Nancy Mitford was, for a number of years, a bookseller.
Between 1942 and 1945 she was employed in Heywood Hill’s bookshop at 10 Curzon Street, and effectively ran the business when he was called up for war service.
Her interest in the shop continued when she moved to France after the war and she corresponded with Heywood Hill right up to the month before she died in 1973.
This book travels through that correspondence.
Nancy’s letters talk about books, enquire about the reception of her own work and gossip about her life and social circle, while Heywood passes on stories of the shop and its customers, news of mutual friends and reports of literary life and events in London.
Both are wonderful letter writers and their different styles work well together.
However, John Sumarez-Smith, the editor and present manager of the bookshop, has opted to omit letters that have already been published elsewhere and, in many cases, only uses very short extracts from letters.
As a result the book doesn’t flow as well it could, and I can’t help feeling that, while this slim volume was a lovely read, the story and correspondence could have formed the basis of an even better book.