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9781668031988

Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781668031988

  • ISBN10:

    1668031981

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2024-09-17
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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Summary

A “spectacular…brilliantly and magnetically written” (Rosalie Abella, former Canadian Supreme Court justice) dual biography of two famous women whose sons would change the course of the 20th century—by award-winning historian Charlotte Gray.

Born into upper-class America in the same year, 1854, Sara Delano (later to become the mother of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Jennie Jerome (later to become the mother of Winston Churchill) refused to settle into predictable, sheltered lives as little-known wives to prominent men. Instead, both women concentrated much of their energies on enabling their sons to reach the epicenter of political power on two continents.

In the mid-19th century, the British Empire was at its height, France’s Second Empire flourished, and the industrial vigor of the United States of America was catapulting the republic towards the Gilded Age. Sara and Jennie, raised with privilege but subject to the constraints of women’s roles at the time, learned how to take control of their destinies—Sara in the prosperous Hudson Valley, and Jennie in the glittering world of Imperial London.

Yet their personalities and choices were dramatically different. A vivacious extrovert, Jennie married Lord Randolph Churchill, a rising politician and scion of a noble British family. Her deft social and political maneuverings helped not only her mercurial husband but, once she was widowed, her ambitious son, Winston. By contrast, deeply conventional Sara Delano married a man as old has her father. But once widowed, she made Franklin, her only child, the focus of her existence. Thanks in large part to her financial support and her guidance, Franklin acquired the skills he needed to become a successful politician.

Set against one hundred years of history, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons is a “brilliantly conceived and wonderfully written” (Bob Rae, author of What’s Happened to Politics?) study in loyalty and resilience. Gray argues that Jennie and Sara are too often presented as lesser figures in the backdrop of history rather than as two remarkable individuals who were key in shaping the characters of the sons who adored them and in preparing them for leadership on the world stage.

Impeccably researched and filled with intriguing social insights, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons breathes new life into Sara and Jennie, offering a fascinating and fulsome portrait of how leaders are not just born but made.

Author Biography

Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers and the author of twelve acclaimed books of literary nonfiction, including The Promise of Canada. Her bestseller The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country won the Toronto Book Award, the Heritage Toronto Book Award, the Canadian Authors Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History, and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book. It was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, the Ottawa Book Award for Nonfiction, and the Evergreen Award, and it was longlisted for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Nonfiction. An adaptation of her bestseller Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike was broadcast as a television miniseries. An adjunct research professor in the department of history at Carleton University, Charlotte has received numerous awards, including the Pierre Berton Award for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Visit her at CharlotteGray.ca.

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