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Downton Abbey author’s new mystery stars real-life Hitler-loving Mitford sisters

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Over the course of the smash hit British television drama Downton Abbey‘s six seasons, author Jessica Fellowes produced five official companion books to the series. But in the years since the show ended in 2015, Fellowes shifted her interest from the fictional Crawley family to the real-life aristocratic Mitfords, whose larger-than-life personas rivaled anything imagined by a scriptwriter.

The Mitford family, with its six eccentric daughters and one son, generated scandalous headlines in the 1920s and 1930s — and is still drawing fascination. The strong-headed daughters followed their own paths, each representing a different political or social movement of the tumultuous era during which they came of age.

Eldest sister Nancy was a satirical novelist. Second sister Pamela took up poultry farming. Then came Diana the fascist, Unity the obsessed Hitler-lover, and Jessica the Communist. Finally there was the youngest Deborah, who became a duchess and ran one of the most stately homes in England.

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“Nancy wrote about her mother being worn down by six daughters who all had very dominant personalities. Can you imagine living with that? Three times a day — breakfast, lunch and supper — the kind of arguing and teasing and poking. It would just drive you mad,” Fellowes said in a recent interview with The Times of Israel from her home in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. ‘The Mitford Trial’ by Jessica Fellowes (Minotaur Books)

Fellowes decided to turn these notorious siblings into the subject of a series of murder mysteries. The novels have been published in quick succession, with the fourth, “The Mitford Trial,” already available in the UK and dropping in the US on January 19. There will be a total of six novels in the Mitford Murders Mystery series, with each one focusing on a different sister. The latest whodunnit highlights Unity, and also features sole brother Tom, who was a junior attorney before being killed in action in World War II.

Although the books have Mitford in their titles, and the siblings appear throughout,........

© The Times of Israel

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