Saturday, November 19, 2016

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady; Susan Quinn

Susan Quinn - (Penguin - 2016)

Although I knew Eleanor Roosevelt was a well respected and amazing woman, I had never read anything about her life before now. I devoured this book and found it to be very well written.

When FDR became president, the Roosevelt's marriage was already on shaky grounds. His mother threatened to cut ties with her son if he separated from Eleanor so the two remained married yet, in many ways they maintained separate lives. Eleanor had never wanted to assume the role as First Lady. She had a busy independent life but, her unhappiness was difficult to conceal.  FDR had several extramarital affairs before he was stricken with polio while vacationing in Maine.  The couple had six children in ten years. 

Lorena Hickok "Hick" was a reporter for the Associated Press. She later quit her job to become the reporter for the Roosevelt administration. For a number of years she had her own room next to Eleanor in the White House. The women soon became very close.  Confidants, professional advisors, friends and possibly lovers, it was not unusual for the two women to vacation together and take long weekends away.  Their relationship would span some 30 years.

Both woman had very sad childhoods and although Eleanor's family was wealthy, Hick wasn't as lucky. Her mother died when she was just 13 and her father was abusive.  She began working as a maid at the age of 14 when her stepmother kicked her out of the house.

There is so much information in this book about the accomplishments of both FDR and Eleanor that I found fascinating. The photos were wonderful as well and, although this book is 400+ pages, it was a pleasure to read and keep reading.  It's a wonderful story about a 30 year friendship that transformed two women.

The author does an impressive job chronicling not only Eleanor and Hick's relationship through excerpts from letters the two were constantly exchanging.  I felt bad about the fact Hick died several years after Eleanor and that her ashes remained unclaimed.  Her remains were eventually dumped in an unclaimed remains area of a cemetery in Rhinebeck, NY.  Fortunately, on May 10, 2000, some 32 years after her death, a simple ceremony, marker and dogwood tree were placed there and dedicated on her behalf.

5/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

23 comments:

  1. I've been looking forward to this book so I'm glad to see it's so good.

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  2. I'm planning to listen to this one, but will be sure to look at a print copy, too. Don't want to miss out on the photographs! Happy to see your 5 star rating.

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  3. Oh, yes, this is another one to add to my list! It sounds wonderful, and I'm drawn to books about historical figures of the past, especially when little-known facts become available. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Yes, thanks for a great review! I admire Eleanor after visiting Hyde Park and reading about her accomplishments and quotes there in the museum. I have a favorite coffee mug with a drawing of ladies from the forties and a quote about her belief in the power of women to achieve anything. I'll read this!

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  5. This has been on my radar but I hadn't added it to my TBR until this review. This sounds fascinating though I do agree that Hick's end is very sad. I'm glad that she has finally been memorialized in some way both at her grave and in this book.

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  6. That sounds wonderful. We like that lady.

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  7. Wonderful review, Diane! This sounds like an excellent book about Eleanor Roosevelt that underscores the importance of long lasting friendships.

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    1. Thanks so much. Yes, friendships that last are a rarity these days.

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  8. I did not know the history of Eleanor Roosevelt, before I read this book. It was such an emotional, touching story.

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    1. I'm so glad you got the opportunity to read this one.

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  9. Eleanor Roosevelt has always fascinated since she seems like such an intelligent and caring woman who was successful in her own right. This book sounds good and I'll add it to my TBR list. Thank you!

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    1. I wa saver a history buff so, I feel like I learned so much about her life.

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  10. This is high on my list, but I can't decide whether to read the print edition or listen to the audio. I may wind up doing both. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it!!

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  11. I'm so glad to see you gave it a 5 star rating. I'm looking forward to reading about these very interesting people.

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  12. I had to take this back before I was finished with it because someone had a hold on it. I'm patiently waiting to get it back so I can finish it up. I love reading about the Roosevelts.

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