The world is fascinated by British royalty — the glamour, the glitz, and the posh lifestyle. For all those royal watchers, Wait for Me!, a memoir by Deborah Mitford, the Duchess of Devonshire, is a satisfying read.
Deborah grew up in Oxfordshire, England, the youngest of seven siblings. Her father loved agriculture and animals, and Debo, as she is known to her friends, inherited that love and spent her childhood roaming her family’s lands with him. When she was older, the family moved to London, where she met Andrew Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire.
Andrew’s brother’s untimely death during World War II made him his father’s heir, and when the Duke died, Andrew and Debo gained vast tracts of land in England and Ireland, including the magnificent family seat, Chatsworth.
But it is not Debo’s wealth and position that brings her story to life. Instead, it is the friends and family whose stories she shares. From the antics of her five older sisters—including an elopement to Spain and a prison sentence—to tales of funny friends, like the writer Evelyn Waugh, Debo brings people to life and invites readers to become a part of her captivating world.
My personal favorite recollections are of her times with the Kennedys. Andrew’s brother was married to Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy before his death, and the Devonshires remained close to the family, even being personally invited to sit with the family during Jack Kennedy’s inauguration. Debo also had connections to the greats (and terrible) of Europe: She played host to Prince Philip at her family estate and called Prime Minister Macmillan “Uncle Harold” – and she even had tea with Hitler before the outbreak of World War II!
Duchess Deborah led an amazing life, traveling the world and meeting incredible people. She also inherited the writing bug that bit two of her sisters, Jessica and Nancy, and her witty and insightful comments bring her characters alive and draw people into her world.
This book is for Anglophiles, but it’s also for anyone who loves a well-told story or longs to spice up their usual fiction with a terrific memoir.
Wait for Me! is available now from Picador at a list price of $18.