Books: Decca's Blithe Zeitgeist

A FINE OLD CONFLICT by Jessica Mitford; Knopf; 333 pages; $10

If the Mitford sisters did not exist, Evelyn Waugh would have had to invent them. Their splendid improbability makes his ongoing saga of the decline and fall of the English upper class read like an understatement. Take for instance Nancy Mitford, one of the Mad Young Things of the '20s and a bitter-comic novelist in her own right, who ended up in self-imposed exile in Paris, musing about Louis XIV. Or consider the two fascist Mitfords: Diana, who married Sir Oswald Mosley, Führer...

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