Book Review of Marie Benedict’s Lady Clementine

It was a joy to read the newest novel by Marie Benedict, Lady Clementine.  It’s a great personal story about the strong woman who was fundamental in the making of the historical figure of Winston Churchill in a time when woman’s political rolls were only to entertain.   

Through the story, as told my Clementine herself, we get a personal account of the history of two world wars through her eyes.  From the time she and Winston meet through the end of the Second World War, we see her fears, frustrations, idiosyncrasies, and insights into what she is witnessing during this integral time in world history, from politics, the people, as well as her personal life with her husband and children. 

Clementine and Winston shared liberal political views, which drew them together into a whirlwind romance and marriage despite their age difference.  She became a vital part of creating the orator that Winston was as she helped with his speeches.  These discourses were vital in his initial rise during WWI from a Member of Parliament to become the First Lord of the Admiralty and more so upon his return to power as Prime Minister during WWII. 

It’s interesting to see her struggle with her personal issues she refers to as “nerves” in dealing with her husband and the demands he places on her. The requirements of Winston, that she loves being a part of, but takes its toll when she doesn’t take time for herself.  Through the story, we see her becoming aware of her health and needs as well as insisting that she be allowed to care for herself.

It’s remarkable to hear her discuss the fact that she did not feel motherly to her five children. A disconnect she believed was due to the relationship, or lack there was, with her unrestrained and self-indulgent mother.  The awareness that her lack of maternal instincts, especially after the death of their daughter, may unduly affect her children negatively, sees her change how she handles their rearing. 

It’s a fast-paced story in line with the quick stride of Clemmie, as Winston called her, as she used her power of persuasion with dignitaries and offered pointed advice to her husband based on the welfare of their country.  Duty-bound, but also restricted as a woman, she took on roles that allowed women to rise and participate more prominently in the war effort. 

When speaking with the author, Marie Benedict, at a book signing at Fox Tale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA, she noted the amount of research she did for her to attempt to get into Clementine’s mind to understand this exceptional humanitarian and unstoppable force in her own right. 

Although before reading this captivating book, I didn’t know much about this remarkable woman, I came away with a better understanding of the difficulties this particular woman had in making history during a tumult time.  Lady Clementine is a great universal story of the struggle of a woman having to overcome barriers in front of her due to the assumptions and ignorance of her abilities, and that of all women. 

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