This memoir is based on her own story of her early years but particularly the many, many epistles constant letter-writer Nancy Mitford sent to her family and friends. Sir Harold Acton has pieced them all together, unobtrusively. A good thing too, since when he's on his own he comes up with such things as ""poignant relics of her individuality"" or ""grist to her comedic mill."" All of which might spoil the presence he is attempting to convey--the humor, good taste, and gaiety which typified Nancy. She was the eldest of six sisters and one brother (nee 1904) born into a clannish, closed world. She married Peter Rodd, romantic, eventually dull and notoriously unfaithful, although she admits later on to preferring a life alone--save for her long liaison with her French ""Colonel"" whose identity is discreetly guarded. After moving to Paris in her middle years, she wrote most of her books but kept up her many friendships with English social and literary figures, particularly Waugh who called her ""an agitator of genius."" Her anti-Americanism was as ill-founded as her mistrust of doctors would prove to be justified; she died after several years of constant pain (refusing drugs) of an undiagnosed disease only later identified as Hodgkin's. Much of this is tony trivia about a woman who enjoyed tous les agrements of this world--clothes, antiques, her garden, as well as her writing. She remains a minor artist who majored in living well.