The Churchills: In Love and War MP3 CD – 9 May 2011
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An absorbing goodread even for folks who don t typically indulge in history. . . . Lovell swriting style will keep general readers wanting more.
Famous lives everfascinate, and does Lovell ever deliver.
Meticulously detailed . . . eminently readable. --Walter Olson"
Meticulously detailed. . . eminently readable. --Walter Olson"
Famous lives ever fascinate, and does Lovell ever deliver.
An absorbing good read even for folks who don t typically indulge in history. . . . Lovell s writing style will keep general readers wanting more."
Meticulously detailed. . . eminently readable.--Walter Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Mary S. Lovell's best-selling biographies include Straight on Till Morning (Beryl Markham) and The Sisters (the Mitford family). She lives in England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mary Lovell really knows how to keep the reader focused to her book
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
Mary Lovell says she chose the first and last Churchills as the focus of her book just because of the sheer volume of information and because these political Churchills had the most influence on history. If the title implies that it's an exhaustive study of all the Churchills, that's forgiveable because what's there is so good. The doomed Randolph and stunning Jennie who shamefully neglected their children Jennie, the awful marriage between poor little rich girl Consuelo Vanderbilt and Sunny Marlborough that saved Blenheim Palace The Glitter and the Gold, Duchess Gladys and her pack of dogs using Blenheim as a kennel, Winston's escape from the Boers and subsequent role as saviour of Britain--these people are larger than life and Ms. Lovell does them justice.
In the Kindle edition, the pictures are difficult to find without a location search. A minor quibble.