The Churchill Sisters by Dr. Rachel Trethewey (History / Biography)

Writing: 3/5 Coverage: 4/5 Accessibility: 5/5

This is the story of Winston Churchill’s three daughters: Diana, Sarah, and Mary. The author pulls together a pretty decent narrative from personal diaries, articles, and massive amounts of correspondence between family members and friends. Unlike fictionalized history (which I hate), she never pretends to know what a character is thinking or feeling, although she does occasionally opine about things that “must have been difficult” or provides context about what kind of behavior was “normal” for that time and place.

I found this easy and interesting to read. I did have to ask myself what made it interesting. While Sarah was a reasonably well known actress, neither of the other sisters accomplished anything particularly spectacular. It was kind of like watching Downton Abbey — these sisters were able to lead very interesting lives because their father was who he was and we get to live vicariously. And they were interesting lives! They each were able to travel with him (often his wife was unavailable), met many heads of state including FDR and “Uncle” Joe Stalin, and be present for some important pieces of history such as the Yalta conference.

There was plenty of discussion of psychology and the changing role for women in society. Plenty of heartbreak and insight into how the other half lived and plenty of factual tidbits that were surprising, yet not important enough to bring out in more official histories (eg the squalor including bedbugs at the Yalta conference — yuck!)

Worth reading.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on November 23rd, 2021.