British culture seeped into my life through my Grandmother in the form of Marks and Spencer dresses, Beatrix Potter figurines, and Flakes. She visited England every other summer to visit her own mother, aunt and family who refused to fly to America. I flew across the pond with my mother when I was just seven. I spent most of the time in a big, old rambling house full of Polish relatives who didn’t speak a lick of English. But my mother, grandfather and I went for a day to London. I don’t know if this is where my love of all things British comes from, but it’s a guess. One of my favorite British novels is Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate. Just like Jane Austen, Mitford based her novels on what went on around her. You have this delicious sense that these people were real, and if not they are such wonderful characters that you can’t help but make them real in your own mind. Lady Montdore is a fearsome woman full of opinions about proper society and has ambitions for everyone. In this scene she is offering her insight about how to catch a man.
“You see, he doesn’t believe that women are ever intellectuals, hardly, hardly ever, perhaps one in ten million . . .Virginia Woolf, perhaps . .”
She goes on to offer her clear advice,
“And if I might offer you a little advice, Fanny, it would be to read fewer books, dear, and make your house slightly more comfortable. That is what a man appreciates, in the long run.”
I find these types of characters so hilarious, but if I had run up against one I suppose I would have ended up like the Bolter, living happily in Kenya.