Winter 1957-58 (Age 83)

Churchill would have loved his own villa on the Riviera. He usually spent winters at La Capponcina, owned by Lord Beaver-brook; or at La Pausa, a large house with a magnificent view of Monte Carlo, owned by Emry Reves, a literary agent who handled foreign language rights of the War Memoirs (Woods A123) and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (A138). Before going south, WSC arranged with Beaverbrook to show some of his paintings in the United States, at the request of President Eisenhower; these were also shown in the Beaverbrook Gallery, University of New Brunswick, Canada.

In the middle of January Sir Winston went to stay at La Pausa. On 18 January the British press reported that Sarah had been arrested in California, and charged with being drunk. This was distressing to her parents but Lady Soames writes that Sir Winston was beginning to “acquire a degree of insulation from sad and unpleasant news about those he loved.” Sarah visited WSC at La Pausa in February and Lady Churchill joined them a few days later.

On 17 February Sir Winston lunched with Aristotle Onassis on his yacht and expressed a desire to go to Monte Carlo to gamble, but a chest cold rapidly developed into pneumonia. Within a day, Lord Moran was summoned from England. Sir Winston responded to treatment but “with hindsight,” writes Lady Soames, “one realizes that this illness marked a turning point from which his health and strength began a gentle but inexorable decline.” Field Marshal Montgomery paid a “tonic” visit on 18 March. Despite a recurrence of the pneumonia and an attack of jaundice, WSC was well enough to return to Chartwell in time for Easter.

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