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

di Charlotte Gray

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312783,811 (4.17)3
"The stories of Sara Delano and Jennie Jerome, before and after birthing their sons, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, consecutively."-- Born into upper-class America in the same year, 1854, Sara Delano and Jennie Jerome refused to settle into predictable, sheltered lives as little-known wives to prominent men. In the mid-19th century, 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. A vivacious extrovert, Jennie married Lord Randolph Churchill; her deft maneuvering helped not only her husband but, once she was widowed, her son, Winston. Deeply conventional Sara Delano married a man as old as her father, but once widowed helped Franklin, her only child, acquire the skills he needed to become a successful politician. Gray argues that Jennie and Sara are 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. --… (altro)
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Sara Delano Roosevelt and Jennie Jerome Churchill were the mothers of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. They were both born in the same year, 1854 in the United States to wealth and privilege but that is where the similarities end.
This is a really interesting, insightful and very readable book about two very powerful, determined and influential women.
Sara married widower James Roosevelt, 25 years her senior in 1880 and Jennie married Lord Randolph Churchill in 1874.
They were very different women and mothers. Jennie became part of the upper class through her marriage to Randolph Churchill. She loved the high life and became a very popular guest at country houses. She and Randolph were spendthrifts and were always running up debts to maintain their lifestyles. Winston Churchill inherited this trait. She also gave birth to John (Jack). Her children were left in the care of nannies and boarding schools. She was widowed at a young age and struggled to maintain her lifestyle. When she realized that Winston had a lot of potential, her popularity and intelligence opened many doors as he pursued a career in politics.
Jennie married three times and left her two sons with a lot of debt. She was a very determined, intelligent and vivacious woman and used these qualities for many worthwhile ventures. She died following a tragic accident where she broke her foot.

Sara Delano raised Franklin without the help of nannies and ensured that his home schooled education was thorough. She missed him terribly when he left home for higher learning as he was the centre of her life. The Delano family consisted of many siblings and cousins was a close knit group that socialized frequently. Hyde Park and the Hudson valley in New York was their playground.
Franklin was able to escape the apron strings of his mother when he left for Groton college.
It was a surprise to Sara when Franklin announced his engagement to a distant relative, Eleanor Roosevelt. Sara demanded that the wedding be delayed for a year, they agreed. Sara used her money to influence family dynamics so that she could remain in control. Although she disliked politics, she supported her son’s interest in running for governor and then for president. When he was laid low by polio, she was by his side to provide medical and financial support. when he became president, she was part of the package and drew a great deal of respect from the American public.
When he became president, she was a First Lady by default as the American public loved her son, her positive attitude and open mindedness (this greatly improved when she was exposed to modern thinkers who surrounded her son) Eleanor was happy to have her mother in law in the foreground while she worked on her many projects on improving the lives of the working poor. Sara’s death from heart failure was a tragic event for Franklin and America. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Jun 11, 2024 |
It took a bit to get into this but after 50 pages we were off and away. There are many biographies of Jennie Jerome Churchill but most are written by men who have written her off as an American adventuress, wicked seductress, too promiscuous and a spendthrift. One can see why these claims may be partially true but she also believed her son would one day blossom into a great leader which eventually came true in 1940.

During the Boer War, she outfitted a hospital ship and sailed on it to South Africa. When the British wanted it to return home loaded with wounded, she fought and won to keep it in South Africa to treat soldiers as was originally intended.

Both Jennie and Sara were born in the United States in the same year but went on to live their lives very differently. Sara Delano Roosevelt lived a very proper life focused on preserving her family's reputation and supporting her son Franklin so he could reach his potential. She and her famous daughter-in-law clashed frequently and biographers of Eleanor have frequently painted a negative picture of FDR's mother.

Author Gray wanted to correct the story of both these women explaining their strengths and their importance to their sons' contributions to the 20th Century. ( )
  lamour | Feb 6, 2024 |
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"The stories of Sara Delano and Jennie Jerome, before and after birthing their sons, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, consecutively."-- Born into upper-class America in the same year, 1854, Sara Delano and Jennie Jerome refused to settle into predictable, sheltered lives as little-known wives to prominent men. In the mid-19th century, 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. A vivacious extrovert, Jennie married Lord Randolph Churchill; her deft maneuvering helped not only her husband but, once she was widowed, her son, Winston. Deeply conventional Sara Delano married a man as old as her father, but once widowed helped Franklin, her only child, acquire the skills he needed to become a successful politician. Gray argues that Jennie and Sara are 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. --

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