That Churchill Woman
Book Review - That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron
Since I read this book so soon after reading A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler I can’t help but compare the two books and the two women’s stories. Jennie Churchill (best known as Winston Churchill’s mother) and Alva Vanderbilt were both incredibly strong and resilient women who were determined to the make the best of their place in life. They were both married to men with resources, so they lived very privileged lives. But both of their marriages were loveless, at least in the way Western society expects today, and both women were in-love with men other than their husbands. Whereas Alva showed her strength by divorcing her husband, Jennie showed her strength through her loyalty to a man who she once loved and admired. It seems that neither women regretted their choices.
I found That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron to be more densely packed with historic information than Therese Anne Fowler’s book, which I found to be a slightly easier read focused more on Alva’s personal life than the larger issues happening in the world at the time. I LOVED how the two stories overlapped and how Alva made brief appearances in Jennie Churchill’s story. There were a few other characters from A Well-Behaved Woman that made appearances in That Churchill Woman, including Alva’s best friend, Consuelo, and her second husband’s father, August Belmont. And at the very beginning of the book, in the prelude, Violet Bonham Carter (Helena Bonham Carter’s grandmother) made a brief appearance discussing the death of Jennie Churchill. From the very beginning of that Churchill Woman I found myself Googling the characters to see their pictures and find out how they were related.
I grew up in Jefferson City, MO, just a 30 minute drive from the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, MO. You may wonder why a British politician has a museum in a small Missouri town. According to their website, “In 1946 it was at Westminster College that Winston Churchill delivered one of the most significant speeches of his long and illustrious career. That address, formally entitled, "Sinews of Peace," but best known for that evocative phrase, "An Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent", effectively marked the beginning of the Cold War and linked, forever, Fulton and Westminster College with Winston Churchill.” So this was the obvious place to take photos for this book review. It doesn’t hurt that the museum is located in an absolutely beautiful building.