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Now in her eighty ninth year Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill Younger than her siblings by several years she went to day school and enjoyed an idyllic childhood played out in her very own 'Garden of Eden' Chartwell Here she roamed house and grounds tended diligently to her collection of pets and had her first glimpses of the glittering social world in which her parents moved Then in 1939 Chamberlain's declaration of war dramatically ended this world as she and her family had known itHereafter we follow Mary's life through her fascinating personal diary published here for the first time Through the immediacy of her private observations we are drawn into a world where the ordinary minutiae of a packed family social and romantic life proceed against a background of cataclysmic events Joining the ATS and serving in mixed anti aircraft batteries Mary takes on her own set of professional demands while sharing the many anxieties and stresses brought to bear upon her family through her father's positionThe mutual love and affection between Mary and her parents is evident on every page from her earliest years at Chartwell to Winston's defeat at the 1945 general election when Mary recounts her own pain and devastation on her father's behalf At this point she meets her future husband Christopher Soames We are left in no doubt at the end of this charming and revealing memoir that at twenty four Mary has lived a full life and is well prepared for her future as young wife and mother


10 thoughts on “A Daughters Tale

  1. says:

    First off let me state that this is an audiobook where I feel the narration is the icing on the cake It is extremely good The intonations the happiness and the sadness expressed match the words to a tee French pronunciation is perfect as well as English and American dialects I really really enjoyed the narration Superb A delight to listen to Mary’s memoir is chatty confidential so it is not hard to follow in this formatThis is a book about Mary Soames the youngest child of Winston Churchill Winston and Clementine had four other children One died soon after birth The other three were not nearly as successful or happy It is rather intriguing to think about this I can come up with several reasons but they remain conjectures Alcoholism can be inherited and Winston certainly was a big drinker Mary was also the last child the baby of the family; she scarcely grew up with her siblings or her parents The book shows this in spades And then of course all children are different even brothers and sisters The book depicts in great detail Mary's childhood This part of the book is delightful Pets and trips and sports wonderful teachers a devoted nanny and one to one relationships with adults Yes she was cosseted She was certainly privileged but she never becomes haughty or takes others for granted Meeting her knowing her through this book was a pleasure Mary is optimistic and cheerful She has empathy and humor The humor rolls of the lines So of course it is a delight to read what she writes Oh all these verbs should maybe be in the past tense; she died in 2014 Her personality is reflected in the feeling of the bookIn her teens Mary began to become interested in politics French and English literature drew her and you learn of what she read and what was read to her as a child At an older age she kept detailed diaries The book follows the diary entries closely Letters have also been included What you follow in this book are what she saw and observed and thought of the world she grew up in of the build up to the war and finally the war years You see the numerous dignitaries through her eyes meticulously and amusing recorded in her diary entries Her diary was originally for her eyes alone so what she writes is frank You can’t help but laugh Because she was sweet this is a joy to read She does state when others are grumpy or sour or behave badly but never in a harsh accusing manner It is said and you go on I don't believe she is hiding or holding back unpleasant information She WAS a happy optimistic person at least most of the time She shows respect and empathy for others in times of difficulty so her happiness doesn't seem frivolous or exaggerated The book covers her years during the war first with the WVS Women's Volunteer Service and then the ATS Auxiliary Territorial Service where she rose to the rank of captain in an anti aircraft battery unit There is a lot of flirting and partying too but what you see is the life of women volunteers in the war even if it is clear she was on occasion given special treatment due to the position of her father The book ends after Winston Churchill lost the election in 1945 at the conclusion of the war Soon thereafter she meets and marries her husband The central focus remains her youth and the war yearsMary was very close to her father Through this close relationship you learn about her father too but mostly you learn about Mary You don't read this book to learn history The history is there but only to the extent that she was involved the people she met her battery job and the support she gave her fatherI have read The Last Lion 1 Visions of Glory 1874 1932 That has history It is the first of a trilogy and it was very good but I detested the narration so I haven't continued My review of Manchester's book I still want to know so will now read The Private Lives of Winston ChurchillOther than giving me only one personal perspective and my wanting the only other complaint I have is the author’s excessive use of acronyms


  2. says:

    Oh she has SUCH documentation in diary letters teacher or tutor or nanny's reports etc That's great historical non fiction when you have all numerous family members writing letters all the time too Because WERE THESE PEOPLE ALL OVER THE PLACE Honestly I have rarely read of a family and vast acuaintance circle that traveled this much this wide and this freuently Not just for pleasure but for every aspect of life from education to business to politics to combatWinston comes alive as much as Mary does Also I give her huge kudos for her service and the ability she has to not put down or dis anyone to any legitimate degree It's as if she can't be mean regardless if that was the reverse Perhaps if she was a Southern USA girl she would be saying Bless Their Heart about some of the key figures in her early and middle life especiallyThe first half was greatly enjoyed The second half not close to the same joy onus posit of the rocket of the first And I wish she would have gone far into Soames and their coupleshipGood book but honestly not even a cipher on The Splendid and the Vile by Larson which I read just two months ago If I hadn't read that first I would have NEVER gotten 12 of this nuance AND ambiance of true what is going on here because Mary iswas will ever be just too nice and doesn't always give a base outcome picture Larson is the truth teller especially upon Randolph and both of Mary's parents AS parents What a life And I was SO shocked when she took her Army role so far and so long as she didBut really I cannot imagine the levels of professional entertainment celeb travel contextcontent of eyes to all structures dozens no scores of places Mary Clementine Winston lived for decades times two or three while they were poor? Huh? And usually than not it was NOT living with each other or spouse either In both books the poor mouthing of all the Churchills And their lack of any financial scale at the same time? Hard to describe Can't imagine what they'd live eat wear ride travel to or experience if they DID have proper funds LOL The liuor cellar costs alone IMHO are mind boggling Any legacy there was one big one from a distant relative to Winston was spent nearly immediately With Mary being the youngest of 5 too with much much older siblings Frugality has another whole meaning to this class and place IMHO35 stars rounded up for her excellent child and teen years recall and documentation depth But if you want to read a truer picture of the crux time read the Larson one I noted above


  3. says:

    In an age when so many memoirs by children of famous or even not famous parents are actually just tell all indictments about dysfunctional parenting and miserable childhoods and are riddled with tales of stories ofabuse and rife with accusation this memoir is none of the above which is thoroughly refreshing Mary Soames nee Churchill makes it clear from the very start of the book that she loved and respected her parents regardless of their faults Whatever dysfunction andor disappointment there was is alluded to briefly if mentioned at all and never dwelled on If anything the book is perhaps a bit too saccharine glossing over disappointments and challenges others might have dwelled on The real pay off however are the chapters describing the pre WWII and war years of the 30s and 40s when Soames had a front row view of history She met and knew some of the greatest 'actors' participating in perhaps the most dramatic period of the 20th century; on occasion she accompanied her father to secret meetings with the likes of Stalin and FDR; she worked in what was then rarea malefemale anti bomb suad where she rose to the rank of captain; and simply because of her social standing she was friends with nobles and dignitaris and even on than one occasion dined with the King and ueenThis isn't a great book and is in all honesty a bit lightweightbut it offers a view into a life at the active sidelines of an extraordinary couple during an extraordinary time


  4. says:

    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 ChurchillShe 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 elopeLife soon became a splendid whirl of dances balls and several romances for the young and pretty debutante ueen 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 occasionsSome 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 bookHer 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


  5. says:

    I recently read this book before going to London and visiting Churchill's WWII bunker at the Churchill War Museum and going to Chartwell where he lived with his wife and children Having read Mary Soames' book before going made these places come alive for me She was an extraordinary woman who loved her father deeply and who was part of a fascinating time in history I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in learning about Churchill and the British experience of WWII I would also highly recommend going to the Churchill War Museum and visiting Chartwell which is a beautiful estate where you can see not only the home where they lived and the gorgeous grounds but also Churchill's artwork The book was made even poignant by the fact that Lady Soames who was the youngest and last remaining of the Churchill children died just a few days before I left for the UK


  6. says:

    A good historical narrative from an insider source her family is uite remarkable


  7. says:

    Often the celebrity family memoir is either a distasteful tell all or a yawn inducing whitewash This book leans white washy but it is by no means boring The answer to my freuent uestion while reading any book — would I like to invite this author over for dinner? — is a resounding Yes Since the author died in 2014 I'd be delighted to have dinner with one of her five childrenMary Soames is the child of consolation of Winston and Clementine Churchill born after the death of their toddler daughter Marigold Mary was 8 11 and 13 years younger than her older siblings Beloved and adored she inherited the best ualities of both her parents This book covers her early life up to her marriage in 1947 to Christopher Soames More than just a memoir of the child of a famous person it is a portrait of a long ago time in England it has to be in England when a nanny named Nana read for hours to her charge and teenage friends memorize a Shakespeare sonnet each day Soames expounds on books she loved and the Victorian religious stories she didn't At the end of each of these busily and happily occupied days came an evening ritual — reading aloud This was a treasured highlight of my routine and my greatest punishment was to be depriced of this great treat Starting after teatime Nana would read to me; when bedtime arrived we adjourned upstairs and the reading continued while I undressed folding my clothes carefully; we then removed to the adjacent bathroom where I took as long as possible to wash — tiresome interruptions to the narrative being occasioned by very necessary knee scrubbings Swathed in a towel I would try to spin time out Oh we must finish the chapter — pleaseNana seemed an inexhaustible reader and throughout my nursery years I listened enthralled to her renderings of many books—some of them favourites with my grandchildren's generation still all of Beatrix Potter and the Christopher Robins; then Black Beauty I remember sobbing into my face flannel over poor Ginger's story; The Cuckoo Clock and The Tapestry Room by Mrs Molesworth; Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and Charles Kingleys The Water Babies—and of course JM Barrie's Peter PanShe also writes about her childhood faith raised by her nanny to say prayers guided by a vicar at a neighboring church rooted and grounded in the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible All in all this was a winsome read And now I'm combing through YouTube clips of Mary Soames speaking


  8. says:

    uite enjoyable peek into personal life of the Churchill family from the perspective of the youngest Churchill daughter Mary Covers the period of time from her birth until her marriage two years after the end of WW2My only uibble is how she refers to her parents she jumps around from Mummie and Papa to Winston and Clementine pretty much randomly She also removes herself from some situations with her siblings older brother Randolph older sisters Diana and Sarah by saying things like his father was upset when it would make sense in my opinion to say Our father was upset Still for History buffs and Churchill fans this is a great book


  9. says:

    I have not read many memoirs I have probably never really read many in my life nor will I ever read many in my days to come It's not a genre I know very well or have much interest in most of the time My boyfriend always says he bleeds milkshakes and I think the same could be said for me and fantasy That's not to say I don't understand or get the point of a good bioautobioetc I do I just have a lack of interest most of the time and honestly prefer something with a little magic to my story PAnyway A Daughter's Tale is by no means the worst book autobio or not that I've had the displeasure of reading but is definitely by no means something I'd recommend to anyone other than a Churchill historian or someone interested in the day to day on goings of WSC And that is precisely the problem A Daughter's Tale is sadly not really about Mary Soames or her relationship with her parents or siblings Instead it is a rather surface look at the social life of WSC and his family Details about people fashion and even food hold precedence while Mrs Soames carefully and uncritically writes about her family life almost shallowly Her personal feelings are minimally if ever discussed or reflected on while moments where her family is behaving less than admirably are passed over just as uickly and even in a few cases explanations are left unsaid Soames's narrative is almost a contradiction somewhat as it attempts to present negative aspects of her now dead family yet attempts to protect them from this at the same time Her relationships with her father and mother are probably some of the most interesting aspects of Soames's narrative especially in relation to their near constant absence for most of Soames's life Her relation with her older siblings is another aspect that's certainly intriguing especially regarding their vast differences in age and Soames's misguided attempts to be involved in their lives In addition to this is Soames's nearly invisible narrative regarding her weight an aspect about herself that is mentioned not only by other people but even indirectly by Soames's mother and even Soames herself There's also this weird emphasis on fashion especially regarding WSC that's just odd Seriously I'm not here to read about Winston's matching slippers as exciting as that may seem Well looks like I've got enough to talk about for my seminar 255


  10. says:

    A fascinating slice of history from Mary Soames Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter It covers her childhood through the end of World War 2 and gives a different perspective on Churchill and the rest of the family Her trips with Churchill to foreign countries during the war for conferences were fascinating I hadn’t realized that he traveled so much And her own experiences as a member of the ATS are also interesting Based on her diaries and letters I found this a very readable memoir and would recommend it for anyone interested in the period or in the life of a great man from a daughter’s perspective