Clementine : the life of Mrs. Winston Churchill

by Sonia Purnell

Hardcover, 2015

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Viking, [2015]

Description

A portrait of Winston Churchill's extraordinary wife and her lesser-known role in World War II discusses her relationship with political mentor Eleanor Roosevelt, her role in safeguarding Churchill's health throughout key historical events and her controversial family priorities.

User reviews

LibraryThing member streamsong
The story of Clementine is the story of Winston Churchill and of Britain.

Clementine lived an upper class, but rather unconventional childhood, with a mother known for her many lovers and Clementine's paternity somewhat in doubt. She married Winston Churchill in 1908. He was already a well known
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political icon, ten years her senior.

The subtitle of the book :”The Life of Mrs Winston Churchill” is most apt. Clementine Churchill stayed in the background of Winston's political career. Clementine made her opinions known to Winston (they argued over women's suffrage in the early years, a proposal that Winston vehemently opposed.) Unlike her contemporary and counterpart Eleanor Roosevelt, Clementine was the helpmate, furthering politcal ties for Winston with social events, and often offering the wisdom of empathy, which Winston seemed to lack. She engaged in helping in the homefront in both World Wars as well as spearheading help for an impoverished Russia before the iron curtain slammed down.

She was a complicated person. As Winston wrestled his Black Dog of depression, Clementine also wrestled at times with 'nervous conditions'. A loving mother, she often was away from her children for quite extended amounts of time until a family tragedy jolted her back to motherhood.

I learned a lot about Clementine's life and the life of British upper class at the time. I learned more about Winston Churchill and British history. A worthwhile read.
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LibraryThing member PennyMck
A fascinating biography of Clementine Churchill, an unknown, unappreciated woman who nevertheless played a pivotal role in world history - well worth reading
LibraryThing member yukon92
Very dry book of a very self-absorbed family!
LibraryThing member Parkerpal
Interesting read. Well researched. I learned much about this intriguing woman of history, especially her importance behind the scenes during WW11
LibraryThing member lauralkeet
This was an interesting biography of Clementine Churchill that revealed the significant role she played in British politics, albeit largely behind the scenes. Clementine didn’t aspire to politics, but after marrying Winston, a consummate career politician, she found herself supporting his
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endeavors in ways large and small. Clementine helped campaign for his parliament seat, critiqued his speeches, spoke freely at dinners and other engagements, and routinely offered advice on Winston’s conduct, especially around thorny issues.

While Clementine was a formidable partner in Winston’s career, the couple was less successful in raising a family. This was perhaps due to a lack of role models and dysfunctional upbringing, but I still found this aspect of their lives shocking and sad. Their three older Churchill children were largely neglected by their parents, and led very difficult and traumatic adult lives. After the tragic loss of their then-youngest child, the couple seems to have wised up. Their next (and last) child benefited from the care of a loving nanny/guardian almost up to adulthood.

Sonia Purnell portrays both Winston and Clementine as the flawed human beings they undoubtedly were, providing a more in-depth portrait than commonly found in the history books. This book lacked the spark and excitement of Purnell’s A Woman of No Importance, but I appreciate her commitment to bringing women’s role in history to the forefront.
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LibraryThing member clue
I've read other books and articles about Clementine Churchill but never one as comprehensive as this. The author reveals Clementine's complexity and the depth of her influence on her husband in a way nothing else I've read has. Clementine had her shortcomings as we all do, but she was nonetheless
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an amazing woman who has been largely forgotten.

Clementine Churchill (1885 – 1977) didn’t have the traditional childhood that would be expected of the wife of one of the most important men of the twentieth century. Her mother and father, having both been involved in extramarital affairs, decided to separate rather than divorce when Clementine was young. Although her mother was the daughter of an Earl she and the children moved frequently, usually living in depravation.

Undoubtedly her unconventional upbringing caused Clementine to have a different outlook than her peers. When she met Winston Churchill at a dinner party he was surprised and impressed when she ably took part in the political discussions at the table. Four years later they were married.

Although she had five children, Clementine was not maternal and generally handed her children over to nannies. It was her self-absorbed husband and his work that received her devotion. She had an astonishing level of involvement in his work, essentially serving as his most trusted aide. She read and improved his speeches and even routinely advised him on policy.

In her own right, Clementine, unlike her husband, had a genuine interest in common people and unofficially served as the face of government to them particularly during the wars. Her interest in their welfare earned respect and admiration and she would sometimes be applauded as she walked down the street.

A fascinating life and a fascinating book that appears to rest throughly on careful research.
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LibraryThing member evatkaplan
Taken from letters between the Churchill's and interviews. Very interesting and well written. She was very much involved in every aspect of Churchill's coming to power & she was his backbone. Not a very good mother, in my opinion & they were both "in love with power."
LibraryThing member WiserWisegirl
Another strong woman whose historic contributions come into balance after this good read.

The perseverance of Winston, Clemontine, and the British people as a whole as they awaited the entry of the United States of America into the war against tyranny was so well narrated.
My historic perspective of
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this much written about era and these two giant figures has been tweaked and twisted with my thirst quenched for the time
but not yet wholly satiated.
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LibraryThing member WiserWisegirl
Another strong woman whose historic contributions come into balance after this good read.

The perseverance of Winston, Clemontine, and the British people as a whole as they awaited the entry of the United States of America into the war against tyranny was so well narrated.
My historic perspective of
Show More
this much written about era and these two giant figures has been tweaked and twisted with my thirst quenched for the time
but not yet wholly satiated.
Show Less

Awards

Plutarch Award (Shortlist — Biography — 2016)

Language

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