By: Amy Bloom
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2/13/2018
My Rating: 4 Stars
The unexpected and forbidden affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok unfolds in a triumph of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us.
“I never envied a wife or a husband, until I met Eleanor. Then, I would have traded everything I ever had, every limo ride, every skinny dip, every byline and carefree stroll, for what Franklin had, polio and all.”
Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, “Hick,” as she’s known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as “first friend” is an open secret, as are FDR’s own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick’s bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.
From Washington to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan’s Washington Square, Amy Bloom’s new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.
“Amy Bloom knows the urgency of love,” wrote The Washington Post about Bloom’s acclaimed bestseller Away. The same could be said of White Houses, an unforgettable novel about the power of passion and the endurance of love.
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A special thank you to Random House and LibraryThing for an early reading copy. Review to follow.
“Amy Bloom illuminates one of the most intriguing relationships in history. Lorena Hickok is a woman who found love with another lost soul, Eleanor Roosevelt. And love is what this book is all about: It suffuses every page, so that by the time you reach the end, you are simply stunned by the beauty of the world these two carved out for themselves.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
“It seems a minor miracle, what Amy Bloom has done in White Houses. In Lorena Hickok’s unforgettable voice, she brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away. Easily, the most intimate, crackling, and expansive rendering of Eleanor Roosevelt in print, and, more than this, a dizzyingly beautiful tale of what it means to be human, and what it is to love.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
“A remarkably intimate and yet informative novel of the secret, scandalous love of Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok, who relates the tale in her own, quite wonderful voice.”
– Joyce Carol Oates
“A story that seems to have been invented for Amy Bloom to write: Hidden love, the vagaries of public life, and enduring passion. Her finest novel to date.”
– Caryl Phillips
About the Author
Author of three novels, three collections of short stories, a children’s book and a collection of essays. She has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her best-selling novel, Away, was an epic story about a Russian immigrant. Her most recent and best-selling novel, Lucky Us, (Random House) came out in 2014. She lives in Connecticut and taught at Yale University for the last decade. She is now Wesleyan University’s Distinguished University Writer in Residence.