Cover Image: The Churchill Sisters

The Churchill Sisters

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I didn't really know much about Winston Churchill other than the fact that he was the Prime Minister of the UK, and I certainly didn't know anything about his family.

This book is about the daughters of Winston Churchill, how different they all were from one another, their almost nonexistent relationship with their mother, and their devotion to their father.

If you really enjoy facts on historical figures, then this book is for you! This book is so jam packed with facts that it kind of takes the enjoyment out of it. I did like getting to know and learn about these women, but it felt like a book that you were made to read in school -- lots of info and filler.

Unfortunately, I am not a history buff so this book just wasn't for me, but I am certain that anyone who is a fan of Churchill and/or loves history would really love this one!
Was this review helpful?
I've always admired Winston Churchill, and his key role in saving the Western World. Without his irrational (according to many politicians of  his time ) resistance and refusal of agreeing to negotiations with Third Reich the history would have look completely different.
I was aware of the important role of his family during the darkest time for United Kingdom during the WWII but I realized, when reading "The Churchill Sisters: The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine's Daughters" , how little I knew about lives of daughters of Winston Churchill.
This thoroughly researched and well written book offers  many details and give more light to relationship between all family members.
It is must read for everybody interested in the subject.
Thank you to the publisher and the NetGalley for the copy of the book.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed reading The Churchill Sisters: The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine's Daughters
by Rachel Trethewey. I am giving it four stars.
Was this review helpful?
Full admission of guilt- I knew really nothing about Winston, Clementine, or the rest of the Churchill family save for what was shown on The Crown. I tend not to wade into politics, and obviously that is what he is known for. However, this biography of his daughters is one of the most interesting books published in 2021.

Much like the Mitford sisters, each of Winston and Clementine’s children were radically different. Their daughters in particular took very different routes in life, and had very different relationships with their parents. I found their life trajectories the most interesting aspect of the book, though! Many people will be interested in their service during the Second World War, but I found their lives after far more interesting. Specifically, Sarah’s career as an actress was fascinating, and I think if you enjoy the Golden Age of Cinema, you will love reading about her.

Note: this is more of an academic biography- there are footnotes to your heart’s content. However, it still reads like fiction, and you don’t need any sort of background to enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?
While much of Winston Churchill's life and impact on world history is common knowledge, this book focuses on his daughters. I'm so glad that the publisher brought this one to my attention! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary. While I've read a bit about Mary in other books focusing on Winston Churchill during WWII, I admit that I didn't even know before starting this one that he had four daughters and a son. This covers the full lives of all four daughters - and while the WWII years do have their own section, before and after the war have a similar amount of time and detail spent on them. 

This is the kind of nonfiction book that I just love! My husband got whole sections read aloud to him if he happened to be in the room with me while I read - and got chased down for some parts if he wasn't by me. I enjoyed sharing what I learned and really enjoyed reading this! I appreciate the amount of research that went into this one and really like Trethewey's writing style. This is the kind of nonfiction that reads like fiction - it's a compelling read that I had a hard time putting down. I really didn't know much going in, so this entire book absolutely fascinated me! I enjoyed this quite a bit and look forward to recommending it to friends and family!
Was this review helpful?
Rachel Trethewey’s work is a well-rounded examination of the lives, loves, and tragedies of Winston Churchill’s daughters: Diana, Sarah, Marigold, and Mary. We know so much about their father, but how much is actually discussed about his daughters? Unsurprisingly, not much. They’re left off to the side despite becoming key players in the course of 20th century history. 

I genuinely enjoyed reading this text. It took me back to my academic roots and love of history. The reality of studying women’s’ history is that it’s too often viewed through the lens of the more powerful men around them. Trethewey turned this idea on its head to study Churchill via his daughters’ exceedingly turbulent lives. And my goodness were each of them interesting in their own right, especially the story of tragic Marigold. 

While being a traditional historical text, “The Churchill Sisters” is far from perfect. It’s very much a broad overview into the women’s lives, occasionally feeling entirely too rushed. Certain events are brushed over in favor of discussing a different talking point. My biggest pacing qualm though, rests with the uneven coverage each of the girls receives. While Diana plays a key part at the beginning, her story falls to the wayside towards the middle.  For much of the war years, it felt like only Sarah and Mary’s experiences mattered.  And as the book approaches the end of her life, it feels almost to come out of no where without previous discussions of her ongoing personal issues. 

I do wish there was a bit more of a critical analysis of the women themselves and their parents. Some passages felt too sympathetic or apologetic, especially regarding Winston and Clementine’s parenting styles. While we live in a much different time, some of their decisions left long lasting negative effects on their children and deserve more than an acknowledgment of being problematic. 

I do highly recommend this for those readers who enjoy wartime womens’ history and Winston Churchill. Examining his experiences via his family does give us new insight to the man himself and just how important they were to modern British history.
Was this review helpful?
Winston Churchill, one of the most exceptional men of the 20th century, a giant during World War II, and a person that I have admired and enjoyed studying over the years.  While I knew that Winston had daughters I never delve much deeper than surface information, which is why I was excited to read The Churchill Sisters.

Dr. Rachel Trethewey did an astounding job on this deep dive into the four Churchill daughters.  An incredibly thorough and well researched book, The Churchill Sisters is chock full of quotes and first hand knowledge that goes with the flow of the narrative and reads more like a historical fiction with its fluidity.

The Bibliography is astounding, with page after page of sources and notes, not to mention interviews with actual living relatives that gives this text that much more credibility.  There is also an index in the back to help reference a particular person or subject quickly, which I greatly appreciated, especially when I went back to go over a certain subject to ponder and couldn’t remember exactly where I read it.

The Churchill Sisters takes you to the beginning of Winston and Clementine’s relationship, with details of their upbringings, then the details of each daughter's births and their upbringings.  The rest of the book goes through each of their unique stories mingled and mixed throughout the decades with such great detail there were moments I found myself lost in this past world.

One thing I never realized in my studies of Winston Churchill was just how codependent his wife and daughters were to him.  It was never a secret where their loyalty lied, but I never knew it was to such an extent.  I have always been fascinated with the magnificent Winston Churchill but never realized his family was just as fascinating as the man himself.

The author states in the introduction that this  is a true love story, showing the undying love and  loyalty manifested between Churchill and his daughters, and I quite agree, though this love story is a unique one.  I have a close relationship with my own father but reading the almost obsessive devotion these three had with their dad was admirable at times, and  cringy and uncomfortable at other times.   I admire a family that is close, but there is a fine line between close-knit and codependent, and this line was quite blurry between Churchill and his girls. 

Finally, I must mention a few subjects that could be triggering for some.  First there is depression and mental health discussed at length throughout the story, due to almost everyone dealing with what Winston called “the Black Dog.”  It is a subject that is heartbreaking yet relatable, as many are affected by mental health issues in one way or another.  I myself have diseases in my own family  but, though I am well versed in this subject,  it didn’t change the fact that these parts were, at times, difficult for me to read.  If you are sensitive to this subject be forewarned.

There are also escapisms and addictions, like alcoholism, as each member of the Churchill family dealt  with tough situations, such as deaths and broken relationships, which one daughter in particular was almost continuously haunted by.  There is also suicides and deaths that also could be triggering for some, but these are just the facts, and the details about each death are brief and respectful.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed The Churchill Sisters, and cannot recommend highly enough.  It helped me understand Winston Churchill on a deeper level, and made my appreciation grow.  I now truly believe that he was an incredible man thanks to the women that stood behind him and supported him his entire life.
Was this review helpful?
Books about women during World War II are some of my favorite books to read. This was such a fascinating and empowering time, especially for women in Britain who went to work on ack-ack guns and in covert operations. Who knew that Winston Churchill’s own daughters were some of these brave women? In Trethewey’s book, I loved learning more about his extraordinary daughters who were their father’s confidantes, advisors, and pride and joy. 

From their idyllic days at their country home of Chartwell to their travels with the Prime Minister to storied political conferences throughout the war, these three women were fierce, determined, and loyal - to their father and their country.

Trethewey does a great job at describing the women and their personalities. I felt heartbroken when their lives didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. Even though they were famous, they weren’t protected from tragedy.

This book is one of my top nonfiction reads in 2021!
Was this review helpful?
The Churchill Sisters, by Dr. Rachel Trethewey, tells the story of Winston Churchill’s daughters, from birth to death.  Although each of the three (the fourth daughter died in early childhood) achieved a level of success in their chosen endeavors, the Churchill family struggled with a variety of mental challenges.  In addition, Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest statesman of his century, was the sun around which his family circled.  Although demanding much of his wife and children, Sir Winston emerges as a loving and caring father.  Nonetheless, the demands of duty for both the parents and children often threatened to overwhelm them.

Generally, the book was well researched and attributed.  The early section describing the daughters’ childhoods was a bit overladen with speculation as to what was thought or felt. I suspect that there was far less source material for this time.  There are parts of this story that are indeed sad.  Still, I ended up most impressed with the family as an entity, and its commitment to duty, achievement, and support for one another.  

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read a digital ARC.  I learned a lot about English values and family life, and of course, Winston Churchill.

I rate this as 4.5 stars, rounded up.
Was this review helpful?
Winston and Clementine Churchill had 5 children, Randolph and 4 girls, Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary. 

This book, by Dr. Rachel Trethewey, is an intimate and detailed depiction of the daughter’s lives, with, particular attention paid to, the contributions made by both Winston and Clementine to their daughter’s lives. Clementine struggled in her relationships with her daughters (mostly), whereas, Winston was a much more reliable (consistent, and positive) father. 

Because their surname was Churchill, the bar was set high from the outset. Winston Churchill as much as he wanted to (and tried), was unable to save his daughters from their individual fates. It was shocking (for me) to read about the many disappointments and tragedies the Churchills faced 😢. Their name did not spare them. Nonetheless, there were also happy, proud and successful contibutions made by Churchill’s daughters, in politics and theater and philanthropy. 

This is a fascinating look into the lives of Churchill’s Daughters. I accompanied the book with the audiobook, narrated by @realjulietstevenson (loved it!). 

Thank you #netgalley and @stmartinspress for the ebook, and for the audiobook, in return for my honest review. #5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you 🙏🏻 @meeshmush.
Was this review helpful?
Rachel Trethewey has chronicled the life of Winston Churchill through the eyes of his daughters and wife Clementine. This well researched book humanizes Churchill in a way that gave more clarity to his personality. 
His family was immensely important to him, and their support was critical throughout his career. Although surrounded by wealth, royalty and pomp, the family had its own tragedies. Each of the daughters were different, but all were unerring in their love and support of the most influential man of the time. Well written, well researched and immensely interesting.
My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced readers copy of this book. The views expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
When it comes to picking a book, I typically gravitate towards historical fiction around the WWII era. Choosing a nonfiction book covering some of the same time period was a different choice, but I am glad I chose this one. Throughout school we of course learn about the important figures of history, however we don’t spend any time on their families and the things that make them more than just a political figure. I felt that this book was very interesting and obviously well researched. I pretty much knew nothing about the Churchill family prior to reading and this book painted a robust picture of the family. I felt that I could relate to his daughters on various different levels. Sometimes nonfiction works can drag on, but I felt that the author did a great job of keeping the chapters succinct while remaining informative. If you are interested in learning more about the Churchill family, I recommend this book by Rachel Trethewey. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read an advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
What fascinating lives! Trethewey brought this family to life and I felt that I knew each of them well. She took a very balanced view, allowing their strengths and faults to shine through equally. The book was filled with previously unpublished letters written between the family and it was enlightening to read their own words. I enjoyed seeing history from their unique point of view—I was pleasantly surprised at how unputdownable it was. It did end rather abruptly. I was reading on kindle and was shocked when it ended and the rest of the book was footnotes and bibliography. Also, I was reading an advanced reader copy so I hope they added photos to the final printing—I found myself googling constantly to see what they looked like.
Was this review helpful?
Rachel Trethewey uses previously unpublished letters from the Churchill archives to tell the story of the Churchill sisters in the aptly named biography, The Churchill Sisters. The four girls – Diana, Sarah, Marigold, and Mary – each had a distinctive personality and each had a unique relationship with both their mother and their more famous father. Marigold died young and had little time to reach her own potential. The other three girls, performed supportive duties for their father which sometimes seemed easier than finding significant lives of their own. 

In keeping with the roles expected at the time, their brother Randolph had higher expectations as the only male. Yet, the sisters seemed to have greater potential. Diana probably could have been a political figure on her own but she wound up supporting not only her father but her husband in a traditional female role. Mary took on a typical role of putting her family first and becoming a public figure in her own right late in life. Sarah, not so bound by convention, became an actress and pursued her career in America. 

For the history buff who also likes human interest and the intertwining of public and family life of the famous, The Churchill Sisters delves into the personal family life of Winston and Clementine Churchill and their children. It focuses on the daughters but also includes a set of eccentric cousins and world events from places like Yalta and Potsdam. Their story includes wars, suicides, and warm family times. This is written to appeal to those who like a traditional well-researched biography.
Was this review helpful?
For those of us who have long admired Winston Churchill, it was enlightening to learn more about his family. Winston Churchill, while being a world leader, was a loving and involved father with all his children. His wife, Clementine was a product of her time, leaving the child rearing to the care of nannies and other family help. Winston was not afraid to include his children when he was meeting with government heads or visiting statesmen. As such, they grew up seeing the world through their own eyes. They each took that knowledge and used it in their own lives. The biography covered the years from roughly 1900 (Diana, the eldest, was born in 1909) up through the death of the youngest daughter in 2014. Trethewey's research task was immense, and she had access to many personal letters and memorabilia which previously had been unavailable. 

The only son, Randolph, proved never to measure up to his father, and the three surviving daughters (a fourth daughter died in early childhood), Diana, Mary and Sarah, were subject to having themselves compared at every turn to their illustrious father. This helped them in some ways while hindering them in other ways. 

A worthwhile read for those interested in the Churchill family.
Was this review helpful?
My obsession with Winston Churchill continues! Just when I thought I had viewed his contributions to World War II at total length, this book comes along to explore even more. I’ve read about Mary’s presence at Chequers and her other war work but have yet to come across anything else that focuses on all of the contributions the Churchill women made to the war effort. 
I loved reading about the tenacity of these women and their drive to work hard without any handouts or special treatment because of who their father was. I especially liked that this book was written with Churchill’s career details running in the background, almost like it was adding another layer to a story that many people know well. The research and details that went into this book were phenomenal and I felt as though this made it an easy read that felt like historical fiction!
Was this review helpful?
Princess Fuzzypants here:  Three sisters, so very different yet close, shared  all the joys and trials and tribulations of being the children of the most important man of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill.  His daughters adored and admired him and tried so hard to measure up.  But as his son, Randolph proved time and again, the shadow he cast was one that could not be escaped and comparisons were certainly not going to turn out in their favour.  All children of famous parents carry a burden and an expectation both for themselves and of themselves by others.

Churchill was a loving father.  While he was not often around, nor in the style of the day was Clemmie, when he was with them, he focused his attention on them and was approachable, fun and stimulating.  They travelled the globe with him, watching how the world saw him.  Is it any wonder they developed a hero worship.  Like their mother, much of their lives were devoted to him, even after marriages and even children.  And each, in their own way, would have been seen as remarkable women.  It was both a gift and a curse to stand in his reflected glory.

There was first born, Diana, shy and insecure, often at odds with her mother, she chose the most “normal” of lifestyles.  Being the wife of an ambitious politician precluded what we might deem as normal but she was as content as she would ever be as a wife and mother.  Sadly, in the end, it was not enough.

Then there was Sarah, perhaps Winston’s favourite “wild child”.  The entertainer who could charm and delight on stage and screen.  Never as confident as she seemed, she struggled to find happiness and peace in a number of ill-fated marriages and affairs.  Her red hair was a symbol of her fiery personality but like so many bright stars, when she dimmed it was tragic.  She too had a sad end.

Finally, there was Mary, the youngest, and the child who reaped the most attention from both parents and who grew up strong and secure.  She lived to a ripe old age, honoured for her own accomplishments, she helped maintain the memories of her family.  She, like her sisters, was an outstanding woman but unlike them, she was able to find a happy ever after.

This is a fascinating inside look at the tight knit family whose lives played out in the public eye.  It is written with great sensitivity and compassion.  It is a must for admirers of Churchill as it gives a different view of the man that reinforces his reputation as both a human being and a leader.  Five purrs and two paws up.
Was this review helpful?
Courtesy of Netgalley I received the ARC of The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey. This well researched book about the Churchills  was absorbing, compelling, and enlightening. While providing insight into the family dynamics, Dr. Trethewey wrote about young women imbued with a sense of responsibility to Britain and to each other.
Was this review helpful?
Very interesting and very readable story of Winston Churhill's daughters.  Although I've read a few histories of Britain in WWII and of Churchill himself, the daughters were just shadowy figures to me.  This made them each individuals with triumphs and tragedies.
Was this review helpful?
I’ve read a lot about Winston Churchill (The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by Boris Johnson, Kindle Deal of the Day: Churchill: Walking With Destiny only $1.99, #NetGalley #KindleReview Churchill: An Illustrated Life by Brenda Ralph Lewis, as well as a few biographies about his wife Clementine, especially Mary’s biography of her mother (Amazon) as well as her own memoir, A Daughter’s Tale. Then there was the historical fiction novel Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict that included most of the facts gleaned from Mary’s biography. I’ve also seen many documentaries about Churchill and if they were produced long enough ago, their daughter Mary is interviewed. So I knew quite a bit about the Churchills, but am always curious to learn more. I was offered an ARC of The Churchill Sisters from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I read biographies of famous people, I also try to concentrate on what they were like with their family. Sometimes biographers barely mention that and only concentrate on the career successes and failures. However, with some of the Churchill biographies, I found details that said that they were both good parents in their own way. Clementine was remote in an Edwardian England upper crust society sort of way, but grew closer to her children as they got older. Winston was said to be a good father whenever he was present, which unfortunately wasn’t often in the early years. He’s the one who got down on the floor and played with his little “ducklings.”

The Churchill Sisters (Amazon) explores the lives of the four daughters of Winston and Clementine: Diana, Sarah, Marigold, and Mary. As I mentioned, I read Mary’s very enlightening memoir a few years ago, and she painted a picture of a good upbringing. As the youngest child, separated in age by quite a few years, her upbringing was much different than the upbringing of her sisters and brother. They did not have the same loving and stable household.

The older children went through a series of mediocre nannies. Clementine often couldn’t handle the stress of raising young children, even with help, and would go abroad on vacation for weeks or months. Winston, too, when he wasn’t working, would take vacations away from the kids. It was during one these breaks from the children that Winston and Clementine, vacationing together, found out their daughter, Marigold, who was about two and a half years old, was seriously ill. They hurried home, but they had been alerted too late by an inexperienced nanny who let Marigold get very sick before summoning them. Marigold died. Winston and Clementine were bereft, and Clementine swore that things would be different for the baby she carried at the time, Mary. Mary had a loving nanny named Moppet that stayed with the family until Mary was grown up, providing love and a sense of security the older children did not enjoy.

One thing the book does well is show how hard the daughter’s helped out during World War II. They actually did war work and did it rather well. The young women were all stationed close to home, and were often guests of their parents. One funny story is how Sarah was working with classified information, and Winston made a statement regarding the war effort, and Sarah politely corrected him based upon the information she knew. Then Winston ended up telling Eleanor Roosevelt, who told a reporter, and Sarah was supposed to be reprimanded, until her bosses found out it was her father was the one who leaked the information.

The older girls had issues and mental health issues, and turned to drink just as their brother, Randolph did. Sarah had a career as an actress as a dancer, her highlight was appearing in the MGM Musical Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire (Amazon Prime Video). She married several times but never had children. Diana was married late by the day’s standards and had three children. Her husband held some political offices as appointed by Winston, and did well, and Diana has an astute political mind, but did not want to run for office herself. Besides, for the time, it would have been very uncommon.

Both Diana and Sarah (and Randolph, too, for that matter) died young. Diana took her own life, without warning when she seemed to have her life together at last, and Sarah died from complications of alcoholism. Only Mary, the youngest, most secure, most grounded, lived a full and mostly happy life with her husband Christopher Soames and their five children.

This was a very accurate and enlightening biography of Winston’s and Clementine’s daughters, and I’m glad I read it. It was well-written and I highly recommend it.
Was this review helpful?