The Churchills: In Love and War

The Churchills: In Love and War

4.0 9
by Mary S. Lovell
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) was a soldier of such genius that a lavish palace, Blenheim, was built to honor his triumphs. Succeeding generations of Churchills sometimes achieved distinction but also included profligates and womanizers, and were saddled with the ruinous upkeep of Blenheim. The family fortunes were revived in the nineteenth century by the…  See more details below

Overview

The first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) was a soldier of such genius that a lavish palace, Blenheim, was built to honor his triumphs. Succeeding generations of Churchills sometimes achieved distinction but also included profligates and womanizers, and were saddled with the ruinous upkeep of Blenheim. The family fortunes were revived in the nineteenth century by the huge dowries of New York society beauties Jennie Jerome (Winston's mother) and Consuelo Vanderbilt (wife to Winston's cousin).

Mary S. Lovell brilliantly recounts the triumphant political and military campaigns, the construction of great houses, the domestic tragedies, and the happy marriage of Winston to Clementine Hosier set against the disastrous unions of most of his family, which ended in venereal disease, papal annulment, clinical depression, and adultery.

The Churchills were an extraordinary family: ambitious, impecunious, impulsive, brave, and arrogant. Winston—recently voted "The Greatest Briton"—dominates them all. His failures and triumphs are revealed in the context of a poignant and sometimes tragic private life.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Having written about the rebellious Mitfords (The Sisters) and daring aviator and world-traveler Beryl Markham (Straight on Til Morning), prolific bestselling biographer Mary S. Lovell now takes on her most challenging subject yet: the Churchills. Beginning her narrative history with their military hero progenitor the first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), she introduces us to generations of talented Churchill offspring, including several notable spendthrifts and womanizers. American readers will be particularly fascinated by how the family's fortunes were rescued in the 19th century by marriages to two Manhattan heiresses. And, of course, Sir Winston takes center stage.... Epic; engaging; primed for Father's Day readership.

Publishers Weekly
Lovell's previous biographical subjects, including Jane Digby and the Mitford sisters, connecting the upper classes of England and their long lists of lovers, mistresses, and scandals to the descendents of the Dukes of Marlborough, can now be seen as little more than preambles to her latest epic work. Preserving Blenheim, John Churchill's Oxfordshire palace built by a "grateful nation" has been the primary goal of the succeeding dukes over its 300-year history. But the Churchills were the first to take advantage of the "dollar princesses" by wedding American heiresses to preserve the immense and very expensive estate. Jenny Jerome did bring capital to her love match with Randolph, but his nephew, Sunny, the ninth duke, hit the jackpot with Consuelo Vanderbilt and her vast fortune. Alas, money and love don't always go hand in hand; few of the Ducal marriages were happy. While Lovell deals with each of the generations from the first Duke of Marlborough through present day, her focus is on Jennie Jerome Churchill and her son, Winston, thanks in part to the plentiful journals they kept. These subjects have been sufficient fodder for numerous biographies but Lovell (The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family) deftly sorts through the existing facts to create a well-researched and gossipy book. (May)
Library Journal
Although the central character here may be Winston Churchill, British biographer Lovell (A Rage To Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton) essentially offers a popular biography of several members of the 19th- and 20th-century Churchill family, with less coverage beforehand on the earlier Churchills, such as the original Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Lovell tends to be drawn to strong female characters, and her new book is no exception; she devotes significant attention to American heiresses Jennie Jerome (Winston Churchill's mother) and Consuelo Vanderbilt (his cousin by marriage). Lovell's writing style will keep general readers wanting more, and although the information on Churchill relatives is sometimes scandalous, her treatment of Winston Churchill himself is worshipful. All in all, Lovell delves into the personal rather than the political. Ending her coverage more or less with Winston's and then his wife Clementine's death, she uses mainly published sources to describe a remarkable family that was also quite ordinary in its dysfunction and foibles. VERDICT For a more political look at Winston Churchill, readers should turn to Geoffrey Best's Churchill: A Study in Greatness. Lovell's book is recommended to general readers, especially lovers of accessible historical biography, rather than Churchill specialists.—Maria Bagshaw, Ecolab, St. Paul
Walter Olson
Meticulously detailed on figures like the ever fascinating Churchill daughter-in-law Pamela Harriman, Lovell softens her focus when it comes to the great man himself. Drink and depression remain mostly offstage. Nor does she probe how the clan’s absentee approach to child rearing might have related to the unhappy adult life of three of Winston and Clementine’s four grown children. Lovell steers even farther clear of the revisionist literature on both the left and the libertarian right that paints Churchill as a warmonger and political opportunist.
—The New York Times Book Review
Booklist
“Famous lives ever fascinate, and does Lovell ever deliver.”
New York Times Book Review
Meticulously detailed
. . . eminently readable.— Walter Olson
From the Publisher
"Lovell's writing style will keep [listeners] wanting more." —Library Journal
Walter Olson - New York Times Book Review
“Meticulously detailed. . . eminently readable.”

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393062304
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/09/2011
Pages:
624
Sales rank:
1,263,750
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Lovell's writing style will keep [listeners] wanting more." —-Library Journal

Meet the Author

Mary S. Lovell is the author of the best-selling biographies The Sisters (about the Mitford family), Straight on Till Morning (about Beryl Markham) and The Churchills. She lives in England.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >