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The Titled Americans: Three American Sisters and the British Aristocratic World Into Which They Married Hardcover – November 18, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (November 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139245
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a nicely written historical work, with lots of information about the three daughters of Leonard Jerome, one of whom was the fabulous Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill. As someone who's always been curious to learn more about Jennie and her two sisters and their extended families, this book is very informative on that score and I applaud it for that reason. It was especially interesting to me to learn more about the children of Jennie's sisters, Clara Frewen and Leonie Leslie; these being the cousins of Winston Churchill. The young Frewens in particular had somewhat tortured upbringings, despite their "good birth" and I came away with a definite feeling of anger against Clara (the oldest sister) for being the selfish and childish creature that she was. I did think the author's choice of, and the presentation of the photographic illustrations could have been somewhat better (for example, there are instances of several photos all crammed together on one page, and sometimes the quality of the photos are poor). I would have enjoyed seeing more pictures of the sisters in their heyday, as well as more pictures of them as they grew older.

Jennie was rather less a creature of her time than her sisters. She must have been fascinating to know! She was always reaching for the best in life and she had such energy. As the author rightly points out, if she were a man, Jennie would have been a power, but the times didn't allow that to happen for a "mere" woman.

However, that being said, I have to note that the author is a guilty of an odd phenomenon that I am noticing more and more, particularly in works of history and in historical biography. It's what I call an overt plagiarism.
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Format: Hardcover
Elisabeth Kehoe's "The Titled Americans" is a good examination of the lives and careers of the surviving daughters of American financier Leonard Jerome: Leonie, Clara (originally Clarita), and especially, Jennie, the oldest, and probably best known for being the mother of Winston S. Churchill. Kehoe covers a lot of ground, focusing primarily on the lives of Leonie and her Leslie family and of Clara and her Frewhen family. Unfortunately, as another reviewer has so aptly noted here, we do not really get more than a terse descriptive look at these sisters, their husbands, and children. Without question, Jennie Jerome Churchill (Lady Randolph Churchill) was undoubtedly the most interesting of the three, working tirelessly as a dutiful politican's wife and as an unpaid resident "American Ambassador" to the United Kingdom at a time when relations between Americans and the British were far more cordial, and far less friendly, than they are now. I was struck reading how the lives of all three sisters were in many instances quite similar, having endured either poverty or unhappily married bliss (or in at least one instance both) inspite of their matrimonial alliances to British aristocracy. This slender volume serves mainly at best as a fine overview of the Jerome sisters and of their families; those wishing to read more about them should read the elegant biographies written by family members, most notably those by Winston S. Churchill.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoy 19th century English history so this book was an informative read. Always like to learn something new; for instance, Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill), Winston's mother, had a tattoo on her wrist. Apparently, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) started the trend with his Marlborough House set. Who knew! Well researched, easy to read.
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Format: Hardcover
This work chronicles the rise of one American family in the first half of the 1800s. The father is able to acquire a fortune through the stock market, and the mother is determined to take her three daughters to Europe where they will be able to trade their financial prospects for a European title, coming at the beginning of a series of marriages in which American heiresses were joined to less wealthy but socially advanced British nobility (particularly minor nobility). However, as the fortunes of the Jerome family wax and wane with the unsteady stock market, so do the prospects, marriages, and lives of the three Jerome sisters. Of special interest because one of the sisters (Jennie) is the mother of Winston Churchill.

Quote: "It was all the more important to women of their class to adhere to these standards because they had so little else beyond their social position. Their story thus illuminates what it meant to be a female member of the British aristocracy during its decline, when incomes were falling but lifestyles were slow to follow the downward spiral."

While I enjoyed this story and learning about the interesting lives led by the sisters, I also felt that it dragged on for rather longer than it needed to given its subject matter. And I'm a history teacher, so it's not that I automatically think history non-fiction is going to be boring :). However, the research seemed well done (end notes, yay!), and the stories of the lives of the three sisters and their offspring were woven together nicely.
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This book is a remarkable story of American women marrying into European families for money & titles. The Jerome sisters, one of them Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill's mother, are living in a time that just could not happen today. The rules and regulations that governed their lives were just unbelievable and yet it happened...and they break just about every rule they were taught.
I do enjoy the way the author gives a comparison to the values of money from then until today, it helps to understand the gains and loses they incurred. There are so many famous people mentioned in the book, friends and "lovers" of the sisters and there is so much information about how Winston and his brother & cousins were neglected and taken advantaged of as children. You will want to read this book. I'm passing it on to my husband who is a "History" buff

Emily Altermann
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