Given the latest adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love starring Lily James is coming to Amazon on July 30, I thought it was high time to do a full review of the previous adaptation, Love in a Cold Climate (2001). Starring Rosamund Pike and Elisabeth Dermot Walsh, the 2001 BBC miniseries combines The Pursuit of Love with its sequel, Love in a Cold Climate to tell the story of three minor aristocratic women’s love lives in 1930s England. I’ve raved about this series before, but having just rewatched it, I need to rave again — THIS IS SO GOOD!!
First, we need to talk Mitfords, because if you aren’t familiar, get ready to get interested. The real Nancy Mitford and her sisters had a very eccentric childhood, and they grew up to be gorgeous, stylish, and sometimes scandalous in the 1930s and beyond: Nancy was a novelist/biographer and socialite; Diana was a socialite and fascist; Unity became a devotee of Hitler; Jessica moved to the US where she became an author and communist; and Deborah became the 10th Duchess of Devonshire. The novels are semi-autobiographical and they are witty, sparkling, and highly entertaining. There’s a number of biographies written about the sisters; I can recommend The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell.
Love in a Cold Climate‘s Characters
Heading back to that eccentric upbringing, I’m almost loathe to really get in-depth in the story/characters of Love in a Cold Climate because they are SO DAMN GOOD and often the surprise is part of the joy. Yes, in some ways this could be Yet Another Good BBC Interwar Miniseries — but here, the characters are unconventional, colorful, and often downright hilarious. So, if you trust me, go watch this and then come back and read this review! If you don’t, here we go:
Fanny, played by Rosamund Pike (Wives and Daughters, The Libertine, Pride & Prejudice, Radioactive), is the narrator. Her mother has left so many men that she’s become known as The Bolter; Fanny takes the opposite tack, being kind, stable, and loving. She’s raised by relatives, but spends all of her holidays with her best friend/cousin’s family.
That best friend is Linda, really the main character. She’s sweet, trusting, and a total romantic. She falls in love immediately, without thinking through whether she’s made the right choice, and then falls in love again and again.
Woven in from the novel Love in a Cold Climate is Polly, another relative and friend. She’s been living in India with her parents for a few years, but is back. She’s a beauty, but for some reason is totally indifferent to all the men she’s meeting, to the despair of her mother.
Fanny and Linda basically grow up together. They (and Linda’s siblings) form a secret society called the “Hons” (short for the title honorable, I think?) and have meetings in the linen closet, as it’s the only warm room in the rambling manor house.
Linda’s parents are Uncle Matthew/Fa (Alan Bates: Far From the Madding Crowd, Quartet, The Wicked Lady, Hamlet, Gosford Park, Bertie and Elizabeth), who is all bluster, hilariously stuck in the World War I mindset (all Germans are “Huns,” all foreigners are suspect), but very loving; and Aunt Sadie (Celia Imrie: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Nanny McPhee, The History of Tom Jones) who keeps him in check.
Then you’ve got SO MANY GOOD supporting characters that I can’t cover them all, but here’s a few:
There’s many more, but I gotta get to:
Costumes in Love in a Cold Climate
Okay, this is an early 2000’s BBC production, set in the interwar years, and designed by Mike O’Neill (Daniel Deronda, The Last King, North and South, Elizabeth I) — so you know they’re good! There’s less to say about them other than they’re perfect for the period, and there’s lots of pretty to look at.
You’ve got your simple daywear:
Some faaaabulous wedding gowns:
And it’s the 1930s, so the hat game is ON POINT:
Have you seen Love in a Cold Climate? If you haven’t, run don’t walk to see it! You won’t be disappointed.