Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford

It’s hard to say that I have a “favorite” book, because not to sound like a total book snob, but I really have read far too many for me to narrow it down to one. Hons and Rebels, Jessica Mitford’s memoir, is one of the most inspiring books I have read so far (and I am not alone in drawing inspiration from her).

Long story short if one did not read either of of my links, Jessica was one of the Mitford sisters, best known I suppose for their extreme views during WWII. Unity and Diana becoming fascists (both meeting Hitler and Unity falling in love with and attempting suicide over him), Jessica abandoning everything and becoming a communist, the other three mostly stayed out of politics. Nancy wrote a novel mocking Diana however, as well as two novels that were semi-autobiographical.

Anyway, Jessica is my favorite as she fell in love with her cousin Esmond Romilly. They eloped in France, fled to Spain where they documented the Spanish Civil War (I realized that’s a war I hardly know anything about), moved back to Britain and then the US. Esmond was killed in action during WWII. Jessica eventually became involved in the American Communist Party and the Civil Rights Movement (where she met her second husband) and also wrote an exposé on the American funeral industry and how it exploits the grieving (The American Way of Death).

I just admire her guts for giving everything up and fleeing (since she was a child she had kept a bank account explicitly for the purpose of running away). I can identify in a way since I decided to move to New York and never look back, however I obviously did not run into a war zone as she did. She also stuck to her principles and beliefs despite heavy opposition from her family.

I tried to find some good excerpts from Hons and Rebels but could only find the introduction. My favorite chapter is when she meets Esmond for the first time. She believes that he’ll find her silly and childish (however she does believe that if one puts their mind to it they can make someone fall in love with them), but she goes ahead and asks him to take her to Spain and he agrees and of course, falls in love with her!