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Highland Fling (1931)

por Nancy Mitford

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1928108,580 (3.41)18
"In Highland Fling--Nancy Mitford's first novel, published in 1931--a set of completely incompatible and hilariously eccentric characters collide in a Scottish castle, where bright young things play pranks on their stodgy elders until the frothy plot climaxes in ghost sightings and a dramatic fire. Inspired in part by Mitford's youthful infatuation with a Scottish aristocrat, her story follows young Jane Dacre to a shooting party at Dulloch Castle, where she tramps around a damp and chilly moor on a hunting expedition with formidable Lady Prague, xenophobic General Murgatroyd, one-eyed Admiral Wenceslaus, and an assortment of other ancient and gouty peers of the realm, while falling in love with Albert, a surrealist painter with a mischievous sense of humor. Lighthearted and sparkling with witty banter, Highland Fling was Mitford's first foray into the delightful fictional world for which the author of The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate later became so celebrated. With an Introduction by Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey"--"First novel by comic British novelist Nancy Mitford, first published in 1931, reissued with an introduction by Julian Fellowes"--… (mais)
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Nancy Mitford’s first novel, a light, charming, and funny debut. Written in her 20’s, you can already appreciate her burgeoning talent in making fun of her privileged class. ( )
  Misprint | Aug 31, 2020 |
First published in 1931, ‘Highland Fling’ is the first novel by Nancy Mitford and the first I have read, determined to read them in order. What a breath of fresh air it was after reading two detailed historical novels, this light frothy concoction made me chuckle.
An amusing observer of manners, Mitford excels at that peculiar type of incomplete conversation between two people gossiping about mutual acquaintances in which each completes the other’s sentences. This is a novel of its time, upperclass wealth, upperclass lack of wealth, centuries of families and traditions the roots of which have been forgotten, and the juxtaposition of bluff country old-timers with Bright Young Things from London. ‘Highland Fling’ is set in a Scottish castle, a closed-room setting, loved by crime writers, which Mitford uses mercilessly to compare and contrast. It is a world with which the author knows well and at which she gently pokes fun.
Young artist Alfred Gates returns from Paris to London and visits his newly-married friends Walter and Sally. Sally’s parents are called away and the three friends go to Scotland to host the parent’s shooting party. As well as the shooting guests, including stodgy old-fashioned military and aristocratic types, the younger guests include Jane Dacre who fancies herself in love with the effete Albert. Albert, who dresses in brightly-coloured flamboyant clothing which offends the traditionalists, searches Dalloch Castle for examples of Victorian decorative accessories which he photographs for his book. While the shooting guests are up at dawn and tramp around the moorland, the youngsters rise at midday and drink champagne for breakfast. Teasing, of old by young, is inevitable with the hapless victims suspicious but unable to produce proof of their tormenters. Mitford mines the humour by placing both groups in close proximity and letting them clash, on a shoot, and a visit to the local highland games.
As a first novel this gave me a taster of Mitford’s acerbic wit and observation of social manners, acute in its sharpness of both old and young, wealthy and not, though crude in some instances.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Mar 9, 2018 |
While perhaps not quite as good as her later novels, Mitford's first one was still very amusing and wittily bitter. It worked wonderfully for a long plane ride. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Feb 24, 2017 |
Highland Fling was Nancy Mitford's first novel. It was published in 1931. I have recently bought all of Nancy Mitford's novels, and intend to read all eight.

It was interesting and informative for me, as someone who is working through each of Nancy Mitford's novels chronologically, to note that Jane Smiley, here in The Los Angeles Review of Books differentiates between Nancy Mitford's four pre-war novels, and her four post-war novels
But there is no real sense, in the pre-war works, of the grandeur and sophistication Mitford would achieve in the last four. There is, in fact, considerable evidence, especially in Wigs on the Green and Pigeon Pie, that Mitford's world view — compounded of knowing frivolity and evenhanded acceptance of the various political forces that are about to clash so tragically — is overwhelmed by her material. She can organise her story, more or less, and she can give her characters vivid life, but she can't acknowledge the meaning of their opinions or their actions. Her characters are imprisoned in a world where consequences are muffled by privilege and where all eccentricities are merely amusing. The clue to the narrowness of this world is Mitford's failure to introduce it systematically or to depict it with much detail. She writes from the centre of that world, for an audience who knows what she is talking about, for whom more explanation would retard the pace of the jokes.

The whole article is well worth a read, and it has whet my appetite for all of Nancy Mitford's work. I am encouraged to learn that her books should get progressively better and better.

Good comedic writing is notoriously difficult to do well. The sublime P.G. Wodehouse and early Evelyn Waugh, can reduce me to tears of laughter. Highland Fling, which provided the odd chuckle, suggests that Nancy Mitford might also have this talent.

Highland Fling is undeniably a pleasant read. The slight story has some great characters. Like P.G. Wodehouse, albeit on this occasion without the guaranteed hearty guffaws, what Nancy Mitford achieves in her first novel, is a window into the English aristocracy in the first half of the twentieth century. Nancy Mitford's nuanced descriptions of the personalities that populate Highland Fling highlight the acute intergenerational conflicts between the Bright Young Things and "the grown ups", many of whom are traditional, austere, stereotypically aristocratic Victorian characters. These figures are brought to life with clarity and wit. Nancy Mitford also manages to incorporate universal themes: relationships, family, love etc.

Highland Fling is a bit uneven, but I enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading more of her work. I am going to try to resist the temptation to read her second novel, Christmas Pudding (1932), before December 2013, so to better appreciate the novel's Christmas setting, but I may have to give in to the temptation to start reading it sooner. ( )
1 vote nigeyb | Oct 30, 2013 |
I made the mistake of reading this whilst ill. It is perfect sickbed reading- an easily digestible plot, hilarious, witty without being as scathing as much her later work, superbly observed- unless you have a cough which is triggered by laughter. Still I couldn't stop reading it. The opening of Chapter 2 is one of the best things I have read.
My favourite exchange:
"How well you are looking, Sally. Where did you get so wonderfully sunburnt?"
"At Elizabeth Arden's, Aunt Madge." ( )
  Becchanalia | Oct 4, 2012 |
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Wilson, MeganDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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"In Highland Fling--Nancy Mitford's first novel, published in 1931--a set of completely incompatible and hilariously eccentric characters collide in a Scottish castle, where bright young things play pranks on their stodgy elders until the frothy plot climaxes in ghost sightings and a dramatic fire. Inspired in part by Mitford's youthful infatuation with a Scottish aristocrat, her story follows young Jane Dacre to a shooting party at Dulloch Castle, where she tramps around a damp and chilly moor on a hunting expedition with formidable Lady Prague, xenophobic General Murgatroyd, one-eyed Admiral Wenceslaus, and an assortment of other ancient and gouty peers of the realm, while falling in love with Albert, a surrealist painter with a mischievous sense of humor. Lighthearted and sparkling with witty banter, Highland Fling was Mitford's first foray into the delightful fictional world for which the author of The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate later became so celebrated. With an Introduction by Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey"--"First novel by comic British novelist Nancy Mitford, first published in 1931, reissued with an introduction by Julian Fellowes"--

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