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.
(sent by publisher)