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Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Daughter’s Tale by Mary Soames



This is the loveliest book! I will definitely buy it so I can keep my own copy forever.  It was such a treat to read these reminiscences by Lady Soames, the daughter of the great Winston Churchill.

She begins with an account of her idyllic life at Chartwell in the beautiful countryside.  Here she enjoyed life with a menagerie of animals, watching the antics of her siblings, and riding and even bricklaying with her father.  She felt somewhat isolated from her siblings because she was the youngest and they were several years older so she describes herself as a bit ‘odd’.  However, glamour touched on her life even then.  Important politicians and artists, such as the painter, John Lavery, visited and young Mary had a hand in helping her sister, Sarah, elope!

Life soon became a splendid whirl of dances, balls, and several romances for the young and pretty debutante.  Queen Charlotte’s Ball certainly seems like a fairytale event. Her teenage years were touched by sadness, however.  A broken engagement made her feel guilty and lessened her confidence somewhat.  

Mary Churchill had to grow up impossibly fast when the dark days of the war came.  She describes these eventful years and the impact it had on her father, who became Prime Minister, especially vividly.  Overhearing her father say that women would have to do the work of men now, Mary impetuously decided to join the war effort.  She entered the mixed batteries and eventually became a Junior Commander in charge of over 200 young women.  Although London was under fire and being devastated by terrible bombings, she still managed to have a good time on occasion – there were still visits to nightclubs, romances and enjoyable family occasions.

Some of the most interesting events in the book occur when Mary travels with her father to important conferences in Canada and Berlin.  She is in a position to describe MacKenzie  King, the Prime Minister of Canada, as a ‘cosy old thing’ and Roosevelt as a ‘cute, cunning old bird’!  Her joy at being able to help her father on these occasions shines through the book.

Her agony at watching her father suffer when important battles are lost during the course of the war makes the reader feel for her. Many dreadful events are brought home to the reader in this book, such as the fall of France and the defeat at Tobruk. At one stage Mary even fell to her knees to pray because she was so unhappy about her country’s situation.  

I am not going to write about the ending but most readers will find that it’s one of their favourite parts of this wonderful book.



Lady Mary Soames Talking About Her Mother, Clementine



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