Once again, we meet narrator Fanny to witness a very different kind of dysfunctional love in her family in this quasi-sequel to The Pursuit of Love. This time, it involves Fanny’s distant cousin Polly, and the secret and forbidden love she’s been languishing under for years.
While Fanny’s crazy cousin Linda has been making a fool of herself so that she can find a boy and get laid, Polly is turning her nose up left and right at eligible and handsome tail, much to the chagrin of her mother, the hatchet-like Lady Montdore. Well, Polly finds herself a match that is incredibly scandalous and finds herself disinherited. Then, Lord Montdale’s heir, the unapologetically flamboyant Cedric, shows up from Canada and then becomes Lady Montdale’s BFF. Basically, the Johnny Weir to her Tara Lipinski. The Queer Eye to her Straight Gal. You get my drift. He’s gay in every sense of the word. He also does his best to facilitate the happiness of everyone in the novel, which makes him far more exciting and fun than other early twentieth-century “aesthetes” who often meet highly tragic ends in these kinds of novels.
I find this portrayal of homosexuality to be really interesting. Mitford makes him super flamboyant and femme in this novel, but it does not make Cedric wimpy or woman-like. Rather, he’s a fascinating, innovative person. I think we can stand to have more people be “themselves” in novels. Love in a Cold Climate is not my favorite overall novel, but I do think it’s really interesting that years before civil rights movements are taking place, Mitford is already setting the stage for LGBT characters to take central roles in domestic fiction.