Thursday, December 4, 2014

Staff Pick - A Daughter's Tale by Mary Soames

Mary Soames passed away this year. She left behind a number of books about her famous mother and father - Clementine and Winston Churchill - and her most recent work,
A Daughter's Tale: the memoir of Winston Churchill's youngest child, described her work during World War II.

Soames had a privileged upbringing during a time when many ancient and once wealthy families had already moved away from the Downton Abbey life of stately homes and servants. Not so for the Churchills. Soames grew up acquainted with the likes of T.E. Lawrence in a world which necessitated many changes of clothing each day and servants while traveling. Although the youngest of three siblings, she grew up essentially as an only child as the age gap was so great. She was the comfort of older parents having followed an another sibling who died as a baby.

Soames describes an idealized childhood living on the family estate at Chartwell surrounded by a menagerie of barnyard and domestic animals and growing up the midst of intellectuals, artists and decision makers.  Her relationship with her mother was close but ambivalent, but towards her father she was practically worshipful - both at the time and at the end of her life. The majority of the memoir focused on her time with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, which she described as the best decision of her life. She worked hard and her comforts were as basic as the other recruits, but her time in the service was not untouched by her family's fame.

Her story was based on a life time of reflection and enlivened by her journal entries and contemporary letters, giving a young girl's perspective on a most pivotal point of 20th century history and an insider's view of the private side of this public and influential family.

For another wartime memoir try Funny How Things Turn Out: 100 years of Mother and me by Judith Bruce

And for other reflections of daughters about their remarkable fathers consider Sammy Davis Jr: a personal journey with my father by Tracey Davis, and Part Swan, Part Goose: an uncommon memoir of womanhood, work and family by Swoosie Kurtz

No comments:

Post a Comment