Reading group notes THAT WOMAN

  1. Why has Wallis been demonised for so long?
  2. What factors have contributed to a reassessment? Do you think revisionism is justified?
  3. Why might Wallis have been seen as pro- Nazi?
  4. To what extent was her Americanism part of the problem? Can you understand why for some in America Wallis has always been a heroine?
  5. What characteristics of Wallis’s personality are admirable?
  6. How do you explain the attitude of the Queen Mother towards Wallis and towards Wallis and Edward?
  7. Was the denial of royal honours for Wallis justified in the circumstances or vindictive?
  8. Why has Edward V111 been so little criticised?
  9. Why are duty and pluck no longer revered compared with today’s goals such as ambition and personal fulfilment?
  10. Has our attitude towards divorce changed for the better?
  11. What about some of the other characters in my story: Why do you think Winston Churchill behaved as he did? Was Mary an admirable character?
  12. What role do you think was played by the wives of politicians such as Lucy Baldwin, Nancy Dugdale Helen Hardinge and Hilda Runciman and why do you think their views have not been taken into account before?
  13. Which of the characters do you feel most sympathy for: Mary, Ernest, Henry/Aharon, Aunt Bessie, Alan ‘Tommy’ Lascelles?
  14. Which of the characters do you feel should have done more to understand or guide Edward earlier in his life e.g. his parents, his private secretaries, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders or his girlfriends?
  15. Do you agree that Wallis performed a useful service by delivering a new monarch for such critical times?
  16. How should she be remembered? As a style icon and if so why? Describe her style. Or as a victim and if so why?
  17. Do you believe every generation has a different attitude to key personalities according to historical context?

Jennie Churchill – Some Areas for a Book Club Discussion

  1. Was Jennie a bad mother? if so did she become a better mother?
    Did she only become interested in WSC when he grew more interesting? Can any parent be truly disinterested in their children’s future?
  2. Can you justify her anti-suffrage stance?
  3. What did Winston inherit from his Mother and Jerome genes or from his father and Marlborough genes? Did he at any stage exploit his American inheritance merely for political gain?
  4. Was Winston manipulative as a child?
  5. Why do you think he wrote about his mother in the way that he did as a distant mother in MY Early LIFE?
  6. Do you think Winston’s brother Jack got a raw deal because he was not demanding enough?
  7. Was Jennie extravagant, selfish and privileged or did she do the best she could with the fist History dealt her?
  8. Ethics of biography… what right does the biographer have to pry into medical records? Does patient confidentiality extend beyond the grave?
  9. Do you like Jennie more or less than you thought you would before reading this? Is the book fair to Randolph or does the biographer take a position?
  10. What would you like to know more about? And do you think Jennie developed as a character?
  11. How important was the historical background for Jennie’s story? eg The American Civil War, the Siege of Paris, the Boer War and World War 1?
  12. What if…. Jennie had lived fifty years later?