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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 who had 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 either to expectations or to enemies.
Also by Marie Benedict:
The Only Woman in the Room
The Other Einstein
Praise for Lady Clementine:
"Benedict is a true master at weaving the threads of the past into a compelling story for today. Here is the fictionalized account of the person who was the unequivocal wind beneath Winston Churchill's wings -- a woman whose impact on the world-shaper that was WW2 has been begging to be told. A remarkable story of remarkable woman."--Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War
"The atmospheric prose of Marie Benedict draws me in every single time. Lady Clementine's powerful and spirited story is both compelling and immersive. Benedict fully inhabits the measured and intelligent voice of Clementine Churchill. Entranced throughout, I discovered the secrets behind a familiar story I thought I knew. Deftly moving from the early nineteen hundreds through World War II, Benedict skillfully paints a vivid picture of the times and life of Clementine, the remarkable woman who was the steady force beside Winston Churchill." --Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis
"In her latest novel, Lady Clementine, Marie Benedict has gifted us all with another thoughtful and illuminating behind-the-scenes look at one of history's most unusual and extraordinary women. Benedict stuns readers with a glorious assortment of Clementine Churchill's most personal secrets: her scandalous childhood, her unexpected role as a social outsider, her maternal insecurities, and the daily struggles she faces to smooth her husband's political blunders and to keep up with his relentless demands for guidance and attention. With a historian's eye and a writer's heart, Benedict provides an unforgettable glimpse into the private world of a brilliant woman whose impact and influence on world events deserves to be acknowledged."--Lynda Cohen Loigman, USA TODAY author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters
Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492666936, 416pp.
Publication Date: July 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?