Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The epic story of one of England's greatest families, focusing on the towering figure of Winston Churchill.
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.