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The Churchills: in Love and War Paperback – 22 May 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (22 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393342255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393342253
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.4 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary S. Lovell was an accountant and company director until she began writing in 1980 following a serious riding accident which left her temporarily disabled. Now an internationally acclaimed biographer, she has written best selling biographies of Beryl Markham, Amelia Earhart, Cynthia Pack, Jane Digby, Sir Richard and Isabel Burton, the Mitford sisters and Bess of Hardwick. Her latest biography is a family saga of the Churchills. Her books have been translated into foreign language editions, in French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Danish and Finnish. Her biography of Amelia Earhart was made into a movie starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere in 2010, and she has four further titles optioned for film treatments. Until 2011 she led reader groups interested in Jane Digby around Syria every year, to follow in the exciting footsteps of this favourite subject of hers. She has recently completed promotional tours in the USA and UK, and is now working on the final chapters of 'the Riviera Set'.

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Meticulously detailed . . . eminently readable. --Walter Olson"

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By Luc Lippens on 29 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great overview of all the family links to Winston Churchill.
Mary Lovell really knows how to keep the reader focused to her book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Family Ties of Historic Achievements, Loyalty, Duty, Mental Depression, and Infidelity 3 May 2011
By Eitic - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
"The Churchills" captures the complex and intense family relationships that nurtured, shaped, inspired and burdened the greatest Briton to ever live. For the reader, like myself, who has read their share of Churchill biographies, and many of the books that he authored himself, you will find Lovell's book to be a must read. Lovell offers facts, anecdotes, and details on family relationships that constitute the landscape of Winston S. Churchill's life, as well as, the exceptional and, at times, outrageous extended family of Churchills by birth and marriage. The crush of debt, spendthrift extravagance, mental depression, suicides, inspired brilliance, career ending misjudgments, infidelities, divorces, religious conversions, extreme political views, and enduring love affairs make up the story of this family, as told by Lovell. Like Churchill himself, the family is larger than life and its story reads like an amazing novel. The reality of this family's story is simply too exceptional to be accepted as plausible fiction. It spans and fully engages every significant event from the age of Victoria to the passing of Kennedy's Camelot. A number of leading personalities and families of Britain, Continental Europe, and America are entwined with the Churchill family in a churning array of in-laws, paramours, and confidants. On that point, I would offer my only criticism. The family relationships, friendships, and multi-generational complexity of names, titles, and divorces would benefit from a more extensive family tree or list of key personalities. The use of first names, nicknames, and titles in the text did send me to the index a number of times to confirm the identity and relationships of the person being referenced. That is a minor complaint and, perhaps, illustrates the detailed and comprehensive history presented by the book. For anyone who enjoyed the movie "The King's Speech" or was fascinated by the recent royal wedding, you will be absorbed by this book in the first chapter. It is akin to the kind of entertaining insight offered of the aristocracy by the TV series Upstairs Downstairs. Of course, the families, traditions and personalities that shaped Churchill's character are now represented by a new generation of aristocracy. Like in the age of Winston, this new generation recently filled Westminster Abbey for the pomp of the latest royal wedding. After reading Lovell's book you may, indeed, appreciate how history repeated itself in the Churchill family. The book may also prompt a prayer of "God save Kate Middleton Windsor".
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The Churchill Saga 17 May 2011
By Eileen Pollock - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another book about Winston Churchill? Do we need yet another? Yes, most certainly, when it's a book about all the Churchills since the first Duke of Marlborough, concentrating on their personal lives. Mary Lovell writes entertainingly, yet the book is extensively footnoted and she even provides explanatory notes to supplement the text. Mostly it's about Winston, and she makes quick work of the generations between the first duke, a brilliant general who was gifted with Blenheim Castle, and Winston's talented father, Randolph, a second son of the seventh Duke.

I have read Martin Gilbert's one volume biography (the official biographer), I'm working my way through Churchill's own memoir of the Second World War (six volumes), and I've read many excellent supplemental books on The Greatest Briton (by vote) by distinguished historians. Lovell's book is for me light reading, but I'm glad to read it. Lovell puts a great deal in context. She relates the accomplishments of the first Duke of Marlborough in a chapter (Winston's own biography of his famous ancestor is two hefty volumes), while giving an amusing picture of his overbearing wife, Sarah, a close confidant of Queen Anne.

It is uplifting to read once again about Winston Churchill, since he was not only a brilliant statesman, but also a highly admirable person. The family motto is "faithful but unfortunate". In Winston's case, he was both faithful and fortunate. Thanks to Mary Lovell for providing this well written, carefully sourced volume.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Magnificent Family Biography 15 May 2011
By John D. Cofield - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Churchill family has contributed three towering figures to British history: John the first Duke of Marlborough, the nineteenth century politician Lord Randolph Churchill, and Sir Winston Churchill, the son of Lord Randolph who dominated early to mid twentieth century British politics. The Churchills have also succeeded in bringing into their bloodline contributions from many beautiful and highly accomplished women like Sarah Jennings, wife of the first Duke; the beautiful Jennie Jerome, wife of Lord Randolph; and Clementine Hozier, Sir Winston's equally redoubtable wife. Scattered among these giants have been many less remarkable Churchills: spendthrift nonentities careless of their heritage and overshadowed by their more impressive kin. Mary Lovell's magnificent family saga reveals the history of the Churchills in both its highs and its lows over the last three centuries.

Lovell begins with a chapter dealing with John and Sarah Churchill, the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, who held great military and political power at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The first Duke's battlefield accomplishments led the British people to bestow Blenheim, one of the great non royal palaces, on him and his descendants (but unfortunately without also bestowing lands capable of producing the wealth needed to maintain it, resulting in Blenheim becoming a huge money pit for generations of Marlboroughs.) Lovell then skims over the next few generations of nonentities to concentrate on the late nineteenth century when financial pressures led two Churchills to marry wealthy Americans. Lord Randolph's wife Jennie Jerome was both beautiful and highly intelligent, qualities she used to help her husband's career immensely before he finally self-destructed. Randolph's brother the Duke of Marlborough made a famously unhappy marriage to Consuelo Vanderbilt, using her money to restore Blenheim but doing little or nothing to help their union succeed. Randolph and Jennie produced Winston Churchill, whose career justly dominates the last half of the book, which reveals that the celebrated wartime leader had almost constant money worries, was a loving but far too indulgent father, and a deeply adoring husband to his beloved Clementine.

This is a long book, but it remained consistently entertaining and fascinating. The Churchills were leaders in Society as well as in politics, and their ups and downs and dealings with a vast array of friends and rivals make it impossible to put the book down at times. Lovell writes clearly, providing many footnotes to better explain some obscure terms or to more clearly identify some of the many people the Churchills dealt with over the years. I enjoyed The Churchills immensely and intend to reread it many times.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent look at the later generations of Churchills 25 July 2011
By Jill Meyer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Lovell takes a reasoned approach to the Churchill family in her new biography, "The Churchills: In Love and War". She begins by writing that she has taken a personal rather than a strictly accomplishment look at the family. This is clear in her book, but she does put everything in context.

While Lovell begins her book with John and Sarah Churchill, builders of Blenheim Palace, most of this very large and readable book is about the generation of Winston's father, Randolf, and his older brother. Their marriages and wives are covered, in the context of Britain (and America) of the time. Both Randolf and his cousin, Charles, 9th Duke of Marlborough, married American "Dollar Princesses", those wealthy American women whose marriages to cash-poor and title-heavy Brits became common in the second half of the 19th century. It was a good deal on both sides economically, but the marriages made were often unhappy and of short duration. In fact, many of the marriages in the Churchill family were not successes; the one good, long-lasting one was between Winston and Clementine Hozier. They were wed 60 years or so and had five children, four of whom lived to adulthood. But of those four, three had relatively unhappy lives and marriages and died relatively young.

But Lovell writes about more than the marriages of the Churchills in the last two hundred years. She gives a good deal of space to non-Winston members of the Churchill family and writes about their position in history and society. She has good footnotes about people or events she mentions that might not be universally known by her readers.

The only topic I think she gives short shrift to is Winston's "Black Dog" of depression. Winston was not the only Churchill to be visited by the "dog" on a regular basis, and I'd love to see someone write on that subject alone: how depression affected the family. I also expected Lovell to write a little more about Pam Digby, Winston's son Randolf's first wife. She was of the famous Digby family and a descendent of Lady Jane Digby, who Lovell wrote a biography of called "A Scandalous Life: The Story of Jane Digby". If, as a reader of this review, you're looking for a great biography of one of the most interesting people in history, look for Lovell's biography of Jane Digby.

If you're looking for a good, interesting, long read, pick up "The Churchills" by Lovell. If you don't like it, you can always use it to balance on top of your head for better posture! It's a large book.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Churchills is a magisterial opus to the tragedies and triumphs of the family of Winston Spencer Churchill 17 Jun 2011
By C. M Mills - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Churchills is a 569 page book dealng with the lives of the most prominent members of the Churchill family. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) has consistently been voted in public opinion polls as the greatest Englishman in history. This standing was achieved throug blood, tears, sweat and toil! Though Sir Winston dominates the book there are many other fascinating Churchill characters who populate its many pages. Among them:
John Churchill (1650-1722) the first Duke of Marlborough who won great renown as a soldier defeating the forces of Louis XIV in the War of Spanish Succession. He and his wife Sarah were a formidable pair who moved in royal circles. Sarah was the closest confidant of Queen Anne until the two had a bitter argument. The Duke built Blenheim Palace which is still in the Churchill family and one of Britain's greatest estates.
These early Churchills are profiled in the first chapter of this book which then moves forward to tell the tale of WSC's parents Randolph (1849-95) and Jennie (1854-1921). Randolph was a brilliant member of the House of Commons who was an eloquent speaker and Conservative Party member. He broke with the Prime Minister and his career was was destroyed. He was a cold and lonely man who had little contact with Winston or Jack who were his two sons. He was unfaithful to Jennie. He died from what was probably syphillis in 1895. WSC wished to emulate his father by launching a political career.
Jennie was the lovely American born daughter of the wealthy Jerome family of New York. She had countless lovers (which probably included King Edward VII) and married thre times. She was active in war work during the Boer War and World War I.
WSC served Great Britain as a graduate of Sandhurst; participant in the northwest Indian wars, war against the Mahdi in Egypt and Boer Wars. During the Boer War he was captured making a daring escape that won him fame. He wed Clementine Hozier in 1908. WSC was a faithful husband and a loving father to his children. His family was often beset with money problems. Despite the loss of his reputation after the disastrous Dardanelles Campaign in World War I he redeemed himself by serving in the trenches in France. Between wars Winston wrote books. He won the Nobel Prize for Literatre in 1953 for his multvolume history of World War II. WSC painted for leisure and lectured. He was also a member of te House of Commons. His leadership as Prime Minister in World War II through his peerless oratory and courage kept England fighting until victory was achieved. Sir Winston served again as Prime Minister in the 1950s dying in 1965. His speeches are unmatched in their eloquent simplicity and power. WSC was a genius as well as being a kind man!
Clementine Churchill (1885-1977) was a lovely, quiet and loving wife. She and Winston were oftn disappointed by their children
Diane (a suicide); Randolph (a womanizer and heavy drinker); Sarah an actress who was an alcoholic who had many husbands and dealt with depression. Mary who wed Lord Soames is still alive and has lived an exemplary life. Daughter Marigold died as a baby. WSC was fond of Pamela Digby Churchill who was briefly wed to Randolph and the mother of WSC' namesake Winston. She would later marry Averill Harriman.
Consuelo and Sunny Vanderbilt are also given many pages. Sunny was the cousin of Winston. Consuelo was an American and a Vanderbilt. The two divorced and had many lovers.
This book is not a polical or military biography of WSC! Countless books are available for this approach to the great man's life. Instead, Mary S. Lovell (the author of such fine biographies as that on the Mitford sisters) has written an intimate and frank account of the Churchill family which will keep the reader glued to the page! Gossipy but factual this book will add to one's knowledge of the Churchill clan. As a fan of Churchill for many years I found this book to be excellent reading!
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