That Churchill Woman

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That Churchill Woman

The Paris Wife meets PBS’s Victoria in this enthralling novel of the life and loves of one of history’s most remarkable women: Winston Churchill’s scandalous American mother, Jennie Jerome.

Wealthy, privileged, and fiercely independent New Yorker Jennie Jerome took Victorian England by storm when she landed on its shores. As Lady Randolph Churchill, she gave birth to a man who defined the twentieth century: her son Winston. But Jennie—reared in the luxury of Gilded Age Newport and the Paris of the Second Empire—lived an outrageously modern life all her own, filled with controversy, passion, tragedy, and triumph.

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Chapter One

She was the last woman to enter the drawing room at Sandringham that Thursday night, hurrying down the stairs in her black satin slippers, one slim hand adjusting a glove. She’d kept the Prince of Wales’s guests waiting a full quarter hour while her maid, Sharpe, finished dressing her hair. The cream-and-gold room was filled with the chatter of her most intriguing enemies and friends. The men were elegant in black evening dress and the ladies like a bouquet of tulips in their draped pastel gowns. Every head turned as Jennie Churchill swept through the doorway. The genteel chatter ceased. More than one gentleman ran his eyes the length of her figure; a few women gasped. Was her appearance that spectacular?

She glanced at her reflection in the towering looking glass over the mantle. She had ordered the blood-red damask from Worth in Paris, and it was the very latest fashion: skirt gathered flat against her pelvis and flared at the rear in a half bustle, with a demi-train that flirted across Sandringham’s Aubusson carpets. Falls of black lace and jet graced the plunging neckline. Sharpe had piled her thick black hair high on her head and left a few curls trailing at the nape. A seven-pointed Cartier star glittered with diamonds on her brow. It was the only jewel Jennie owned, but she was famous for it.

Yes. That spectacular.

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Illustration © John Singer Sargent

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