The Churchills: In Love and War

Mary S. Lovell. Norton, $35 (640p) ISBN 978-0-393-06230-4
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)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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