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Summer 2020 Reading Group Indie Next List
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From Marie Benedict, the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room An incredible novel that focuses on one of the people with the most influence during World War I and World War II: Clementine Churchill.
In 1909, Clementine steps off a train with her new husband, Winston. An angry woman emerges from the crowd to attack, shoving him in the direction of an oncoming train. Just before he stumbles, Clementine grabs him by his suit jacket. This will not be the last time Clementine Churchill will save her husband.
Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the ambitious woman beside Winston Churchill, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the sweeping darkness of war, and who would not surrender to expectations or to enemies.The perfect book for fans of: World War I historical fictionNovels about Women Heroes of WWINovels about women hidden by historyBiographical novels about the Churchills
Recommended by People, USA Today, Glamour, POPSUGAR, Library Journal, and more
Also by Marie Benedict:
The Only Woman in the Room
The Other Einstein
Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492666905, 336pp.
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Winston Churchill is one of the most recognizable figures of modern history. What did you know about his personal life before you read Lady Clementine? Did you have any understanding of his wife and children in particular, and did the book challenge any preconceived ideas about his private life?
2. While Clementine’s ancestral background was aristocratic, she grew up in relatively reduced financial circumstances, carrying the additional burdens of a peripatetic childhood and the uncertainty of her paternity. How did her unusual upbringing affect her behavior and opinions? How, in turn, did her belief system and background affect Winston, if at all?
3. Lady Clementine opens with Clementine describing herself as being “set apart” from the rest of society. How did this feeling manifest throughout the novel, and did it change throughout her life? How did this sense of otherness impact her relationship with Winston?
4. Throughout the course of the book, Clementine is transformed from a bright but hesitant and sometimes self-doubting young bride into the formidable wife of the prime minister, with a power base of her own and an impressive list of initiatives. Did Clementine’s metamorphosis surprise you, particularly given the historical limitations of women in the political realm? How did Clementine’s relationship with Winston both further her growth and hinder it? What sacrifices did she have to make in order to become such an influential political wife?
5. While motherhood was different in the time period of the novel and the class in which the Churchills operated, Clementine struggled with it. How would you characterize Clementine as a mother? Did she evolve as a parent over the years? Do you feel that she crossed the line of acceptability, even in the context of her time? How did her relationship with Winston impact her mothering? Compare and contrast modern motherhood with historical motherhood from this time, keeping in mind variations in class.
6. What drew Winston and Clementine together, and how did that change over the decades? How did Winston’s political alliances impact their interactions? What goal united them when their political views weren’t precisely aligned?
7. After she spends time with Eleanor Roosevelt, Clementine comes to a shocking realization about Winston’s view of her identity, or at least the way he presents her identity to the Roosevelts. What is the importance of female relationships in Clementine’s story and in the stories of other strong women?
8. Which, if any, of the characters in Lady Clementine do you find yourself relating to the most? Did you connect with Clementine?
9. What is the most surprising thing you learned about Clementine? Did it relate to her parenting? Her marriage to Winston? Her relationship with Terence Philip on the Rosauro? The amount of time away from her family?
10. Discuss the ways in which Clementine’s life encompassed issues that were not only historic but modern as well.
11. Winston Churchill left an enormous mark on history, and he is credited with saving Britain during World War II—but you now know that Clementine was a deeply influential figure in Winston’s professional and personal life behind the scenes. Do you think he would’ve been as successful if he didn’t have Clementine supporting him? How would you characterize her legacy?