Reading Sonia Purnell's study of Clementine Churchill's life one is made aware of quite how far Clementine Churchill has dropped out of public awareness. Wrongly as we quickly learn as she was Winston Churchill's helpmeet and supporter, advising and helping, she was a superb hostess, a tireless worker for charity and good causes, a woman remembered and respective by nearly everyone she met. Her rackety upbringing will be a revelation for anyone new to the Churchill story as will the story of her marriage to Winston, her rivals in love and her own doubts for her future happiness. Churchill was quoted as saying he couldn't have won the Second World War without her and in First Lady we learn how this true marriage of love and mind came about and carried through to the end.
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Without Churchill's inspiring leadership Britain could not have survived its darkest hour and repelled the Nazi menace. Without his wife Clementine, however, he might never have become Prime Minister. By his own admission, the Second World War would have been 'impossible without her'. Clementine was Winston's emotional rock and his most trusted confidante; not only was she involved in some of the most crucial decisions of war, but she exerted an influence over her husband and the Government that would appear scandalous to modern eyes. Yet her ability to charm Britain's allies and her humanitarian efforts on the Home Front earned her deep respect, both behind closed doors in Whitehall and among the population at large. That Clementine should become Britain's 'First Lady' was by no means pre-ordained. Born into impecunious aristocracy, her childhood was far from gilded. Her mother was a serial adulteress and gambler, who spent many years uprooting her children to escape the clutches of their erstwhile father, and by the time Clementine entered polite society she had become the target of cruel snobbery and rumours about her parentage. In Winston, however, she discovered a partner as emotionally insecure as herself, and in his career she found her mission. Her dedication to his cause may have had tragic consequences for their children, but theirs was a marriage that changed the course of history. Now, acclaimed biographer Sonia Purnell explores the peculiar dynamics of this fascinating union. From the personal and political upheavals of the Great War, through the Churchills' 'wilderness years' in the 1930s, to Clementine's desperate efforts to preserve her husband's health during the struggle against Hitler, Sonia presents the inspiring but often ignored story of one of the most important women in modern history.
'Both scrupulous and fair-minded, Sonia Purnell has done her subject proud in this eye-opening and engrossing account of the strong-willed and ambitious woman without whom - so Purnell argues with authority - Winston Churchill's political career would have been a washout. It is clear from this admirable account that Churchill would never have risen to greatness without Clementine.'
Miranda Seymour Daily Telegraph
'It seems remarkable that no one has given this remarkable woman proper biographical treatment before. One of the great political partnerships ... sensitively explored by Sonia Purnell.'
Daisy Goodwin The Times
'Eye opening biography. First Lady is a bold biography of a bold woman; at last Purnell has put Clementine Churchill at the centre of her own extraordinary story, rather than in the shadow of her husband's.'
Frances Wilson Mail on Sunday
'Sonia Purnell has written a highly readable, well researched, and insightful biography. This is an immensely enjoyable and deeply researched account.'
'Compellingly readable... the heroic saga of a warrior queen who wanted power but only got it by playing subtle diplomatic games as her husband's eminence grise during two world wars.'
Michele Roberts Independent
Publication date: 07/04/2016
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
Publication date: 14/05/2015
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
|Publication date:||7th April 2016|
|Publisher:||Aurum Press Ltd|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, History, The Real World,|
|Categories:||Biography: historical, political & military, Politics & government, Military history,|
Sonia Purnell started work at The Economist Intelligence Unit, edited a weekly financial magazine when only twenty-five, and then went on to a senior position on the Daily Telegraph's City pages before reporting on the EU from Brussels. On her return to London she assumed the position of Whitehall Correspondent, before moving to the Daily Mail, where she was Whitehall Editor. Her first book, Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition, was a candid and widely acclaimed portrait of London Mayor Boris Johnson, informed by her time working alongside him in Brussels. Just Boris was long listed for the Orwell ...More About Sonia Purnell