Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Relationship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley

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Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's marriage was famously difficult, and it is widely known that FDR enjoyed the company of women. But this remarkable book reveals a secret that has been carefully guarded for more than half a century: Roosevelt's closest companion during the last years of his life was his sixth cousin Margaret "Daisy" Suckley. Astonishingly, the secret of this intimate relationship remained hidden until after Daisy's death in 1991, when her friends found a battered black suitcase under her bed. ...
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Overview

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's marriage was famously difficult, and it is widely known that FDR enjoyed the company of women. But this remarkable book reveals a secret that has been carefully guarded for more than half a century: Roosevelt's closest companion during the last years of his life was his sixth cousin Margaret "Daisy" Suckley. Astonishingly, the secret of this intimate relationship remained hidden until after Daisy's death in 1991, when her friends found a battered black suitcase under her bed. Stuffed inside were years of diaries and letters, including thirty-eight letters in FDR's own hand that no one had ever seen. As affecting as it is eye-opening, Closest Companion provides dramatic new insight into the character and private life of the century's greatest president.

An eminent historian and biographer, Ward has woven the diaries and letters, discovered after Margaret Suckley's death in 1991 in a battered suitcase under her bed, into a love story unlike any other. As affecting as it is eye-opening, this book provides dramatic new insight into the private life of one of this century's greatest presidents.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Margaret ("Daisy") Suckley, Franklin D. Roosevelt's distant cousin and the archivist at his Hyde Park, N.Y., library, was a frequent companion of the president at the White House, yet until now the depth of their warm friendship was not realized. When she died at 99 in 1991, friends found under her bed a suitcase stuffed with thousands of pages of her diaries, and letters to and from FDR, dating from 1933 until his death in 1945. Skillfully distilled and woven together by acclaimed Roosevelt biographer Ward, these writings detail her adoration and love of FDR and his great affection toward her in the course of a relationship that for a time spilled over into giddy flirtation. Included are 38 never-before-seen letters from Roosevelt to Suckley that provide an invaluable portait of FDR in his off-hours. A measure of the extraordinary trust he placed in Suckley is that he confided to her details of his secret meeting with Churchill off Canada's coast in August 1941 and of the impending D-Day invasion, as well as his frustrations with his job and his plans for the postwar world. Photos.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Margaret (``Daisy'') Suckley, Franklin D. Roosevelt's distant cousin and the archivist at his Hyde Park, N.Y., library, was a frequent companion of the president at the White House, yet until now the depth of their warm friendship was not realized. When she died at 99 in 1991, friends found under her bed a suitcase stuffed with thousands of pages of her diaries, and letters to and from FDR, dating from 1933 until his death in 1945. Skillfully distilled and woven together by acclaimed Roosevelt biographer Ward, these writings detail her adoration and love of FDR and his great affection toward her in the course of a relationship that for a time spilled over into giddy flirtation. Included are 38 never-before-seen letters from Roosevelt to Suckley that provide an invaluable portait of FDR in his off-hours. A measure of the extraordinary trust he placed in Suckley is that he confided to her details of his secret meeting with Churchill off Canada's coast in August 1941 and of the impending D-Day invasion, as well as his frustrations with his job and his plans for the postwar world. Photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Margaret Lynch Suckley, or "Daisy" as she was fondly called by Franklin Roosevelt, was the president's closest companion during his final years. Shortly after her death at age 100 in 1991, friends discovered her secret diary, many letters she wrote to FDR, and the 38 letters he wrote to her. Suckley's papers, skillfully edited by Roosevelt biographer Ward, reveal a mutual relationship of love, trust, and discretion, unlikely to be found in today's kiss-and-tell memoirs. As a confidante and probable lover, Daisy was unconditionally trusted by Roosevelt. He even informed her of the plans for the D-Day invasion. However, much of Daisy's diaries and letters to and from FDR deal with less pressing concerns-descriptions of seasonal changes, parties, FDR's cruises, and the antics of the Scottish terrier Fala, a gift from Daisy. These entries are repetitive and often tedious. More fascinating are the anecdotes about Churchill and Roosevelt and FDR's sad decline and death in 1945. Suckley's writings show a relaxed, not often documented, side of FDR and a likable, modest woman who lived for and loved Roosevelt. Recommended for large history collections.-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Ilene Cooper
This sounds a lot racier than it is. Still, the diaries of FDR's cousin and companion Margaret "Daisy" Suckley (and Roosevelt's letters to her) offer an interesting look at both an era and one of its most important figures. Roosevelt came to know Suckley when he was recovering from infantile paralysis at his Hyde Park home. Eventually, their relationship became more intense, though its exact nature remains elusive. In any case, the duo became fast friends who exchanged long letters, spoke on the telephone, and even sent one another valentines. Of course, FDR was the star of Suckley's diaries, and one of the book's weaknesses is how tedious the diaries become when he's not around. One element that doesn't bore are the letters Suckley received from Roosevelt's other dear companion, Lucy Rutherford. Despite the feelings both women have for FDR, there seems to be little jealousy between them but rather an agreement to share and share alike. Although Doris Kearns Goodwin's "No Ordinary Time" (1994) has much more oomph, these papers (found under Suckley's bed when she died) make an interesting adjunct.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395660805
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/12/1995
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 1.52 (d)

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