Lucyby Ellen Feldman
An utterly absorbing novel about a famous political marriage and an epic infidelity.On the eve of World War I, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fiercely ambitious and still untouched by polio, falls in love with his wife's social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Eleanor stumbles on their letters and divorce is discussed, but honor and ambition/p>… See more details below
An utterly absorbing novel about a famous political marriage and an epic infidelity.On the eve of World War I, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fiercely ambitious and still untouched by polio, falls in love with his wife's social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Eleanor stumbles on their letters and divorce is discussed, but honor and ambition win out. Franklin promises he will never see Lucy again.
But Franklin and Lucy do meet again, and again they fall in love. As he prepares to run for an unprecedented third term and lead America into war, Franklin turns to Lucy for the warmth and unconditional approval Eleanor is unable to give.
Ellen Feldman brings a novelist's insight to bear on the connection of these three compelling characters. Franklin and Lucy did finally meet, across the divide of his illness and political ascendancy, her marriage and widowhood. They fell in love again. As he prepared to run for an unprecedented third term and lead America into war, Franklin turned to Lucy for the warmth and unconditional approval Eleanor was unable to give.
Drawing on recently discovered materials to re-create the voice of a woman who played a crucial but silent role in the Roosevelt presidency, Lucy is a remarkably sensitive exploration of the private lives behind a public marriage. Reading group guide included.
Library JournalA "super read," claims the publicist, this first novel re-creates FDR's love affair with his wife's social secretary. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsHistorical about the love affair between FDR and Lucy Mercer, from Lucy's point of view. Lucy, whose prominent Catholic family has fallen into genteel poverty, takes a job in 1914 as Eleanor Roosevelt's social secretary. Franklin is Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and the Roosevelts are ensconced in happy if cramped domesticity in Washington. FDR's ambitions lie just below the surface, while Eleanor's politics have not yet taken shape-she doesn't even support women's suffrage. Lucy idolizes Eleanor, though, and Feldman (God Bless the Child, 1998, etc.), who also writes as Elizabeth Villars, sketches a charming and bittersweet picture of the two rather similar young women sitting on a carpet surrounded by envelopes, their loss of innocence is soon to come. Although a mutual attraction develops between Franklin and Lucy, nothing untoward happens at first. But war looms, Eleanor goes away with the children, and the sexual tension rises. Lucy increasingly describes Eleanor as a socially conscious but personally insensitive wife driving her husband away by not catering adequately to his needs. Finally, Lucy and Franklin consummate their love in a tawdry roadside motel, and he vows to leave Eleanor-who, when she finds a stash of Lucy's love letters, offers Franklin his freedom. But he places ambition over love and stays put. Lucy shows not the slightest anger over this rejection, although she later views FDR's polio as God's punishment to them both. She marries a wealthy older man she professes to love and spends the next 20 years in the lap of luxury. Then, on the eve of WWII, when she brings her ailing husband to Washington for treatment, she and FDR pick up where they left off, more or less(sex is not mentioned), and he dies with Lucy by his side. In this retelling, Franklin comes across as surpassingly selfish, Eleanor as pathetic, and Lucy as annoyingly saintly. Highly romanticized, oddly apolitical, and not very compelling.
Geoffrey Ward“Ellen Feldman blends history and fiction so skillfully that it's almost impossible to know where one ends and the other begins.”
Arthur Schlesinger Jr.“Novels about the personal lives of public figures are tricky indeed, but Ellen Feldman pulls it off in her touching and sensitive re-imagination of the emotional entanglements of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Lucy Mercer Rutherford.”
New York Times Book Review“Lucy Mercer Rutherford is a wonderful creation.”
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Lucy based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
I've been an avid reader of historical novels for the past forty years, and consider Ellen Feldman's Lucy one of the best. It is an informative, entertaining and richly detailed depiction of the love affair that Franklin D. Roosevelt had with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer. It is also a vivid and accurate account of that crucial period in world history between both world wars, and WWII itself. It takes courage and skill for an author to pen a book narrated by a historical figure, and Feldman does so with masterful restraint, thus creating a realistic and convincing portrait. Lucy comes across as a sensitive and caring woman willing to make any sacrifice for the man she loves, a man who returns her love, and realizes in the end that had Franklin left his wife for her the scandal would have ruined him, and history as we know it would be another story. FDR himself emerges as the giant he was, but susceptible to the passions that also made him human. And Eleanor bears it all with the type of stoical pride, dignity, and wit that made her the great woman she was. I once shook her hand, and still feel her warmth in my palm. It's an important story unknown to many. Overall, this is a wonderful novel by the underrated Ms. Feldman. One can only hope she continues to write such fine narratives.
I read this book casually, over the summer, and didn't realize how much I enjoyed it until I realized I am still thinking about it months later! It is a good mix of history, love story, and social narative.
This book kept my interest from beginning to end. If you love historical novels, this one will not disappoint.
What a wonderful historical love story. While I am sure that there are parts of the story which are not true, it appears to be factual to the Roosevelt stories, etc., that I have read in the past. Reading the book, I imagined it was all true - whether it was or not.
I found this novel to be particularly haunting. The kind of story I'm sure I'll remember for a long, long time.
I enjoyed reading "Lucy", very much. This was my first reading on any Roosevelt. As a novel reader I just wanted more. I have now order other related books mentioned on the back page. Thank you for your insight to this famous family.