Monday, May 8, 2017

Quick review of Nancy Mitford's Don't Tell Alfred

To quote the Chicago Sunday Tribune, Nancy Mitford's Don't Tell Alfred is "a wickedly clever novel, ... hilariously funny ..." Mitford daringly and deftly juggles foibles of the English, French, Americans, and teenagers in the context of international diplomacy and family dynamics. Written from the point of view of Fanny, Alfred's wife, the novel recounts ridiculous scenarios during Alfred's first year as English ambassador to France in mid-twentieth century Paris. These scenarios are laugh-out-loud funny, partly because they are outrageous, partly because they portray human motives and dilemmas so truthfully. Mitford was apparently the type of person who could see humor in frustrations of politics and parenting. The title, Don't Tell Alfred, comes from many characters' spoken instincts to not bother Alfred with silly goings-on when he was carrying out serious duties of an ambassador.

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