Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford
- Source: – My copy, bookstore purchase
- Genre – Fiction, 1930’s, England, High Society, Humorous Fiction
Written in 1934, well into Hitler’s rise to power and popularity, Nancy’s Mitford’s novel takes a skewering and sarcastic look at the lives of the elite. Two friends escape to the countryside in search of wealthy heiresses to marry to sustain their luxurious lifestyle. At the same hotel, there is Lady Marjorie, hiding as a commoner, trying to flee from the Duke she left at the alter. At her side is her friend Poppy, who is trying to decide if she should divorce her rich husband or not. Along this troupe is a ditzy and over-the-top teen heiress living with her overly conservative and easily shocked grandparents. All of this adds up to almost a parody of the high society world of The Great Gatsby.
This was book funny, and quite shocking as well. Its understandably controversial, given Mitford’s take on Hitler. I had to keep reminding myself that this novel was written before his reign of terror and horror over Europe really took hold. Although there is humor and exaggeration in the characters Mitford gives us, it does fall flat in many areas. All in all…its very tongue-in-cheek, but much of it is based on people actually in Mitford’s life (Eugenia is based on her sister Unity Mitford). Which makes me wonder how much she was actually able to separate her sarcasm from the truth. Its no wonder Mitford worked so hard to suppress the publication of this novel for so long. Its definitely not flattering. It reminded me of Voltaire’s Candide, and some of the dialog was as fast-paced and witty as a Dashiell Hammet novel. I would definitely give the author’s other books a try, but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this one anytime soon.