From Publishers Weekly
Daughters of a wealthy Wall Street speculator and his heiress wife, all three Jerome sisters—Clara, Jennie and Leonie—married titled English husbands, setting a trend for upper-crust Anglo-American liaisons at a time when Britain's landed gentry were in dire need of cash. Jennie married first, in 1873, to Lord Randolph Churchill, in spite of opposition from his father, the Duke of Marlborough. Jennie became the best known of the sisters, not only as the mother of Sir Winston Churchill, but as a formidable personality in her own right. The more vapid Clara married the dashing Moreton Frewen, whose lack of business acumen brought him the nickname "Mortal Ruin." The youngest sister, Leonie, married Jack Leslie, son of one of the largest landowning families in Ireland. But neither Clara nor Leonie rivaled the beautiful and witty Jennie, who captivated Victorian and Edwardian high society. Although Kehoe devotes equal attention to all three sisters—their marriages, affairs and lifelong solidarity as outsiders in a world they didn't always understand—Jennie's magnetic charms dominate the narrative. Kehoe's readable book, her first, perfectly captures the decadence of the sisters' privileged world in its historical context of a British Empire just past its peak, the struggle for Irish Home Rule and the impact of WWI. 16 pages of color and b&w illus. not seen by PW
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Thanks to several previous biographies, most notably Ralph Martin's classic biography Jennie
, Winston Churchill's irrepressible mother is fairly familiar. Less well known are her two sisters, Clara and Leonie. The three were daughters of dashing New Yorker Leonard Jerome, who made and lost several fortunes. Mother took them to Europe to look for suitable--that is, rich and aristocratic--husbands. Jennie's marriage to Lord Randolph Churchill catapulted her to the upper reaches of British society, although she and Randolph led mostly separate lives. Clara married charming, feckless Moreton Frewen, dubbed "Mortal Ruin" by his friends; and Leonie, the most down-to-earth sister, married into the Anglo-Irish landed gentry. Through all their ups and downs, the sisters' closest bonds were with each other. Kehoe provides much detail about the social trends and historical events that formed the backdrop for the sisters' lives. Her combination of meticulous research, good storytelling, and glimpses into the lifestyles of the rich (or at least living as though rich) and famous circa 1900 will satisfy a range of readers. Mary Ellen QuinnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved