The first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) was a soldier of such genius that a lavish palace, Blenheim, was built to honor his triumphs. Succeeding generations of Churchills sometimes achieved distinction but also included profligates and womanizers, and were saddled with the ruinous upkeep of Blenheim. The family fortunes were revived in the 19th century by the huge dowries of New York society beauties Jennie Jerome (Winston's mother) and Consuelo Vanderbilt (wife to Winston's cousin).
Mary S. Lovell brilliantly recounts the triumphant political and military campaigns, the construction of great houses, the domestic tragedies, and the happy marriage of Winston to Clementine Hosier, set against the disastrous unions of most of his family, which ended in venereal disease, papal annulment, clinical depression, and adultery.
The Churchills were an extraordinary family: ambitious, impecunious, impulsive, brave, and arrogant. Winston - recently voted "The Greatest Briton" - dominates them all. His failures and triumphs are revealed in the context of a poignant and sometimes tragic private life.
©2011 Mary S. Lovell (P)2011 Tantor
"Lovell's writing style will keep readers wanting more." (Library Journal)
I loved every minute of this book! I have just finished Roy Jenkins wonderful life of Winston (I have also read all of Manchester and Gilbert) and loved those books as well.
But this is something different, call it "local color" if you like. The day to day life of this unbelievably dysfunctional family is fascinating. I am and will be forever amazed by the fact that the outcome of WW2 was to such a large extent in the hands of WC who came out of this culture. I don't think I ever realized how remarkable that was, as his parents were two of the most selfish and ridiculous (and ultimately tragic) of the lot.
If you love stories of Dukes and Duchesses with all their eccentricities with the American aristocracy thrown in for good measure, allow yourself the indulgence of this well written if newsy book. I love hearing about the clothes, food, and gossip of the time, it give wonderful context and background to so many of the subsequent stories. Sometimes understanding history requires something beyond dates and parliamentary debates, this is a wonderful tour de force of a time and place with the sights, smells and taste thrown in.
Well read and very well researched, this book is almost as good as a trip to England
You may find yourself getting up to make tea and scones, or reaching for the port and a good cigar. Sit back and enjoy
If you are interested in the personal lives of famous people this book is for you. It contains information which is not in most history books and fills out the personality profiles of Winston and Clementine Churchill. I found the information about their children and the relationships between these famous parents and their offspring most interesting. It also provides a good look at the life of privilege which the upper class in England experienced during the late 19th and early 20th century.
I especially liked the portrayal of Randolph Churchill. It pulled no punches.
I liked breaking it up and enjoying each generation in turn over time.
I am a big Winston Churchill fan so I thought this would be good. I was mistaken. It probably appeals to a certain segment that would have been glued to the recent English wedding, but if you are a normal guy there are better books to pick. I think the reader does a good job, but the material is hard to take.
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