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American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill

American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill

Hardback

By (author) Anne Sebba

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  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Format: Hardback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 239mm x 36mm | 771g
  • Publication date: 30 November 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0393057720
  • ISBN 13: 9780393057720
  • Sales rank: 1,540,245

Product description

Brooklyn-born Jennie Jerome married into the British aristocracy in 1874, after a three-day romance. She became Lady Randolph Churchill, wife of a maverick politician and mother of the most famous British statesman of the century. Jennie Churchill was not merely the most talked about and controversial American woman in London society, she was a dynamic behind-the-scenes political force and a woman of sexual fearlessness at a time when women were not supposed to be sexually liberated. A concert pianist, magazine founder and editor, and playwright, she was also, above all, a devoted mother to Winston. In American Jennie, Anne Sebba draws on newly discovered personal correspondences and archives to examine the unusually powerful mutual infatuation between Jennie and her son and to relate the passionate and ultimately tragic career of the woman whom Winston described as having the wine of life in her veins. "

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Editorial reviews

The eventful life of Winston Churchill's mother, recounted by a writer who has penned similar tomes on Mother Teresa and Laura Ashley.Sebba (Exiled Collector, 2004, etc.) draws on many sources for her biography of Lady Randolph Churchill (1854 - 1921), born Jennie Jerome in Brooklyn, N.Y., but she makes especially good use of an extensive archive of personal correspondence. Jennie's early years are quickly dispensed with, and the main narrative begins with a whirlwind romance that inserted this American beauty into the English aristocracy. She met 24-year-old Randolph Churchill at a shipboard ball in the summer of 1873; three days later, they considered themselves engaged. From this point on, Sebba's text is laced with long quotations from letters Jennie wrote and received, and they add real dramatic verve to her retelling. "I love you better than anything on earth," averred Randolph in an epistle written during the eight months it took the impetuous young couple to win consent from their reluctant parents. Sebba paints the big picture via myriad small details, making note of exchanges about the perils of smoking, telling stories about young Winston's demanding nature as a child and indicating that Jennie was often bored by the pomp and ceremony that surrounded someone in her position. She had various affairs while still married to Randolph and wed twice more after his death in 1895. Jennie didn't live long enough to see Winston become prime minister, yet Sebba offers plenty of evidence to suggest that she was an early political mentor to her son, including fascinating passages about their joint opposition to the suffragettes and quotes from friends who observed her "unswerving faith in his capacities." Such material provides welcome insight into their relationship. A conscientious undertaking that offers plenty of food for thought. (Kirkus Reviews)