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The Churchill Sisters

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I really enjoyed this book about the daughters of Winston and Clementine Churchill. I didn't really know anything about their lives before I read this book, and the author takes you through their lives mostly chronologically, which I appreciated. It is a solid 4 stars maybe 4.5. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes biographies or is interested in Winston Churchill.

It started with a brief overview of Winston and Clemmie's lives and how they met. Then, the book breaks out into each daughter's life in segments of time, so that while you switch from person to person, you are seeing overlapping parts of the others' lives.

It did not feel dry at all. The sisters came to life for me as I learned about their triumphs and tragedies, and how they were such a part of the "great man" himself.

I received an ARC of this book as a reviewer for NetGalley.
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Three beautiful, talented sisters from an illustrious family, The Churchill Sisters Diana, Sarah, and Mary Churchill each had different personalities but shared in common their idolization of their father, Winston.

Winston was a loving and involved father, while Clementine needed distance and often escaped the demands of her life by taking vacations apart from the family. Later in life, she developed better rapport with her girls, but it was Winston who was always the center of the home.

I loved learning about these woman, especially their service during the war and their role supporting their father politically. But I was saddened to know that, like their brother Randolph, who is believed to have suffered from bipolar disease, they did not have happy ever after lives.

Sarah served in photo reconnaissance during WWII. After the war, she resumed her life as an actress. Her commitment to her career resulted in several failed marriages. Then, she suffered the loss of her beloved soul-mate. She struggled with self-esteem issues and alcoholism.

Diana had a career in the Royal Navy Services during the war, but later had two failed marriages and contended with mental health issues.

Mary served during the war in anti-aircraft batteries and accompanied her father on important political missions. She had a successful marriage and children and wrote her parent’s biographies.

This accessible, concise, and moving group biography will appeal to many kinds of readers.

I was given a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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A very enjoyable (and quick) read. I never knew much about Churchill beyond basic political accounts. I feel that I learned as much about him as I did about his daughters. As one other reviewer mentioned, it did just skim the surface and didn't;t dive in as much as I would have liked.
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I love history and learning. I have always been fascinated with Mr. Churchill. This was a pleasant read and I enjoyed learning about his daughters. Thank you NetGalley!
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Not only was this an enjoyable read, I learned so much about the political and personal challenges faced by Winston, his wife Clementine, and their daughters, especially in the WWII era. . Son Randolph was mentioned but played a minor role in the book.  The three surviving sisters, Diana, Sarah and Mary ( Marigold having passed tragically as a toddler), had very different interests, personalities and strengths.  All appeared extremely loyal and loving to both parents despite their personal life challenges.  Of the children, Mary appeared the most even-keeled and stable.  I had known nothing at all about Winston’s children so I found the book very informative.  

A fascinating part of the book for me was the degree to which all the daughters traveled with Winston on critical war-era international trips to provide personal and emotional support.  For example, Mary joined Winston on a trip to Hyde Park to meet the Roosevelts, and Sarah accompanied Winston to the November 1943 Tehran Conference which was the first meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Winston’s political challenges domestically and internationally were well-portrayed.

The author also recounted numerous amusing incidents, such as when the young sisters began giggling at the dining table when Winston’s marmalade cat, seated on his own chair and cushion, was eating pheasant and cream, appearing to bow in reciprocation to his master across the table.  The author also recounts that the grown Mary enjoyed her own cigar while Winston smoked his, and they competed for the longest cigar ash.

Dr. Trethewey did not shy away from the depressive episodes experienced by Sarah and Diana, nor son Randolph and daughter Sarah’s alcohol addiction.  She described the insulin shock treatments used at the time in psychiatric facilities such as one Sara experienced.

This was an excellent and informative read about the era itself and the Churchill family, and I highly recommend it.

My thanks to #netgalley and the publisher for an advance reader’s copy.
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The author draws on previously unpublished letters from the Churchill archives, personal diaries and print media from the time to delve deeply into the lives of the three surviving Churchill sisters (the fourth, Marigold, died before her third birthday).  

Diana (1909-1963) seemed to struggle the most with finding her place in the world.  She married politician Duncan Sandys, part of her father’s cabinet, and they had three children before they divorced.  During World War II, Diana was an officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  After the war, she was active in her husband’s campaigns, as well as her brother’s, and represented Winston.  Her primary focus was on her children though.  Unfortunately, she suffered nervous breakdowns and received electroconvulsive therapy as well as insulin shock therapy, which sounds brutal.  She joined an organization for the prevention of suicide, and felt as if she had found her place and was making her mark on the world.  Sadly, she committed suicide a year later.

Sarah (1914-1982) did find her place and made her mark, unfortunately alcoholism jeopardized her chances of becoming a superstar.  During WWII, Sarah was part of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and worked in photo reconnaissance, where she reportedly did well although she always doubted herself.  Sarah’s first two marriages ended in divorce, and her third marriage, while ecstatically happy, ended with her husband’s death a year later.  Sarah also had an affair with John Winant, the American ambassador to Britain, and it appears that their break-up contributed to his depression and led to his suicide.  Sarah did well as an actress, but it appears her lack of self-confidence and her alcoholism may have played a part in her static career.  Sarah had drunken bouts leading to her arrest in London as well as Los Angeles.  She later turned to art, and she created lithographic prints of her father, which are really quite good.  Her cause of death was from an undisclosed illness.

Mary (1922-2014) was the youngest, and perhaps the closest to her mother.  It appears that after Marigold’s death, Clementine’s mothering took a turn and she became closer to Mary than she was to her other children.  During WWII, Mary worked for the Red Cross, the Women's Voluntary Service and the Auxiliary Territorial Service, serving in London, Belgium and Germany and achieving the rank of Junior Commander.  She was also Winston’s companion on many of his trips to meet with Truman and Stalin, and she was her father’s confidant.  Mary was married to Christopher Soames, and they had five children.  Soames served in the military during WWII as Assistant Military Attaché in Paris. After his return to London and a parliamentary career, he was appointed ambassador to France, with Mary at his side as hostess of fabulous soirees.  Soames later became the last colonial governor of Rhodesia and is credited with aiding the transition to the government of Zimbabwe.

The author explores the diverse, interesting, and, at times, troubled lives of these three women.  The stories of each is fascinating, affirmed with many excerpts from family letters, and the book is written clearly and concisely.

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This book follows the lives of Winston Churchill's daughters - Diana, Sarah, Marigold, and Mary.  Born into a political family with strong views, the daughter's reacted to the stress and publicity in different ways.  This was a very well written and interesting novel.  The daughter's lives were fascinating in their own right.  The book was well paced and the characters dynamic.  Overall, highly recommended.
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Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the free book.
I don't read many biographies because they don't usually work for me, but that was not the case with this one. I could not stop reading once I started. Trethewey beautifully tells the story of the Churchill sisters' lives in the book. Each one led a different and fascinating life. She explored their childhood and how it affected the sisters as adults. Each problem one of the women faced was described with detail, yet grace. I learned so much, and I liked the glimpse inside the more personal side of Winston Churchill's life. The family, while it had its flaws, really came alive in this book, and I could feel the familial bond between the family members. I also liked how Mary, Diana, and Sarah were able to have their sisterhood shown and documented all in one place. Their connections were admirable to read about.
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This was an extremely enjoyable read about the Churchill daughters. I think anyone who’s familiar with history knows the name Winston Churchill, and I’ve read a bit about Clementine but this was really the first I’ve read anything in-depth about their daughters. 

Each of their 3 daughters (Diana, Sarah and Mary) all played an important supporting role to Winston, while each living their own lives. Having read about Winston and Clementine, I wasn’t surprised that their relationship with their mother wasn’t rosy, but it was interesting to read about it within the historical context, and this book does that well. 

I highly recommend this, especially since it was a well written, readable non-fiction that kept the information provided interesting.
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The Churchill sisters by Dr. Rachel Trethewey is an extensively researched informative book. I didn't know that Winston Churchill had so many daughters and a son. I guess he was able to keep his life very private. This is eye opening about their lives and to this day how much of an impact they all left. Not just Winston Churchill. Mary, Randolph, Sarah and Diana were part of a different generation. They also got to see how fast it changes from when they were born. Also Rachel Trethewey used sources that were recently available in archives. Which I thought was amazing. 

I highly recommend it! This Arc was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. A lot of parts it made me tear up or gasp. Lots more but i am not going to spoil it!

See for yourself November 23 2021
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This book was such a pleasure to read.

I hadn't given much thought to Winston Churchill's daughters before being invited to review this title, but isn't that usually the case? Outside of the five doomed wives (and let's face it, surviving number six probably had no easy task on her hands) of King Henry VIII, not much interest is given to the people surrounding well known historical figures (usually men). 

And of course, any one who has done serious historical studies (I'm not expert level, but with degrees in it and having taught the subject, I like to think I have some in depth knowledge), knows the stature and presence of Winston Churchill, one of history's most influential statesmen. But to be honest, I couldn't tell you much about his children.

Dr. Trethewey's wonderfully readable book presents these women in detail and gave so much more insight to not only their lives, but that of Churchill the husband and father and the context of the Edwardian era as well. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any student and lover of history.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Press for inviting me to read this ARC in exchange for a review through NetGalley.
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I have read several books on Winston and Clementine Churchill but this one adds so much depth to the girls and even expounds on Winston’s marriage and child rearing. I truly enjoyed the way this was written by dwelling on each daughter and a bit on Randolph. The research for this story was immense, thorough and accurate. Totally impressive!
The love between this entire family even in the adversity of the public eye, a war going on and living the life of politics did not deter their dedication and loyalty to each other. Winston was quite a character, a great leader along with a wonderful father. Each daughter had their trials and tribulations but this is an honest biography done in a way that each was treated with respect. I highly recommend. 
Received an ARC from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for my unbiased review – This one comes in with 5*****.
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The Churchill Sisters is a great glimpse into the lives of Winston Churchill's three daughters: Diana, Sarah and Mary. What stood out to me was how growing up with one of the most influential politicians in history as a father, left them very protective of  their family. These girls could have easily been 'wild' or arrogant, or entitled (though you could say that of their brother Randolph), instead they we very humble and put family before everything else. 

What I liked:
-Very readable non-fiction
-The author does well giving historical context in various points of the book (ex. Clementine Churchill's decision to have her children raised by nannies instead of by her was very indicative of her upbringing in the Edwardian era). 
-The author also crafted a great picture of each individual Churchill daughter as well as how they interacted as a family.
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I have read quite a bit about the Churchills and I found the emphasis on the daughters is this biography so interesting. Each, in her own way, was important to Winston, in accompanying him and seeing to his needs. Unfortunately, it took a toll on their physical and emotional lives. Nevertheless, they played an important part in the war effort.
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I really didn't know anything about Churchill's personal life or his daughters. This was very interesting and a pretty quick read. The section during the 2nd World War was the most interesting- all of his daughters contributed in different but important ways. Their relationship with their father is very endearing but their relationship with their mother was problematic and seemed to cause all of the daughters their own shared of distress. . I'm not the best review writer and while this was a worthwhile read, the language seemed simplistic. It is filled with anecdotal tidbits but never really gets much below the surface,. You do get enough information to get a sense of each of the daughters but I wanted more. Overall a well written, informative biography of a family you thought you knew. Thanks to NetGalley for the preview copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
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This is such a meticulously researched, yet surprisingly easy to read book. You might expect such a thing to be sort of a drudgery. It was not. Winston Churchill towers over the world’s history during the 1930s and 40s. A great case can be made that he was the most important figure of that time. This is the story of his three daughter who lived to adulthood. They sure were different people and lived different lives. The thread that wove through their lives is that they adored their father. I didn’t know much about them, but Dr. Trethewey dug up a tremendous amount of material on them. They didn’t live easy lives. It was not simple to be in the shadow of Winston Churchill.

I came away considerably better informed than I went into this book. I can definitely recommend this as a worthwhile read.
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Movies and tv shows like “The Crown” have brought Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine to life. And remarkable, commendable and will-lived lives they were. Author Dr. Rachel Trethewey reveals the lives of the great statesman’s daughters in “The Churchill Sisters- The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine's Daughters.” This book is a warm and caring look at the daughters in this extraordinary family. 

“If you hold on, and do your best, all will be well in the end.”

The Churchill children were Diana, Sarah, and Mary (daughter Marigold died as a small child) and a son, Randolph. They were all quite different in temperament, but all were united in the love of their family. Born during times with expectations that were more rigid than now, as children they all blossomed in the warm, creative and high-achieving Churchill family. Winston especially was a caring and loving father figure who nurtured each of his daughters. 

 There are three main parts to the book- the girls’ childhoods, the war years, life after the war. The sisters, who were not especially close to each other, or to their mother Clementine, had good relationships with their father. Of course, they had a ring-side seat to an astounding view of history during World War II. Author Dr. Trethewey writes in an interesting and open way; the boom is well-researched and  also highly readable and enjoyable.  The letters that the family members wrote are fascinating. 

Sadly, Diana and Sarah had many troubles during their adult years. Mary seems to have had the most “normal” life and had a happy family life as well as an interesting public life. Many parts of the story made an impression on me, but one of the stories I loved the most was how Clementine and Mary selected the presentation of their family estate Chartwell, as it became a National Trust home. 

There is a lengthy bibliography. I recommend this book. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance review copy. This is my honest review.
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Winston and Clementine Churchill had three daughters who survived childhood and one who died at a Young age. Diana, Mary, and Sarah each had their own way of navigating society and the world as Winston Churchill's daughters. Churchill was the most influential person in their lives and his relationship with them provided a steady force in their lives but also their need to protect and take care of him throughout their lives. Clementine was not engaged with her young children and it was only when they became adults that she extended a relationship with them. 
Tretheway's book is well-researched and some information is base on new findings. Each of the daughters struggled to become independent women who also felt a great need to protect their father's name and legacy. Their mental and emotional health was an issue for each one of them, especially Sarah and Diana who struggled with love and relationships. 
Recommended for history buff, especially those interested in the Churchill's.
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Because I am a history nerd, I have read several books about Winston Churchill.  He was an interesting and complicated man who lived in interesting and complicated times. I wasn't going to pass this book by since it offered a different way in which to consider Churchill and society during the times when he was politically active. The book did not disappoint, the Churchill sisters left behind quite a trove of material which the author wove into an interesting tale, switching between the sisters as the years progressed. The places where the sister's experiences converged and diverged are interesting and an important part of the way the family functioned. The book also goes into quite a bit of detail about the ways that the sisters were a reflection of society at the time, tensions over the role of women in the home and the workplace for example.

This was a well-researched, very enjoyable history read.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with an advanced copy of this title, this review is my honest feedback.
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THE CHURCHILL SISTERS - Dr. Rachel Trethewey
The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine's Daughters
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-1-250-27239-3 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-250-27240-9 (ebook)
November 2021
Non-Fiction

England - 20th Century

The lives of Sir Winston Churchill's daughters are thoughtfully presented in this well-researched book. The children of this famous man and his beloved wife, Clementine, led very public lives, while trying to maintain private existences. Randolph, the only son, was Winston's pride and joy, but he also had close relationships with his daughters. 

The eldest daughter, Diana, who went by the family nickname of the Gold Cream Kitten, was the first born of the Churchill children. She was the image of her father, which he proudly proclaimed to one and all. Both parents had survived difficult childhoods, so it was not surprising that Clementine had a difficult time after the birth, and, in fact, she went away from home to recover, leaving the baby with a nanny and Winston. More of a hands-on parent, Winston immediately took to rearing his first born. He would prove to be the more dominant figure in his children's lives, although all of them adored their mother. Diana grew into a quiet, reserved young woman, preferring to remain in the background of her marriages. Her first marriage ended in divorce, but she found her true love in her second husband. 

Second born daughter, Sarah, known as the Bumblebee (all of the family had nicknames for everyone), was more outgoing than her older sister. She was named after Winston's most famous female ancestor, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. Sarah was known to be the optimist of the children, always putting a positive spin on anything happening around her. Later in life she became an actress, and was much more independent in her decisions than her siblings. 

Marigold, the Duckadilly, sadly did not live long enough to enjoy life in the Churchill family. She passed away of septicemia at two years old. 

The youngest Churchill daughter, Mary, Baby Bud, was eight years younger than her next oldest sister. Mary was more or less brought up by Clementine's cousin, Maryott Whyte, known as Moppet, who was devoted to the child. Clementine didn't want just any nanny in charge of her youngest child. It was Mary who was the one to move into Downing Street with her parents when Winston became prime minister. Mary served during the war in the Auxilliary Territorial Service, attended several of Winston's wartime conferences as his aide-de-camp, and eventually became an author, documenting family history.

While Winston and Clementine clearly loved their children, they were very much devoted to each other, and their off-spring were well aware of their standing. Family issues, such as divorces, elopements, or political differences may have been handled differently than parents of the twenty-first century might have done. All of the girls were involved in various aspects during the war years, and their support of their father was greatly appreciated by him. 

No one has a perfect family, and certainly, the Churchills were no exception. But the girls were much adored, well educated, and their independent lives eventually accepted by their parents. 

THE CHURCHILL SISTERS is a documentary about an incredible family. Many family and British sources were used in this intricate telling of the lives of  the Churchills.
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