“Engrossing…the first formal biography of a woman who has heretofore been relegated to the sidelines.”–The New York Times
A long overdue tribute to the extraordinary woman who was Winston Churchill’s closest confidante, fiercest critic and shrewdest advisor that captures the intimate dynamic of one of history’s most fateful marriages, from the author of A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
Late in life, Winston Churchill claimed that victory in the Second World War would have been “impossible” without the woman who stood by his side for fifty-seven turbulent years. Why, then, do we know so little about her? In this landmark biography, a finalist for the Plutarch prize, Sonia Purnell finally gives Clementine Churchill her due.
Born into impecunious aristocracy, the young Clementine Hozier was the target of cruel snobbery. Many wondered why Winston married her, when the prime minister’s daughter was desperate for his attention. Yet their marriage proved to be an exceptional partnership. "You know,"Winston confided to FDR, "I tell Clemmie everything."
Through the ups and downs of his tumultuous career, in the tense days when he stood against Chamberlain and the many months when he helped inspire his fellow countrymen and women to keep strong and carry on, Clementine made her husband’s career her mission, at the expense of her family, her health and, fatefully, of her children. Any real consideration of Winston Churchill is incomplete without an understanding of their relationship. Clementine is both the first real biography of this remarkable woman and a fascinating look inside their private world.
"Sonia Purnell has at long last given Clementine Churchill the biography she deserves. Sensitive yet clear-eyed, Clementine tells the fascinating story of a complex woman struggling to maintain her own identity while serving as the conscience and principal adviser to one of the most important figures in history. I was enthralled all the way through." –Lynne Olson, bestselling author of Citizens of London
In this first fully researched biography of Clementine Churchill, British political reporter Purnell (Just Boris) reveals a smart, savvy, and independent-minded woman who disagreed with her husband on such political issues as women's suffrage, and on personal matters such as "holidays, gambling, and even their own son." Based on extensive interviews with three generations of the extended Churchill family, as well as archival work in Britain and the U.S., Purnell's work aids readers in appreciating Clementine's personality, her domestic life, and the political context that she and Winston lived in and helped to shape. While she spent much of her 57-year marriage apart from Winston, Clementine was fiercely loyal and immensely helpful to him, as shown through anecdotes featuring key figures with whom she and Winston interacted, especially during WWII. Purnell shows empathy for her subject, but she doesn't spare criticism, particularly in portraying her as a distant, somewhat neglectful mother of the couple's five children all of whom led troubled lives, except their youngest daughter, Mary. This exemplary biography illustrates how Clementine's intelligence, hard work, and perseverance in often difficult circumstances made her every bit a match for her remarkable, intimidating husband, and a fascinating figure in her own right.
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I found this book awful. I want my money back. Both Winston and Clementine were completely selfish and unlike able. They were horrible parents who messed up their children and the only one that turned out normal was Mary who was raised by a Nanny. Clementine having to take vacations constantly and then complaining about money, my eyes were dry. Very sad statement of their lives.