Living in the middle of a valley in Normandy isn't all good news. Buying English books for example. In our tiny village? ..... un boulanger - yes; le boucher - oui; le petit bar - aussi, BUT, la librairie anglaise is strangely missing. Amazon is always happy to wing books to my door, but thank goodness I have several english speaking friends who take pity on me when I look under nourished and give me their hand me downs.
So it is that I inherited a couple of weeks ago from a very lovely Patricia - big thank you if she's reading - a bag load of books including this delicious number
Deborah Devonshire the youngest of the Mitford sisters, grew up with her five sisters and brother on various huge estates in the beautiful Cotswolds. She married Andrew who unexpectedly inherited a small cottage called Chatsworth.
What is delightful in the book is her strong, independent and thoroughly straightforward character. She rubs shoulders with the great and the good but never thinks of herself as successful. “Rather an odd thing to want to be."
The book is a collection of memories ranging from Kennedy's funeral to the usefulness of tiaras, and, - why I thought it may be interest to you girls - her encounter, whilst out hunting one day, with Nancy Lancaster, the famed American "taste maker".
'Debo Devonshire writes "Whatever Nancy touched had that hard-to-pin-down but instantly recognisable gift of style. Her genius (and that is no exaggeration) was her eye for colour, scale, objects and the dressing-up of them; the stuffs the curtains were made of, their shapes and trimmings, the china, tablecloths, knives and forks.
Describing Ditchley, Nancy's home, she continues; "Even the bathrooms were little works of art. Warm, panelled, carpeted, there were shelves of Chelsea china cauliflowers, cabbages, tulips and rabbits of exquisite quality. A far cry from the cracked lino and icy draughts to which I was accustomed.
I had never seen such huge, square, down pillows as she went in for, nor Porthault sheets, decorated with carnations or trailing blue flowers and scalloped edges of the same colour; and the puffed-up eiderdowns covered in pale silk with tiny bows where a stitch held the down in place.
The tea tables had no cloths but were painted brilliant Chinese red. Anyone could have done that, but no-one else did.
The rooms and their delectable contents were only part of the story. All that beauty could have been set up, and people would have delighted in it, but the whole of Ditchley reflected the personality of Nancy herself. She was the star on the stage she created."
Nancy had an eventful life but nevertheless became principally responsible for creating the English country house look, notably through the influence of her company Colefax & Fowler. .
So I thought that as we post on the interior design that we find so exciting, these words of tribute from one strong woman to another may touch you.
Hope it wasn't too long to read and that you American gals are proud of this truly stylish expatriated sister.