Review: The Mitford Vanishing by Jessica Fellowes


Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of the audio of this book in exchange for a fair review.

My Interest

The glamorous Mitford girls, daughters of Lord Redesdale (a first cousin of Clementine Churchill), were “influencers” (in today’s terms) in posh society in 1930’s London.  Unity became one of the first well known stalkers–she was in love with Hitler and stalked him till she got to meet him. Nancy left a Guinness (yes, THAT Guinness family) for Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Fascists, and Jessica was a communist who later wrote exposes on the funeral industry and birth “industry” in the USA among other works.  They fascinate me for another reason, too. The tiny bit of truly “formalized” education any of the girls received (beyond a governess) was thru Charlotte Mason’s Parents Education Union.  I’d love to do some sort of fiction about THAT part of their lives!


Photo credit (click)
Lord and Lady Redesdale with their six daughters and son, Tom, in 1928.

The author, Jessica Fellowes, is niece of Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey. So, she’s not likely to make a hash of titles or forms of address, now is she?

The Story

1937–the Coronation of the new King George VI looms, war rages in Spain and the 5 of Lord Redesdale’s six daughters has vanished! Former Mitford family nursery maid, Louisa Cannon, now a private investigator with her husband (a former police detective) is called upon to discreetly find her! Younger sister Deborah’s (aka “Debo” later Duchess of Devonshire and one time sister-in-law of Kick Kennedy) debutante season and marriage prospects are potentially to be diminished by the possible scandal! (Someone pass the smelling salts! And, please, sweet tea and Sherry!) Meanwhile, two very ordinary women have disappeared–is there a link? Louisa and husband, Guy, must find out.

The story is based on the real life “disappearance” of Jessica, aka “Decca” Mitford when she ran off with some-degree-of-cousin-disant-enough-to-marry, Esmond Romilly–a nephew of Clementine Churchill. Married while already expecting the couple’s first child–who would die from lack of a measles shot. Esmond died in World War II. Esmond and Jessica were some of the few young people who were truly committed to the Communist cause in 1930s, in spite of the many who claimed it.


The Hon. Jessica (“Decca”) Mitford and husband, Mr. Esmond Romilly.  Photo: TIme-Life.

My Thoughts

I think this entire series is already on my TBR, but I wish I hadn’t waited so long to jump into it. It’s pretty well done for a who-done-it series! (I’ve posted about it before in this post). It’s hard to write about mysteries without giving away the whole story. I liked the way the Mitford family is fictionalized–they are believable here. I also like the way Louisa has come into her own in the series–that’s a great touch. That the topic of the “side” murders is something women today can relate too–i.e. a 1930’s #metoo moment and battered wives, is ok with me. It’s handled in the terms of the era of the story–nothing too modern occurs. And, one thing that happened I don’t think Agatha Christie would have considered! That was a great idea [No spoilers].

I will definitely go back and start at the beginning–a rare compliment from me, previously given only to Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series!

Note to the editor of this book: It was called a “receiver,” not a “hand set.” Gosh, will this mistake never end? “Hand set” entered the language with cordless phones. And, an “invisibility cloak”? It was just used to describe something, but please…. Tiny things, but ….

My Verdict

4 Stars

(or should that be four peer’s coronets?)

4 thoughts on “Review: The Mitford Vanishing by Jessica Fellowes

Add yours

  1. I’ve loved all of the books in this series so far and currently have this one sitting on my shelf ready to read. I’m glad it’s as good as the previous ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like an interesting series. Nice review. I had not heard of it before. I know, I know, I live under a literary rock!


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