White Houses

Amy Bloom,
White Houses

When I read an advance review of this book, I immediately got onto Candelo Books to order my copy. I have been a huge fan of Eleanor Roosevelt all my life so I was excited to see a new book on her. Eleanor and Franklin entered the White House in 1933, living through one of the most tumultuous times in American history – the Great Depression followed by World War II. As war-time President, Franklin didn’t live to see peace in 1945, but Eleanor went on to play a critical role in the post-war struggle for international order and universal human rights.
White Houses, however, concentrates not so much on her role as a giant in public life, but on her relationship with her long-time lover, Lorena Hicks (Hicks to her friends). The story is told from the point of view of Hicks, and she certainly opens your eyes to the back-room politics of the era, and to its scandals. Both Eleanor and Franklin conducted extra-marital affairs, but throughout remained faithful and respectful to each other. It is hard to see how he would have achieved his remarkable presidency without her. She, on the other hand, after his death, grew into the most loved and respected First Lady in America’s history, an advisor to future Presidents and world leaders, and an inspiration to human rights activists around the world.
I must admit, as an Eleanor groupie, I was disappointed there wasn’t more of her public life in this new book, but, as one friend said, that wasn’t the book Amy Bloom was writing. So I went back and re-read biographies I had of her that I hadn’t opened for years—always a sign of a worthwhile read.
Happy reading over the Christmas break, and thanks again to the team at The Triangle for enabling the monthly review.