda is silent. She looks pityingly at her friend.

It all comes to a head when Linda asks Fanny to say goodbye to her at the train station. Linda, who has never left England, is heading to the Spanish border, where her new husband, this time a Communist, has gone to fight fascism. Fanny, pregnant again, is skeptical about the trip – and marriage – but she’s burning with jealousy nonetheless. She takes it personally, as do friends. “It might be easy for you to give up everything, leave your life, be free, and never face any consequences, but some of us have to stay behind to support our husbands and take care of the children,” Fanny says angrily. She accuses Linda of abandoning and abandoning her child. Finally, Fanny says the words they both fear: “I always tell everyone that you’re not like my mom, but you are just like her.”

The choices women make, and the comments other women make about those choices, have been fertile ground for Nancy Mitford. By the time she wrote The Pursuit of Love, her fifth novel and which began her career as a writer, she had watched five sisters emerge into society – the “upper-class English version of the rites of puberty” – with radically different results. Partly because of the turbulent times they lived in, and partly because of their eccentric inward-facing upbringing, the Mitford sisters chose diametrically opposite fates (to the enduring charm of the British public). One sister ran away from her wealthy first husband. To become the mistress of Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British Confederation of Fascists. And another became a communist. Another duchess. Another, an admirer of Hitler, shot herself when Britain declared war on Germany. In an extensive biography,The Six: The Lives of the Mitford SistersLaura Thompson writes, “One may cheer the professions of the Mitford Sisters in the manner of Henry VIII’s wives, thus: writer; country; nazi fascist; communist duchess.”

Nancy Mitford resisted marriage for just over a decade after her breakout, much to the horror of some of her sisters. She went through several social seasons, turning down offers from respected guys for her own reasons. You can imagine her lurking among the elegantly dressed men and women, their eyes sharp and a little pale, making jokes and piercing vanities – the kind of person you’d like to sit next to at a dinner party. In The Pursuit of Love, she is a perfect guide through this strange and arrogant world, as she recreates a fictionalized version of the Radlett’s Mitford childhood, which Thompson has memorably described as “lavish.” “Supreme irony The pursuit of loveThompson writes, “by the time it was published, pretty much everything he represented had faded.”

Mortimer’s adaptation injects new life into Nancy Mitford’s most accurate observations. Andrew Scott, who played the “sexy priest” in Phoebe Waller-BridgeFleabag‘Pleasantly entertained as Lord Merlin, Radlett’s distinguished neighbour, who puts Dada playing in his backyard and paints his bathroom bright colors. (“Oh, no, they love it. Hmm.” the love He. She. makes them too beautiful for each other.”) Lord Merlin acts as a semi-mentor for Linda, who has randomly taken up her education, and appears at critical moments in her life to offer help and destructive thoughts. Scott is a delight to watch; he is persuasively perpetually lively—the embodiment of the magic of Mitford.” You really are so frighteningly traditional,” he said, exasperated at one point. “We can’t all experience the same kind of home bliss that you and your — stumbles — do.”Alfred achieved. Some of us have to protect bohemianism and scorn.” And why not? This is a period drama that parodies the congestion of that period, playing on its fickle mores, as when Fanny and Linda stood for a novice photo shoot—white dresses, gloves, big feathers—to coarse tones. And the wonderful. From Marianne Faithfull, “Give My Love to London.”

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