[Lady Clementine]: A Review

Happy November, my friends!

I hope y’all had a fantastic Halloween and are looking forward to the holiday season ahead! Today I am back with a review of a book that I really enjoyed. Luckily I write a mini review on Goodreads when I finish books because I continue to be rather behind on my actual reviews. Excited to share more thoughts about Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict!

This book intrigued me so much when I saw it at Target that I bought it. I love WWII fiction and the fact that this story focused on the life of Clementine Churchill, wife of Winston Churchill was fascinating. I have never read anything about her previously but I now want to read more! I also appreciated that we get more background on WWI–a period of history I am lately fascinated by.

Initial Thoughts:

  • Love the inside perspective on Clementine’s life and her relationship with Winston. I didn’t know much of their background or the complex rise to power of one of Britain’s most famous Prime Ministers.
  • Another book that I read on the Libby app and made me love that platform even more! 
  • Benedict includes a list of biographies and letter collections at the end of this book for those who want to learn more about the Churchills. I really appreciated that and hope to read more about them.

According to Goodreads, “From Marie Benedict . . . comes an incredible novel that focuses on one of the people who had the most influence during World War I and World War II: Clementine Churchill.

In 1909, Clementine Churchill steps off a train with her new husband, Winston. An angry woman emerges from the crowd to attack, shoving him in the direction of an oncoming train. Just before he stumbles, Clementine grabs him by his suit jacket. This will not be the last time Clementine Churchill saves her husband.

Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the brilliant and ambitious woman beside Winston Churchill, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the sweeping darkness of war, and who would not surrender either to expectations or to enemies.

We get a complete picture of Clementine Churchill and her singular life. Clementine embodied many roles–wife and mother and political figure. I appreciated her struggle with motherhood and that she worked to be better and learn from her mistakes. I loved when she works as a fire marshal, her work to make the bomb shelters sanitary and the tour she takes of Russia and her encounters with the leaders of the day including Stalin and FDR. Her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt was my favorite. She was a strong woman who owned her opinions!

I loved the way Benedict weaves the details of Clementine’s personal life with her role in Winston’s political success. We get details about her courtship and marriage with Winston over 30 years of their lives together. It’s fascinating to see how they develop and how their relationship overcomes challenges and trials. They had some very difficult times in their lives but they carried on. Not only was she central to their family life, but Clementine was also at the center of Winston’s career. Practicing speeches, changing wording, helping connect with the right people, involvement as a politicians wife, reading and responding to letters, forwarding women’s rights and championing the British people, Clementine did it all! She was there every step of the way. I don’t think he could have done it all without her.

This book offered a unique lens to view Winston Churchill’s political career and the world wars in general. I didn’t know Churchill had so many set backs in his career. Fascinating to read about his experience fighting in WWI and the disastrous plans he was involved in. Then how he regains political power culminating in his term as prime minister in the 1940s. I loved the details of his journey and the way the Churchills loved and served Britain and her people. I really enjoyed the connections between WWI and WWII–how the Great War led to more conflict. I was enthralled by the experiences during the Blitz especially the details about bomb shelters. And I was in awe of all Clementine did to help people at that time! Additionally, this book gives readers an important view of WWII from the British leaders’ perspective including the US involvement and rise to a world power. It was fascinating to see the complexities of the war and how relationships between leaders and nations were much more nuanced than history sometimes tells it.

There were a few things that were surprising or disorienting that are worth mentioning. First, the tense was a bit disorienting at times. The entire novel is in present tense although it jumps around through time. A variance in tense could help clarify those time jumps. Clementine took a lot of journeys away from her family. I was relieved she didn’t have an affair (at least in the novel) but felt like she wanted to which was sad. Winston did not always treat her as well as she deserved which was disappointing. I think the main takeaway I have from this book is that famous people are not perfect people. They make mistakes, hurt those they love, and are sometimes treated unfairly. But history remembers them for their moments of greatness. And I’m glad of that.

Overall, a fascinating novel with so many intriguing descriptions of well known relationships and events. I enjoyed getting to know Clementine Churchill so much better. And I hope to read more about her in the future!

What are your favorite WWII novels?
Who are some world leaders that inspire you?

4 thoughts on “[Lady Clementine]: A Review

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