I am in the midst of creating a book list and the topic I have chosen is “Girls on the Loose.” This is perhaps not a well known genre but it is one that I particularly enjoy. I was thinking of books I like, that were memorable and engaging reads. My list, to begin with, looked liked this:
- Our Hearts Were Young and Gay
- Nancy Mitford – The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate
- Two Under the Indian Sun
- The Flame Trees of Thika, The Mottled Lizard, Love Among the Daughters
These books all seem to connect together for me. They are memoirs, they are humourous, they all take place in the early 20th century, they all involve girls that are enjoying the adventures of girlhood. In my head, I called them girls on the loose. They are irrepressible, getting into scraps, enjoying life, and ignoring the boundaries. (Interestingly, all of them involve girls and young women who go on to be authors.) The more I thought about girls on the loose the more books I identified, both fiction and non-fiction, with characters young and old. (Miss Jane Marple you are not fooling anyone! She is most clearly a girl on the loose).
All this is long a way round to an introduction but this is the appeal to me of The Pursuit of Love – the irreverent humour, the sense of nostalgia, irrepressible youth. The satire has bite but it has heart too. Linda is really just a typical girl. She is so silly, so desperately in love with love, but she is still tender and insightful. The people who truly love her love her for a reason. And the family are a riot!
Of course, it’s hard to talk about The Pursuit of Love without mentioning Love in a Cold Climate. It is not a true sequel but a companion piece. There is an excellent miniseries, Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate – the older one, with Judi Dench as Aunt Sadie – that meshes the two together quite wonderfully, because they are concurrent. You really have to read them both to really get a taste for the time and the people, and Mitford. Love in a Cold Climate is a little more biting, a little more glittering. But you can appreciate that Mitford is taking on her whole class in it, not just her family or the times. So here are The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate side by side, if anyone is looking for a true girl on the loose experience.