Book review: Lady Clementine

Lady Clementine

Lady Clementine
by Marie Benedict
Sourcebooks
1/7/2020
Historical Fiction
336 pages

Goodreads

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I have enjoyed several books by Marie Benedict, for instance Carnegie’s Maid, and as I knew nothing about Clementine Churchill, I decided to read this author’s latest historical novel, Lady Clementine.

I enjoyed the writing. As usual, Benedict’s style is very flowing and she’s good at recreating the ambiance of an era, with great descriptions.

From the very first sentence, she managed to present Lady Churchill as someone unique, with a very specific mission in life, something unheard of to that degree in her time (like for instance being part of the war cabinet discussions).

I always feel different. No matter the sphere I inhabit, I always feel set apart.
Opening lines

Mrs. Churchill’s interests totally fit those of the man she ended up marrying and supporting all her life, even saving his life a couple of times.

He brimmed with the sort of enthusiasm and idealism that I, too, had about politics, history, and culture. In his company, I felt drawn into the thick of things, as if I was becoming an essential cog in the core of England.
Chapter 3

It was fascinating to read about all that she did during both wars to support her country and help all those who suffered.

The author also highlighted some important elements in Clementine’s life, like her difficulties when she realized her husband maybe liked her more for what she was doing for him, for how she was supporting him and helping him in so many ways, than for who she was as a person.
Another important element in the book is her not being the mothering type.

As I mentioned above, I really knew nothing about the Churchills. So, as I remembered being a bit disappointed by Marie Benedict’s treatment of Hedy Lamarr’s life when I read another book on this artist, I thought it might be important to learn more about Clementine Churchill. So I watched a few documentaries on her.

I discovered she lived twelve more years than Winston. He died in 1965 and she in 1977. As her life’s focus had so much been her husband’s support, including preparing his speeches together, to give just a tiny detail, I think it would have been very interesting to prolong this novel (it ends in 1945), and show how Clementine’s life evolved after her husband’s death.
As for the mothering type,  I was shocked to discover that one of her daughters, Diana, ended up dying of an overdose in 1963. I think this is a major element, and the book should definitely talk about Clementine’s later years and this tragedy.

So once again (see my review of The Only Woman in the Room), I like Marie Benedict’s style, but I disagree with some of her choices in the treatment of the lives of the women she decides to feature.

VERDICT: Great writing, but the book would have been improved with better choices in the treatment of Lady Clementine’s life.  

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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge from the publisher through Netgalley. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

7 thoughts on “Book review: Lady Clementine

  1. I’m looking forward to this book and learning about Clementine Churchill, but it’s always kind of a bummer when the author takes too many liberties or doesn’t feature what could be considered important elements of a historical figure’s life.

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  2. I see. Okay, I get that. However, I would argue that those years, almost all of which were far less eventful than those included in the book, were also far less significant regarding her own life than when he was alive – despite her daughter’s tragic death. What Benedict did was highlight how she became the woman who could achieve so much, despite being just the “wife of”. My copy didn’t have an afterward or any authors notes, so maybe I don’t know what I was missing. I recall, however, how angry I was with the novel about Eliza Hamilton I read where it ended just after Alexander’s death. She lived 50 years more and did TONS of stuff but only AFTER he died, and that book didn’t give me any of that except in the authors notes. In contrast, from what I know, Clementine’s heights of accomplishments happened (or at least began) while she was still at his side, during his lifetime. I stand by my 5 star rating, even if we agree to disagree on this one.

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    • That’s a good point. I still think (while agreeing to disagree, lol) the author could have included some pointers. For instance, it looks Clementine stopped doing as much, because of her growing deafness preventing her from participating more actively in political life. I don’t consider that a detail in the evolution of her personal life. I must have been a dramatic change!

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  3. Pingback: Sunday Post #20 – 1/12/2020 | Words And Peace

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