Cover Image: The Churchill Sisters

The Churchill Sisters

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Member Reviews

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

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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Date reviewed/posted: August 12, 2021
Publication date: November 23, 2021

When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you have personally decided to basically continue on #maskingup and #lockingdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #fourthwave (#fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. Plus it is hot as all heck and nothing is more appealing than sitting in front of a fan with a kindle!

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

As complex in their own way as their Mitford cousins, Winston and Clementine Churchill’s daughters each had a unique relationship with their famous father. Rachel Trethewey's biography, The Churchill Sisters, tells their story.

Bright, attractive and well-connected, in any other family the Churchill girls – Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary – would have shone. But they were not in another family, they were Churchills, and neither they nor anyone else could ever forget it. From their father – ‘the greatest Englishman’ – to their brother, golden boy Randolph, to their eccentric and exciting cousins, The Mitford Girls, they were surrounded by a clan of larger-than-life characters who often saw them overlooked. While Marigold died too young to achieve her potential, the other daughters lived lives full of passion, drama and tragedy.

Diana, intense and diffident; Sarah, glamorous and stubborn; Mary, dependable yet determined – each so different but each imbued with a sense of responsibility toward each other and their country. Far from being cosseted debutantes, these women were eyewitnesses at some of the most important events in world history, at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Yet this is not a story set on the battlefields or in Parliament; it is an intimate saga that sheds light on the complex dynamics of the family set against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.

Drawing on previously unpublished family letters from the Churchill archives, The Churchill Sisters brings Winston’s daughters out of the shadows and tells their remarkable stories for the first time.

You hear of the Madcap-Mitfords all the time, but Winston's girls are often left out in the shadow of Randolph (oh, his wife Pamela was a hoot...) and I enjoyed every word of this book.  How about the Complicated-Churdchills for their name?  The characters are well presented and the book was fascaintng and utterly readable...if you know someone who loved history, wrap this up in a festive tea towel (one can never have too many tea towels!) and gift it for a Happy Christmas.

(weren't the Mitford SISTERS, not cousins????)

I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames!

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶 (the closest that I could get to a bulldog!)
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Writing: 3/5 Coverage: 4/5 Accessibility: 5/5

This is the story of Winston Churchill’s three daughters:  Diana, Sarah, and Mary. The author pulls together a pretty decent narrative from personal diaries, articles, and massive amounts of correspondence between family members and friends.  Unlike fictionalized history (which I hate), she never pretends to know what a character is thinking or feeling, although she does occasionally opine about things that “must have been difficult” or provides context about what kind of behavior was “normal” for that time and place.

I found this easy and interesting to read.  I did have to ask myself what made it interesting.  While Sarah was a reasonably well known actress, neither of the other sisters accomplished anything particularly spectacular.  It was kind of like watching Downton Abbey — these sisters were able to lead very interesting lives because their father was who he was and we get to live vicariously.  And they were interesting lives!  They each were able to travel with him (often his wife was unavailable), met many heads of state including FDR and “Uncle” Joe Stalin, and be present for some important pieces of history such as the Yalta conference.

There was plenty of discussion of psychology and the changing role for women in society.  Plenty of heartbreak and insight into how the other half lived and plenty of factual tidbits that were surprising, yet not important enough to bring out in more official histories (eg the squalor including bedbugs at the Yalta conference — yuck!)

Worth reading.
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the gifted copy.

Growing up, I knew that Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of England during the Second World War and that his mother was an American.  I remembered that he called his children "kittens".

This biography/memoir focuses on the children of Clementine and Winston Churchill, especially the daughters.  I learned many things that I did not know before.

Highly recommended for readers of British History.
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Winston and Clementine Churchill had four daughters. While one died in childhood, the rest went on to lead colorful lives and play important parts in their father's.

This is an interesting joint biography of Winston Churchill's daughters. While I had never paid much attention to them before, I learned they led quite fascinating lives, doing things such as playing important parts in the war effort. I liked that the author balanced the sisters' personal lives with placing them in the larger context of time as women in the public sphere. The author's writing style reminded me of listening to a clear and engaging history lecture.

However, I did wish that the book went more in-depth - the short length meant that many important parts of the sisters' lives were skimmed over or underdeveloped. This book felt more like a good launch-point to start learning about the Churchill sisters than anything very comprehensive.
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The Churchill Sisters by Dr. Rachel Trethewey is a great nonfiction that delves into the fabulous and fascinating lives of the daughters of the infamous Winston Churchill. I really, really enjoyed this book.

I have read a great deal on many of the last Prime Ministers of England, Churchill included, and I have also read a biography of Clementine, so I knew I had to read more about his children. I knew from reading information from these various sources in addition to details concerning the Yalta Conference that Churchill’s family were a vital part of his existence. I also knew that there had to be more that went on behind the scenes then what was coveted. This book helped fill in those gaps for me. 

I loved learning so much about the eventful lives of Mary, Sarah, and Diana. Sure there were things that I already knew, but that was in the minority, and the way the author was able to present her research in an appropriately paced and effective yet smooth narrative that kept me engaged, entertained, and not overwhelmed was just perfect. It was fascinating to see how each came from a similar home life, yet became different. It was great to see how each woman came into their own, and how their childhoods affected each differently. It was also interesting to see how each contributed to their own parents’ lives. This is the first book I have read that was all-inclusive of these siblings and it was perfectly written and well-researched. 

I highly recommend it.

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
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