American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill

Anne Sebba, Author . Norton $26.95 (398p) ISBN 978-0-393-05772-0

As Winston Churchill's mother and close adviser, Brooklyn-born Jennie Jerome (1854–1921) may have rated a chapter in the history books. But steeped in scandal, the passionate, ambitious and beautiful Gilded Age heiress has been fodder for several biographies of her own, including Ralph Martin's two-volume bestseller (1969–1971). The daughter of a maverick stock speculator, Jennie was probably pregnant with Winston when she married the duke of Marlborough's second son, Randolph. She was a tireless supporter of her husband's rising political career, and endured his sexual dalliances, mental unraveling (probably from syphilis) and eventual death. She earned a reputation as a journalist, dazzling socialite, shameless booster of Winston's political aspirations, and as a financially imprudent woman who indulged in a string of sexually charged affairs. Indeed, Jennie's younger son, Jack, may have been fathered by a handsome colonel and viscount, and her purported lovers may have included the prince of Wales. After Randolph's death, she remarried twice to men 20 years her junior, and died at 67 after a bad fall caused by her high heels. Sebba's (Mother Teresa ) admiring biography is absorbing, authoritative and makes good use of family letters. 16 pages of photos. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-393-07968-5
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-393-35028-9
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