Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) was born into the British aristocracy and, by her own account, brought up without an education, except in riding and French. She managed a London bookshop during the Second World War, then moved to Paris, where she began to write her celebrated and successful novels, among them The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, about the foibles of the English upper class. Mitford was also the author of four biographies: Madame de Pompadour (1954), Voltaire in Love (1957), The Sun King (1966), and Frederick the Great (1970)—all available as NYRB classics. In 1967 Mitford moved from Paris to Versailles, where she lived until her death from Hodgkin’s disease.


The Soldier in Her

Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin

translated by Felice Harcourt, with an Introduction by Peter Gay
The Marquise de La Tour du Pin, born in 1770, was a member of the Irish, Jacobite Dillon family. After the Battle of the Boyne, at which the cause of James II was lost, her great-grandfather, Viscount Dillon, emigrated to France with his Irish troops; he was one of the …

All For Love

The Uncompromising Heart: A Life of Marie Mancini

by Françoise Mallet-Joris, translated by Patrick O'Brien
In the old Europe of the Kings, a man could rise from a humble station to all power, short of royalty, and govern a country which was not even his native land. Such was the career of Cardinal Mazarin. He was not a laborer’s son, like Alberoni, or a butcher’s …

Belle Lettriste

Madame de Sevigne

by Harriet Ray Allentuch
There are many books on Mme. de Sévigné: this seems to be the first American one. The author is said, in the blurb, to follow a “characteriological approach in tracing the structure of her subject’s attitudes.” Good gracious! What is she going to do to the poor Marquise? Nothing much—her …