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By Winston Churchill's own admission, victory in the Second World War would have been "impossible without her". Until now, however, the only existing biography of Churchill's wife, Clementine, was written by her daughter. Sonia Purnell finally gives Clementine her due with a deeply researched account that tells her life story, revealing how she was instrumental in softening FDR's initial dislike of her husband and paving the way for Britain's close relationship with America. It also provides a surprising account of her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt and their differing approaches to the war effort.
Born into impecunious aristocracy, the young Clementine was the target of cruel snobbery. Many wondered why Winston married her, but their marriage proved to be an exceptional partnership. Beautiful and intelligent but driven by her own insecurities, she made his career her mission. Any real consideration of Winston Churchill is incomplete without an understanding of their relationship, and Clementine is both the first real biography of this remarkable woman and a fascinating look inside their private world.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Go Steelers on 02-10-18
Well told history of inspirational unsung heroine
I bought this after finishing the 3 volume history of her husband, The Last Lion. It was clear from Manchester ‘s epic work that I could not understand Winston Churchill without understanding Clementine Churchill. This book is indeed enlightening, about a woman who was at once intellectually strong and emotionally fragile. She had an unprecedented influence on her husband, and had her own direct dealings with everyone from FDR to the generals and British cabinet. What I find especially inspirational is how she remained steadfast during a hard marriage to a supremely difficult man, who nevertheless loved and cherished her. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, together, they saved human civilization . Both were flawed — particularly as parents. Yet together they were great, in the most ideal sense of that word. It’s a reminder that marriage makes an impact on society that transcends its impact on the two individuals involved.
The book presumes at least a rudimentary knowledge of 20th century European history, especially the 1930s and World War II. It’s focus is on Clementine Churchill, not on the World-shaking history unfolding at her dinner table. The narrative includes just enough history to remind the reader of what was going on.
The narration was good. However, I found the tone a bit sonorous, especially compared to the rather lighter tone of The Last Lion. But that’s a minor complaint. I thorough enjoyed this audiobook.
44 of 46 people found this review helpful
By Gillian on 04-09-18
Exasperating At Times But Very Good--
If you keep Clementine in context, this is a very good book. Clementine was a woman ahead of her times, when women were still almost second class citizens, not really thought of as good as men. She did more as the wife of a Prime Minister than any before than and most after Churchill. If you can keep that in mind, you're in for an interesting ride.
But there's a lot here about her being, yes, the reason Winston didn't become a full-blown tyrant--but that's because she devoted a whoooole lot of her energy to keeping him in check, his towering rages, his excessive alcohol consumption, his tendencies towards self-grandiosity. What time and energy she had which could've been used a tad, just a tad, towards her children, was otherwise consumed. To say that her son was darned near a sociopath might be going a bit far, but not by much. Her daughters could've used some maternal guidance and nurturing too, but Clementine just didn't have it for them.
Clementine is a book about the family, the historical and political era, being a woman in a different time. Yes, I quibble about her ability to sacrifice her family for the sake of Churchill, but if you get past that, the exasperating, then perhaps you'll see that that everyone during that time of upheaval had to sacrifice a lot.
It's hard to swim against the tide, but to be able to hold back the whole of the tsunami that was Winston Churchill, and a world war? That's saying a lot about the strength of the woman.
133 of 143 people found this review helpful