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A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child

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Now in her eighty-ninth year, Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Younger than her siblings by several years, she went to day school and enjoyed an idyllic childhood played out in her very own 'Garden of Eden' - Chartwell. Here she roamed house and grounds, tended diligently to her collection of pets, and had her first glimpses of t Now in her eighty-ninth year, Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Younger than her siblings by several years, she went to day school and enjoyed an idyllic childhood played out in her very own 'Garden of Eden' - Chartwell. Here she roamed house and grounds, tended diligently to her collection of pets, and had her first glimpses of the glittering social world in which her parents moved. Then, in 1939, Chamberlain's declaration of war dramatically ended this world as she and her family had known it. Hereafter we follow Mary's life through her fascinating personal diary, published here for the first time. Through the immediacy of her private observations we are drawn into a world where the ordinary minutiae of a packed family, social and romantic life proceed against a background of cataclysmic events. Joining the ATS and serving in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, Mary takes on her own set of professional demands while sharing the many anxieties and stresses brought to bear upon her family through her father's position. The mutual love and affection between Mary and her parents is evident on every page, from her earliest years at Chartwell to Winston's defeat at the 1945 general election, when Mary recounts her own pain and devastation on her father's behalf. At this point she meets her future husband, Christopher Soames. We are left in no doubt at the end of this charming and revealing memoir that, at twenty-four, Mary has lived a full life and is well prepared for her future as young wife and mother.


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Now in her eighty-ninth year, Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Younger than her siblings by several years, she went to day school and enjoyed an idyllic childhood played out in her very own 'Garden of Eden' - Chartwell. Here she roamed house and grounds, tended diligently to her collection of pets, and had her first glimpses of t Now in her eighty-ninth year, Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Younger than her siblings by several years, she went to day school and enjoyed an idyllic childhood played out in her very own 'Garden of Eden' - Chartwell. Here she roamed house and grounds, tended diligently to her collection of pets, and had her first glimpses of the glittering social world in which her parents moved. Then, in 1939, Chamberlain's declaration of war dramatically ended this world as she and her family had known it. Hereafter we follow Mary's life through her fascinating personal diary, published here for the first time. Through the immediacy of her private observations we are drawn into a world where the ordinary minutiae of a packed family, social and romantic life proceed against a background of cataclysmic events. Joining the ATS and serving in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, Mary takes on her own set of professional demands while sharing the many anxieties and stresses brought to bear upon her family through her father's position. The mutual love and affection between Mary and her parents is evident on every page, from her earliest years at Chartwell to Winston's defeat at the 1945 general election, when Mary recounts her own pain and devastation on her father's behalf. At this point she meets her future husband, Christopher Soames. We are left in no doubt at the end of this charming and revealing memoir that, at twenty-four, Mary has lived a full life and is well prepared for her future as young wife and mother.

30 review for A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    First off, let me state that this is an audiobook where I feel the narration is the icing on the cake. It is extremely good. The intonations, the happiness and the sadness expressed match the words to a tee. French pronunciation is perfect, as well as English and American dialects. I really, really enjoyed the narration. Superb! A delight to listen to. Mary’s memoir is chatty, confidential, so it is not hard to follow in this format. This is a book about Mary Soames, the youngest child of Winston First off, let me state that this is an audiobook where I feel the narration is the icing on the cake. It is extremely good. The intonations, the happiness and the sadness expressed match the words to a tee. French pronunciation is perfect, as well as English and American dialects. I really, really enjoyed the narration. Superb! A delight to listen to. Mary’s memoir is chatty, confidential, so it is not hard to follow in this format. This is a book about Mary Soames, the youngest child of Winston Churchill. Winston and Clementine had four other children. One died soon after birth. The other three were not nearly as successful or happy. It is rather intriguing to think about this. I can come up with several reasons, but they remain conjectures. Alcoholism can be inherited and Winston certainly was a big drinker! Mary was also the last child, the baby of the family; she scarcely grew up with her siblings or her parents! The book shows this in spades. And then of course all children are different, even brothers and sisters! The book depicts in great detail Mary's childhood. This part of the book is delightful. Pets and trips and sports, wonderful teachers, a devoted nanny and one-to-one relationships with adults. Yes, she was cosseted! She was certainly privileged, but she never becomes haughty or takes others for granted. Meeting her, knowing her through this book, was a pleasure. Mary is optimistic and cheerful. She has empathy and humor. The humor rolls of the lines. So of course it is a delight to read what she writes. Oh, all these verbs should maybe be in the past tense; she died in 2014. Her personality is reflected in the feeling of the book. In her teens Mary began to become interested in politics. French and English literature drew her, and you learn of what she read and what was read to her as a child. At an older age she kept detailed diaries. The book follows the diary entries closely. Letters have also been included. What you follow in this book are what she saw and observed and thought of the world she grew up in, of the build up to the war and finally the war years. You see the numerous dignitaries through her eyes, meticulously and amusing recorded in her diary entries. Her diary was originally for her eyes alone, so what she writes is frank. You can’t help but laugh. Because she was sweet, this is a joy to read. She does state when others are grumpy or sour or behave badly, but never in a harsh accusing manner. It is said and you go on. I don't believe she is hiding or holding back unpleasant information. She WAS a happy, optimistic person, at least most of the time. She shows respect and empathy for others in times of difficulty, so her happiness doesn't seem frivolous or exaggerated. The book covers her years during the war first with the WVS (Women's Volunteer Service) and then the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) where she rose to the rank of captain in an anti-aircraft battery unit. There is a lot of flirting and partying too, but what you see is the life of women volunteers in the war, even if it is clear she was on occasion given special treatment due to the position of her father. The book ends after Winston Churchill lost the election in 1945 at the conclusion of the war. Soon thereafter she meets and marries her husband. The central focus remains her youth and the war years. Mary was very close to her father. Through this close relationship you learn about her father too, but mostly you learn about Mary. You don't read this book to learn history. The history is there but only to the extent that she was involved, the people she met, her battery job and the support she gave her father. I have read The Last Lion 1: Visions of Glory 1874-1932. That has more history. It is the first of a trilogy, and it was very good, but I detested the narration so I haven't continued. (My review of Manchester's book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....) I still want to know more so will now read The Private Lives of Winston Churchill. Other than giving me only one personal perspective and my wanting more, the only other complaint I have is the author’s excessive use of acronyms.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Oh, she has SUCH documentation in diary, letters, teacher or tutor or nanny's reports etc. That's great historical non-fiction when you have all numerous family members writing letters all the time too. Because WERE THESE PEOPLE ALL OVER THE PLACE. Honestly, I have rarely read of a family and vast acquaintance circle that traveled this much, this wide and this frequently. Not just for pleasure but for every aspect of life from education to business to politics to combat. Winston comes alive as mu Oh, she has SUCH documentation in diary, letters, teacher or tutor or nanny's reports etc. That's great historical non-fiction when you have all numerous family members writing letters all the time too. Because WERE THESE PEOPLE ALL OVER THE PLACE. Honestly, I have rarely read of a family and vast acquaintance circle that traveled this much, this wide and this frequently. Not just for pleasure but for every aspect of life from education to business to politics to combat. Winston comes alive as much as Mary does. Also I give her huge kudos for her service and the ability she has to not put down or "dis" anyone to any legitimate degree. It's as if she can't be mean regardless if that was the reverse. Perhaps, if she was a Southern USA girl she would be saying "Bless Their Heart" about some of the key figures in her early and middle life, especially. The first half was greatly enjoyed. The second half not close to the same joy, onus, posit of the rocket of the first. And I wish she would have gone far more into Soames and their coupleship. Good book- but honestly not even a cipher on The Splendid and the Vile by Larson which I read just two months ago. If I hadn't read that first I would have NEVER gotten 1/2 of this (nuance AND ambiance of true "what is going on here") because Mary is/was/ will ever be just too nice and doesn't always give a base outcome picture. Larson is the truth teller, especially upon Randolph and both of Mary's parents AS parents. What a life. And I was SO shocked when she took her Army role so far and so long as she did. But really, I cannot imagine the levels of professional entertainment, celeb, travel, context/content of "eyes" to all structures/ dozens, no scores, of places Mary, Clementine, Winston lived for decades times two or three while they were "poor"? Huh? And usually more than not it was NOT living with each other or spouse either. In both books the poor mouthing of all the Churchills! And their lack of any financial "scale" at the same time? Hard to describe. Can't imagine what they'd live, eat, wear, ride, travel to or experience if they DID have "proper" funds. LOL! The liquor cellar costs alone, IMHO, are mind boggling. Any legacy (there was one big one from a distant relative to Winston) was spent nearly immediately. With Mary being the youngest of 5 too- with much, much older siblings. Frugality has another whole meaning to this class and place, IMHO. 3.5 stars rounded up for her excellent child and teen years recall and documentation depth. But if you want to read a truer picture of the crux time- read the Larson one I noted above.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    In an age when so many memoirs by children of famous--or even not famous--parents are actually just tell-all indictments about dysfunctional parenting and miserable childhoods and are riddled with tales of stories ofabuse and rife with accusation, this memoir is none of the above, which is thoroughly refreshing. Mary Soames, nee Churchill, makes it clear from the very start of the book that she loved and respected her parents, regardless of their faults. Whatever dysfunction and/or disappointmen In an age when so many memoirs by children of famous--or even not famous--parents are actually just tell-all indictments about dysfunctional parenting and miserable childhoods and are riddled with tales of stories ofabuse and rife with accusation, this memoir is none of the above, which is thoroughly refreshing. Mary Soames, nee Churchill, makes it clear from the very start of the book that she loved and respected her parents, regardless of their faults. Whatever dysfunction and/or disappointment there was is alluded to briefly if mentioned at all, and never dwelled on. If anything, the book is perhaps a bit too saccharine, glossing over disappointments and challenges others might have dwelled on. The real pay-off, however, are the chapters describing the pre-WWII and war years of the 30s and 40s when Soames had a front row view of history. She met and knew some of the greatest 'actors' participating in perhaps the most dramatic period of the 20th century; on occasion she accompanied her father to secret meetings with the likes of Stalin and FDR; she worked in what was then rare,a male/female anti bomb squad where she rose to the rank of captain; and simply because of her social standing she was friends with nobles and dignitaris, and even on more than one occasion dined with the King and Queen. This isn't a great book, and is, in all honesty, a bit lightweight...but it offers a view into a life at the active sidelines of an extraordinary couple during an extraordinary time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is the loveliest book! I will definitely buy it so I can keep my own copy forever. It was such a treat to read these reminiscences by Lady Soames, the daughter of the great Winston Churchill. She begins with an account of her idyllic life at Chartwell in the beautiful countryside. Here she enjoyed life with a menagerie of animals, watching the antics of her siblings, and riding and even bricklaying with her father. She felt somewhat isolated from her siblings because she was the youngest and This is the loveliest book! I will definitely buy it so I can keep my own copy forever. It was such a treat to read these reminiscences by Lady Soames, the daughter of the great Winston Churchill. She begins with an account of her idyllic life at Chartwell in the beautiful countryside. Here she enjoyed life with a menagerie of animals, watching the antics of her siblings, and riding and even bricklaying with her father. She felt somewhat isolated from her siblings because she was the youngest and they were several years older so she describes herself as a bit ‘odd’. However, glamour touched on her life even then. Important politicians and artists, such as the painter, John Lavery, visited and young Mary had a hand in helping her sister, Sarah, elope! Life soon became a splendid whirl of dances, balls, and several romances for the young and pretty debutante. Queen Charlotte’s Ball certainly seems like a fairytale event. Her teenage years were touched by sadness, however. A broken engagement made her feel guilty and lessened her confidence somewhat. Mary Churchill had to grow up impossibly fast when the dark days of the war came. She describes these eventful years and the impact it had on her father, who became Prime Minister, especially vividly. Overhearing her father say that women would have to do the work of men now, Mary impetuously decided to join the war effort. She entered the mixed batteries and eventually became a Junior Commander in charge of over 200 young women. Although London was under fire and being devastated by terrible bombings, she still managed to have a good time on occasion – there were still visits to nightclubs, romances and enjoyable family occasions. Some of the most interesting events in the book occur when Mary travels with her father to important conferences in Canada and Berlin. She is in a position to describe MacKenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, as a ‘cosy old thing’ and Roosevelt as a ‘cute, cunning old bird’! Her joy at being able to help her father on these occasions shines through the book. Her agony at watching her father suffer when important battles are lost during the course of the war makes the reader feel for her. Many dreadful events are brought home to the reader in this book, such as the fall of France and the defeat at Tobruk. At one stage Mary even fell to her knees to pray because she was so unhappy about her country’s situation. I am not going to write about the ending but most readers will find that it’s one of their favourite parts of this wonderful book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Ferraro

    I recently read this book before going to London and visiting Churchill's WWII bunker at the Churchill War Museum and going to Chartwell, where he lived with his wife and children. Having read Mary Soames' book before going made these places come alive for me. She was an extraordinary woman who loved her father deeply and who was part of a fascinating time in history. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in learning about Churchill and the British experience of WWII. I would I recently read this book before going to London and visiting Churchill's WWII bunker at the Churchill War Museum and going to Chartwell, where he lived with his wife and children. Having read Mary Soames' book before going made these places come alive for me. She was an extraordinary woman who loved her father deeply and who was part of a fascinating time in history. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in learning about Churchill and the British experience of WWII. I would also highly recommend going to the Churchill War Museum and visiting Chartwell, which is a beautiful estate where you can see not only the home where they lived and the gorgeous grounds but also Churchill's artwork. The book was made even more poignant by the fact that Lady Soames, who was the youngest and last remaining of the Churchill children, died just a few days before I left for the UK.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    A good historical narrative from an "insider" source, her family is quite remarkable! A good historical narrative from an "insider" source, her family is quite remarkable!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Ule

    You have to be a total Churchill nerd to truly appreciate this minutia-filled and loving story of Winston Churchhill's youngest child. Mary was my favorite "character" in The Splendid and the Vile, which is why I wanted to read this story from her point of view. I still like her a lot, but the memoir bogs down in endless details and names--during an important period of history. And thus ends this period of Churchillian reading for me! You have to be a total Churchill nerd to truly appreciate this minutia-filled and loving story of Winston Churchhill's youngest child. Mary was my favorite "character" in The Splendid and the Vile, which is why I wanted to read this story from her point of view. I still like her a lot, but the memoir bogs down in endless details and names--during an important period of history. And thus ends this period of Churchillian reading for me!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carol Bakker

    Often, the celebrity family memoir is either a distasteful tell-all or a yawn-inducing whitewash. This book leans white-washy, but it is by no means boring. The answer to my frequent question while reading any book — would I like to invite this author over for dinner? — is a resounding Yes! Since the author died in 2014, I'd be delighted to have dinner with one of her five children! Mary Soames is the child of consolation of Winston and Clementine Churchill: born after the death of their toddler Often, the celebrity family memoir is either a distasteful tell-all or a yawn-inducing whitewash. This book leans white-washy, but it is by no means boring. The answer to my frequent question while reading any book — would I like to invite this author over for dinner? — is a resounding Yes! Since the author died in 2014, I'd be delighted to have dinner with one of her five children! Mary Soames is the child of consolation of Winston and Clementine Churchill: born after the death of their toddler daughter Marigold, Mary was 8, 11, and 13 years younger than her older siblings. Beloved and adored, she inherited the best qualities of both her parents. This book covers her early life up to her marriage in 1947 to Christopher Soames. More than just a memoir of the child of a famous person, it is a portrait of a long-ago time (in England - it has to be in England) when a nanny named Nana read for hours to her charge, and teenage friends memorize a Shakespeare sonnet each day. Soames expounds on books she loved and the Victorian religious stories she didn't! At the end of each of these busily and happily occupied days came an evening ritual — reading aloud. This was a treasured highlight of my routine, and my greatest punishment was to be depriced of this great treat. Starting after teatime, Nana would read to me; when bedtime arrived, we adjourned upstairs, and the reading continued while I undressed, folding my clothes carefully; we then removed to the adjacent bathroom, where I took as long as possible to wash — tiresome interruptions to the narrative being occasioned by very necessary knee scrubbings. Swathed in a towel, I would try to spin more time out: "Oh, we must finish the chapter — please..." Nana seemed an inexhaustible reader, and throughout my nursery years I listened enthralled to her renderings of many books—some of them favourites with my grandchildren's generation still: all of Beatrix Potter, and the Christopher Robins; then Black Beauty (I remember sobbing into my face flannel over poor Ginger's story); The Cuckoo Clock and The Tapestry Room by Mrs. Molesworth; Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass; Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and Charles Kingleys The Water Babies—and, of course, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. She also writes about her childhood faith, raised by her nanny to say prayers, guided by a vicar at a neighboring church, rooted and grounded in the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible. All in all, this was a winsome read. And now I'm combing through YouTube clips of Mary Soames speaking.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karen (Living Unabridged)

    Quite enjoyable peek into personal life of the Churchill family from the perspective of the youngest Churchill daughter, Mary. Covers the period of time from her birth until her marriage (two years after the end of WW2). My only quibble is how she refers to her parents: she jumps around from "Mummie and Papa" to "Winston" and "Clementine" pretty much randomly. She also removes herself from some situations with her siblings (older brother Randolph, older sisters Diana and Sarah) by saying things l Quite enjoyable peek into personal life of the Churchill family from the perspective of the youngest Churchill daughter, Mary. Covers the period of time from her birth until her marriage (two years after the end of WW2). My only quibble is how she refers to her parents: she jumps around from "Mummie and Papa" to "Winston" and "Clementine" pretty much randomly. She also removes herself from some situations with her siblings (older brother Randolph, older sisters Diana and Sarah) by saying things like "his father was upset" when it would make more sense, in my opinion, to say "Our father was upset". Still, for History buffs and Churchill fans, this is a great book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kereesa

    I have not read many memoirs. I have probably never really read many in my life, nor will I ever read many in my days to come. It's not a genre I know very well, or have much interest in most of the time. My boyfriend always says he bleeds milkshakes, and I think the same could be said for me and fantasy. That's not to say I don't understand or get the point of a good bio/autobio/etc... I do, I just have a lack of interest most of the time, and honestly prefer something with a little more magic I have not read many memoirs. I have probably never really read many in my life, nor will I ever read many in my days to come. It's not a genre I know very well, or have much interest in most of the time. My boyfriend always says he bleeds milkshakes, and I think the same could be said for me and fantasy. That's not to say I don't understand or get the point of a good bio/autobio/etc... I do, I just have a lack of interest most of the time, and honestly prefer something with a little more magic to my story :P Anyway, A Daughter's Tale is by no means the worst book, autobio or not, that I've had the displeasure of reading, but is definitely by no means something I'd recommend to anyone other than a Churchill historian, or someone interested in the day to day on-goings of WSC. And that is precisely the problem: A Daughter's Tale is sadly not really about Mary Soames, or her relationship with her parents or siblings. Instead it is a rather surface look at the social life of WSC and his family. Details about people, fashion, and even food hold precedence, while Mrs. Soames carefully, and uncritically, writes about her family life almost shallowly. Her personal feelings are minimally, if ever, discussed or reflected on, while moments where her family is behaving less than admirably are passed over just as quickly, and even, in a few cases, explanations are left unsaid. Soames's narrative is almost a contradiction somewhat as it attempts to present negative aspects of her now dead family, yet attempts to protect them from this at the same time. Her relationships with her father and mother are probably some of the most interesting aspects of Soames's narrative, especially in relation to their near constant absence for most of Soames's life. Her relation with her older siblings is another aspect that's certainly intriguing, especially regarding their vast differences in age, and Soames's misguided attempts to be involved in their lives. In addition to this is Soames's nearly invisible narrative regarding her weight, an aspect about herself that is mentioned not only by other people, but even indirectly by Soames's mother and even Soames herself. There's also this weird emphasis on fashion, especially regarding WSC, that's just odd. Seriously, I'm not here to read about Winston's matching slippers, as exciting as that may seem. Well, looks like I've got enough to talk about for my seminar. 2.5/5

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gabi Coatsworth

    A fascinating slice of history from Mary Soames, Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter. It covers her childhood through the end of World War 2, and gives a different perspective on Churchill and the rest of the family. Her trips with Churchill to foreign countries during the war for conferences were fascinating. I hadn’t realized that he traveled so much. And her own experiences as a member of the ATS are also interesting. Based on her diaries and letters, I found this a very readable memoir, an A fascinating slice of history from Mary Soames, Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter. It covers her childhood through the end of World War 2, and gives a different perspective on Churchill and the rest of the family. Her trips with Churchill to foreign countries during the war for conferences were fascinating. I hadn’t realized that he traveled so much. And her own experiences as a member of the ATS are also interesting. Based on her diaries and letters, I found this a very readable memoir, and would recommend it for anyone interested in the period, or in the life of a great man from a daughter’s perspective.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pearl

    Probably I should have known from the sub-title that this book would be a memoir of the author herself, not of her father. But I didn't, and it took me a while to get over that disappointment when beginning to read the book. I have always been a big Winston Churchill fan, despite the fact that he was a conservative and I'm not and that he loved and tried to hang on to the British Empire and I'm not an admirer of imperialism. I didn't know enough about Mary Churchill to want to read a book about Probably I should have known from the sub-title that this book would be a memoir of the author herself, not of her father. But I didn't, and it took me a while to get over that disappointment when beginning to read the book. I have always been a big Winston Churchill fan, despite the fact that he was a conservative and I'm not and that he loved and tried to hang on to the British Empire and I'm not an admirer of imperialism. I didn't know enough about Mary Churchill to want to read a book about her. Of course both Winston and Clementine Churchill play major roles in Mary's story. Mary was the youngest of the five Churchill children. The fourth child died suddenly at age three and both Churchill's were grief stricken. Mary was born a few years later and was eight years younger than the next youngest child. She grew up as the apple of her father's eye and as a great comfort and friend to her mother. Mary's memoirs end at the close of WW II when she is in her very early twenties. Most of her story is told through her diary entries at the time, so we get a fairly young and frequently immature Mary. A little blurb on the dust jacket describes the memoirs as "totally honest." I think not. Clearly the Churchill family was warm and loving and, as with all famous families, the children hope not to disappoint their parents but have a hard time living up to their legacy. We get none of this from Mary. She hero-worshiped her father. Her older siblings seem to have had a harder time being Churchills than did Mary. I did not want her to write an expose, as many children do; but I did hope for some analysis and sober reflection. Perhaps the diaries of a young girl would not reflect this but writing about seventy years later, I think it's fair to expect some reflection and analysis. She does write rather charmingly of her early years at Chartwell, the Churchill's country estate, where her father loved to paint and do household improvements, her mother loved to garden, and she (Mary) delighted in keeping chickens, goats, horse back riding and various other country things. The book also includes the time the family spent at No. 10 Downing Street and Checkers, when her father was Prime Minister during WW II and she herself volunteered for service in the army. I thought this was the most interesting part of her story. We learn that the Churchills, being great Francophiles, were particularly devastated when France fell to the Nazis. We learn a little of the deprivation suffered by the air raids and bombings and rationing and how much they envied the Yanks who seemed to have so much more than the British soldiers or the British people during the war. Their presence in England evoked appreciation and jealously - they were "overpaid, oversexed--and over here!" Mary met almost everybody who was anybody at that time. The list of names goes on and on and is very impressive, but that's it - it's like a list. Very little insight. These famous people were charming, entertaining, well dressed or not. We don't get too much more. As a part of high society, she attended lots of parties and balls. We always find out what she wore and who she danced with, but, again, not much more. For some reason I could never detect, her parents are variously referred to as papa and mummie and Winston and Clementine. They were both high spirited and somewhat high strung and fiercely devoted to each other. Other accounts I have read about their marriage bear this out but also say that Clementine sometimes had to escape from Winston because he could be so exasperating. Mary mentions some long voyages her mother takes on her own but never hints that the reason was she needed a breather from her father. She also very briefly alludes to Pamela's affair with Averell Harriman as being a major reason for her divorce from Randolph, the oldest in the family and the only son; but never alludes to the many rumors about Randolph's affairs or his drinking. Harriman was a close friend of the Churchills and apparently continued to be, despite Pamela's leaving their son for him. To be fair, Mary does write about Randolph's frequent bad behavior which caused his father much embarrassment. I couldn't help comparing Mary's memories to those of Curtis Roosevelt, Franklin and Eleanor's grandson. He wrote a very loving memoir of growing up in the White House, much of the time in the care of his grandparents. He called his memoir "Too Close to the Sun." He also, as his title suggests, is more reflective. One take-away that I got from thinking about these two families is that the Churchills were much more emotionally available to their children and to everyone than were the Roosevelts. Speaking of the Roosevelts, Mary liked them both very much but found Franklin, in all his charm, a bit overwhelming and finally a bit tiring. Of course, she was fairly young when she met him. She does tell one story that I really enjoyed. On a White House visit, the Roosevelt's had a zealous guest who chided Churchill about the way the British treated the Indians. Churchill asked if she was "referring to the brown Indians in India who multiplied alarmingly under the benevolent British rule. . . or the red Indians in America, who I understand are almost extinct." Evidently the harassing guest was silenced but FDR was delighted and laughed uproariously. At ninety +, Mary Churchill Soames is the only surviving child. Although these memories end just as WW II ended and she married, apparently she has led the longest and happiest life of any of the Churchill children. From others reaction to her, as told in her book, she was apparently funny, intelligent,and charming. I think we saw too little of this in her book. She has written a biography of her mother. I'm interested in learning more about this elegant and fascinating woman but, if I choose to read more about her, I don't think it will be Mary's book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    Glad I read this one, altho I admit to being much more interested in her father, rather than her. Being the daughter of such a famous man, especially that famous man, its not surprising that she entered the service at 18, and had a great deal of responsibility at that young age. But also, since this was her story, she included many diary entries and letters, with a lot having to do with parties and dresses, etc. The family traveled a lot, together and separately, and there is also a lot about th Glad I read this one, altho I admit to being much more interested in her father, rather than her. Being the daughter of such a famous man, especially that famous man, its not surprising that she entered the service at 18, and had a great deal of responsibility at that young age. But also, since this was her story, she included many diary entries and letters, with a lot having to do with parties and dresses, etc. The family traveled a lot, together and separately, and there is also a lot about that, along with much about the history unfolding at the time, with her father in charge. She deeply loved her father, and was always happy to have dinner alone with him when the chance came up, but also didn't make those times last long because she was afraid of boring him. Although this book ends at her marriage in 1947, and she just died several years ago, I'd say she had quite a life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Labyrns

    What a fascinating woman, Mary Soames was! As the youngest of Churchill's children, she was 17 when he became prime minister and so had a close-up view of the war and her father's excellent leadership. After completing school, she signed on to the ATS and served as an anti-aircraft gunner in Hyde Park, minutes from her home at 10 Downing Street. Soames relies on her diaries to describe the life in London during the Blitz and later on, her travels to Canada and the US with her father, meeting wit What a fascinating woman, Mary Soames was! As the youngest of Churchill's children, she was 17 when he became prime minister and so had a close-up view of the war and her father's excellent leadership. After completing school, she signed on to the ATS and served as an anti-aircraft gunner in Hyde Park, minutes from her home at 10 Downing Street. Soames relies on her diaries to describe the life in London during the Blitz and later on, her travels to Canada and the US with her father, meeting with government leaders including FDR. Even though she was definitely in the middle of it all, she seems to take everything quite calmly given her young age. At the same time we see the highs and lows of her life as a young woman trying to find her place in the world. Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile inspired me to read this volume as he refers to her diary often in his excellent book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    A Daughters Tale by Mary Soames, Winston Churchill's youngest daughter is a delightfully written memoir, written with a combination of personal reminiscences and never-before-published diary entries. She describes memories of a childhood spent roaming the grounds of Chartwell, the family’s country estate She later became one of her father’s most trusted companions, we are given rare glimpses inside the glittering social milieu through which the Churchills moved, as well as the world of British p A Daughters Tale by Mary Soames, Winston Churchill's youngest daughter is a delightfully written memoir, written with a combination of personal reminiscences and never-before-published diary entries. She describes memories of a childhood spent roaming the grounds of Chartwell, the family’s country estate She later became one of her father’s most trusted companions, we are given rare glimpses inside the glittering social milieu through which the Churchills moved, as well as the world of British politics. With fly-on-the-wall immediacy, Mary describes the debate in Parliament where Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was forced from the office which lead to her father becoming leader of the war-time cabinet and the Second World War. paving the way for Winston Churchill’s ascension and the grueling crucible of World War II. Once old enough, Mary served as a gunner in the women’s auxiliary, helping to shoot down the German V-1 rockets then bedeviling London. I found this book a joy to read, giving a unique behind the scenes look at the life the Churchill's lead, pre- during and post war. Extremely enlightening!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! It is well written and the author's vocabulary is quite impressive. As noted by another reviewer a memoir by the relative of a celebrity-if Winston Churchill can be called that-is either a disgusting tell-all or a whitewash. This, fortunately, is neither of those. The author pretty much sticks to her life and relates to the reader about her birth and upbringing to shortly after WWII to where she's married. She's not afraid to tell where she may or may not have I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! It is well written and the author's vocabulary is quite impressive. As noted by another reviewer a memoir by the relative of a celebrity-if Winston Churchill can be called that-is either a disgusting tell-all or a whitewash. This, fortunately, is neither of those. The author pretty much sticks to her life and relates to the reader about her birth and upbringing to shortly after WWII to where she's married. She's not afraid to tell where she may or may not have her shortcomings but the book is all the better for it. She goes on to tell what it's like to serve in an anti-aircraft battery as well as accompanying her father on some of his diplomatic trips and conferences. As I stated I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it if anyone were to ask.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Madison Y

    I enjoyed hearing about her life and the historic moments of the ‘30s-‘40s, but I did get a bit bored during this book...Too many names were dropped throughout this book that upon google search nothing comes up about them and who really did not add anything to the “story”. She was very detailed though, if sometimes too much. She had so many letters and names and dates that it must have taken a lot of effort and digging through records to craft this book, which I respect.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Donie Nelson

    Great book if you are obsessed with the Churchills. I grabbed it at the library on impulse, but did not finish reading. Soames draws upon family letters as well as her own diaries to recreate her life from birth to her marriage. This covers WWII in England. Did not hold my interest--great if you have insomnia.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Mary Soames only made me hold WSC in higher esteem through her own telling of her family's involvement in WWII. What a remarkable, humble account of her loyalty to family, country, and the people whose lives were changed and interrupted by this vital world war that brought out bravery at every level of society. I'll be reading all her books now. Mary Soames only made me hold WSC in higher esteem through her own telling of her family's involvement in WWII. What a remarkable, humble account of her loyalty to family, country, and the people whose lives were changed and interrupted by this vital world war that brought out bravery at every level of society. I'll be reading all her books now.

  20. 4 out of 5

    EL Core

    I enjoyed this book very much, but I am a Churchill aficionado. Lady Soames, writing in her late 80s, managed to re-capture the joys of youth in this memoir, which concludes with the beginning of her marriage. I think it may be of most interest to my fellow Churchill aficionados.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zuvielekatzen

    so. many. details. and a lot of snobbery. I'm glad to have finished it. so. many. details. and a lot of snobbery. I'm glad to have finished it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Willems

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was great read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sisa Trástamara

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In this book you will discover Winston Churchill is a alcoholic and always at parties during the war.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I really liked this memoir of Churchills' youngest daughter. It was especially intriguing having just read The Splendid and The Vile. I really liked this memoir of Churchills' youngest daughter. It was especially intriguing having just read The Splendid and The Vile.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jo Cleobury

    A very enjoyable read x

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gwen Leader

    Brilliantly Informative Thoroughly enjoyed this book, learnt a great deal about a great man and his family. We won't see his home again more' the pity Brilliantly Informative Thoroughly enjoyed this book, learnt a great deal about a great man and his family. We won't see his home again more' the pity

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mripma

    Just couldn't get into it. Not sure why... Just couldn't get into it. Not sure why...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adam Gossman

    What a beautiful book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    This was a very sweet book, and worthwhile reading. It chronicles the life of Mary Churchill Soames, the youngest of Winston and Clementine Churchill's 5 children. Mary Soames died in 2014 at the age of 91. She was 17 years old when WWII broke out in 1939 and an eyewitness to many of the epic events of WWII. I read an interview that Mary Soames gave in 2012, see http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn... Her interview made me more interested in her as a person and also her relationship with her ver This was a very sweet book, and worthwhile reading. It chronicles the life of Mary Churchill Soames, the youngest of Winston and Clementine Churchill's 5 children. Mary Soames died in 2014 at the age of 91. She was 17 years old when WWII broke out in 1939 and an eyewitness to many of the epic events of WWII. I read an interview that Mary Soames gave in 2012, see http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn... Her interview made me more interested in her as a person and also her relationship with her very famous father. The death of the Churchill's 4th child, Marigold, in 1921 at the age of only 2 1/2 years old changed many things about how Clementine ran their home. Before Marigold's death, the children had been largely taken care of by hired French governesses and nurses. Marigold's death was never blamed on the French governess who took care of her, but the fact that Clementine and Winston were not called for sooner when the child developed a very sore throat made medical help harder to make use of. As a result, Clementine hired her first cousin, Madeline Whyte "Nana" to take charge when Mary was born in 1922. Madeline had trained as a Norland nurse, so was perfectly suited to the job. Plus she was related to the family, and as a result loved and cared for the children and especially Mary as though they were her own. Mary was never sent away to boarding school, and was raised largely at Chartwell, the Churchill estate. Living at home instead of away, she also enjoyed an unusually regular time with her parents. Mary credits Nana's presence in providing the stability and Christian faith that helped her become the faithful and joyful Christian she is today. Mary is the only one of the Churchill children whose life has not come to an end after a major tragedy or great sadness. Mary served in the women's branch of the British army, the Auxillary Territorial Service (ATS) responsible for the home front defense of Britain. She rose to the role of Junior Commander (Captain). At one point she had over 300 young women working under her in an anti-aircraft batteries. In 1945 Mary served as an aide-de-camp to her father at the Postdam Conference. All through her writing, Mary is even and cheerful while never glossing over the difficulties of growing up a Churchill.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alan Shaw

    This is a memoir / part-autobiography of Winston and Clementine Churchill’s youngest child Mary from her birth in 1922 to her marriage in 1947. The memoir focuses almost entirely on her father’s political career, with particular emphasis on his crucial and pivotal role as Prime Minister in WW2. This is viewed from first a domestic and later participatory perspective, after Mary joins the army and is occasionally summoned to travel with her father as an aide. It is full of insights into the workin This is a memoir / part-autobiography of Winston and Clementine Churchill’s youngest child Mary from her birth in 1922 to her marriage in 1947. The memoir focuses almost entirely on her father’s political career, with particular emphasis on his crucial and pivotal role as Prime Minister in WW2. This is viewed from first a domestic and later participatory perspective, after Mary joins the army and is occasionally summoned to travel with her father as an aide. It is full of insights into the workings of the Churchill family, her love and respect for her father, how after an uneasy start she grew very close to her mother, and her determination to do something for the war effort herself, when so easily she might have been little more than an onlooker. Her pride in Winston’s achievements and anguish when he falls ill, or things are going badly is plainly on view. Her aching sadness when he loses the first post-war election is tangible, and the more moving for being related dispassionately. Mary’s relationship with friends, relatives, and household staff – who usually were also seen as friends – is described in personal terms and often includes vignettes direct from her diaries. Family pets get a mention, and the passages describing how the family bends over backwards to ensure the comfort of a remarkable cat are a delight. Internal family disputes, often vitriolic, are also recalled. Many major public figures of the time are described, and we are rarely left in doubt about Mary’s opinion of them. The style is elegant and economical. The author conveys meaning with a minimum number of words, and as such many passages might be text book examples of the art of writing. Guest lists and entries in visiting books are often reproduced, and unavoidably some are quite repetitive. I found this a gripping, entertaining and often moving excursion into how a family with a strong sense of duty chose to exercise it. It is a well illustrated valuable historical archive and a moving description of love, disappointment, failure, and success in one of the most famous and celebrated households of the 20th century. It is also a very good and special read.

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