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First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill Paperback – April 7, 2016
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Purnell portrayed Clementine as a strong willed and ambitious woman who was a great support to Winston Churchill. The author, as well as many other historians, made it clear in the book that Winston Churchill was a difficult man to live with. They both were products of unstable marriages. Clementine’s mother was Lady Blanche Hosier and her husband was Colonel Henry Hosier but it is thought that Blanches, bother- in- law Lord Bertie Mitford was Clementine’s father. Blanche’s brother Lord Redesdale gave Clementine away at her wedding to Winston.
The author says that it appears both were faithful to their marriage for over 60 years. Clementine had a flirtation with a man on a cruise one time when their marriage was at a rocky point but she says nothing was acted upon. Purnell quotes Winston fondly described an enraged Clemmie as “a jaguar dropping out of a tree.”
Their mutual goal was the office of Prime Minister. Clementine had a genius both at patching up the wreckage caused by Winston’s bad decisions and at offering good advice. Clementine was a committed suffragist who unfailingly put her husband first. Their intimate relationship was crucially tested during the “wilderness years.” The Churchill’s thrived on the combination of crisis and chaos. Clementine volunteered for the job of rooftop fire watcher during WWII. She was respected for her humanitarian efforts on the home front and as a great First Lady during WWII.
If you enjoy reading about the Churchill’s this is a must read book. I read the hardback edition; the book is 392 pages long and was published in 2015.
Winston and Clementine were truly a team and Clementine's huge contributions during WWII are examined and brought forward in this book. Clementine Churchill was a Fierce First Lady.
Top international reviews
It's a riveting story, brilliantly told, of individual and family life blended with the intensely public life that came with marriage to Winston Churchill. Even if you are familiar with the Churchill story, page after page will reveal new facts and throw new light on famous events. This book is about Clementine Churchill, not Winston - but her importance to him means the two stories are practically inseparable.
Intelligent and educated, she was Liberal, progressive and a supporter of the suffragists. Clementine Hozier would to modern readers seem to have obviously been destined for her own independent political career. But as Clementine Churchill her political importance was very significant, far greater than most readers (including me) will ever have imagined.
Technically, Britain does not of course have a `First Lady', so when the time came, Clementine simply created the role for herself. Deeply involved in the war effort at the very top, she wrote memos and notes of `advice' (which given their source were effectively orders), offended even her husband's most loyal civil servants by what was undoubtedly (beneficial) interference in government - and in short provided Churchill with invaluable and unfailing support that no-one else could. We see how she acted as his additional conscience and bore the weight of worry about his health as the war took its toll.
Sonia Purnell explores how, through a turbulent, exciting and ultimately fulfilling marriage, Clementine and Winston made a formidable partnership dedicated in earlier years to his political success and totally dedicated to victory over Nazism. Perhaps the most remarkable chapter is `Operation Seduction USA' describing the schemes and family members employed to draw visiting American emissaries into the wider Churchill `family' and gain their support for Britain in the desperate years before Pearl Harbour, whatever it took.
Clementine's meetings with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt are described in detail and it's clear that Clementine, though a more skilled political hostess and diplomat, was inspired to expand the scale of her public works by the successful social campaigning of the Democrat First Lady. Clementine's huge fund-raising achievements on behalf of the Red Cross and humanitarian support for the West's Russian allies culminated in her triumphant visit to the Soviet Union and her meeting with Stalin, the description of which is another of the book's many highlights.
This is a fascinating book, wonderful to read and near-impossible to put down. Highly recommended, 5*.
My question would be what if there had been no first world war or second world war, would Churchill and his wife have been remembered. The other question would be if we had had a different prime minister at the helm during the second world war - would the outcome have been different? we will never know.
The lady herself I felt was born in the wrong time as today she would have gone to university and may have gone into politics herself. I was left thinking she was extremely selfish with her children, wanted to go on long holidays or take her self off to bed to the detriment of her children. Both sadly had been damaged from bad childhoods and that may account for this and it was a different time.
There had not been a role/job description for the prime ministers wife which she made this her own and changed the way things were run.
Clementine came into her own in the first world war as did a great many women running canteens across London.
During the second world war she did a great deal for the ordinary people, but allowed her female relatives to sleep with the American for the country.
I found at the end of the war extreme selfishness when they actually had to deal with rationing. I naively thought they were in it with the nation not so.
Interesting and never able to live within their means going from one financial crisis to another.
Good historical references and well written by the author she told the story warts and all.
Mrs. Churchill is an iron willed dame managing finding her niche even in hardship.
Very revealing not only on Clementine herself, but also on the Churchill family and many
of their acquaintance. The relationship with the Roosevelt family is also fully explored.
I reached the final page sad for both of them at the end of their dramatic and significant lives.
Quite a few details I did not know about her Beforehand. If you are interested in second World war this is a good read.