Memoir of the youngest child of Winston Churchill, focused largely on the years encompassing World War II.
Countless books have been written about Churchill, and even this memoir is only the latest book that Soames (Clementine Churchill, 2002, etc.) has written or edited about her family’s history. As the baby of the family, born in 1922, she is Churchill’s only surviving child, and she delivers a rare eyewitness account of her father. However, readers looking for an emotionally engaging look at the Churchill family’s private lives will be disappointed. Soames clearly worshipped her father, but she appears not to have known him on a deep emotional level. Indeed, other than a few airy letters, the author shares relatively little direct communication between them. She draws heavily on journals and letters she wrote during her young womanhood, in which she apparently had a habit of recounting the menus of lunches and dinners in great detail. Though famous figures make appearances, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, T.E. Lawrence and Charlie Chaplin, Soames rarely judges anyone as less than utterly charming, nor does she provide particularly useful information about historical events. The memoir becomes marginally more interesting in later chapters, as when Soames recounts her stint serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the war, and especially when she briefly tells of her visit to the liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. However, Soames rarely delves much below the surface of things, keeping events (and emotions) strictly at arm’s length—which often makes for dreary reading.
A lackluster memoir, of interest only to the most devoted Churchill aficionados.