BOOK REVIEW - THE HORROR OF LOVE: NANCY MITFORD AND GASTON PALEWSKI IN PARIS AND LONDON
THIS is an account of Nancy Mitford’s only real love affair and its title is taken from an exclamation she made to her sister Diana Mosley. Her choice of men, never good, began with gay Scotsman Hamish St Clair Erskine.
They were engaged but his cosmetics, alcoholic giggles and nervous collapses should have been a warning. Her second was Peter Rodd, another drunken party-goer, and she went as far as to marry him. Peter was sacked from jobs but realised it was easier to live off the money Nancy scraped from writing and part-time work. No children; and eventually a hysterectomy.
Peter was sometimes sober during the Second World War and while stationed in Ethiopia he met one of de Gaulle’s aides, Gaston Palewski, who was trying to galvanise the Free French cause in north Africa.
De Gaulle had fled to London after the fall of France in 1940 and when Palewski rejoined de Gaulle there he also brought news of her husband to Mrs Rodd. They met at the Allies Club in Park Lane and that was that. He was an experienced seducer and she, after a life of frustrations, was longing to be switched on....
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