White Houses

White Houses

by Amy Bloom

Hardcover

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Overview

“Amy Bloom brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
 
“A 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

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, D.C. 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.

Advance praise for White Houses

“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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812995664
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/13/2018
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 445,877
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Amy Bloom is the author of Come to Me, a National Book Award finalist; A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Love Invents Us; Normal; Away, a New York Times bestseller; Where the God of Love Hangs Out; and Lucky Us, a New York Times bestseller. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, Tin House, and Salon, among other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. She is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Luck Is Not Chance

In 1932, my father was dead and my star was rising. I could write. People looked for my name. I’d gotten a big bounce from The Milwaukee Sentinel to New York because I was the only woman to cover Big Ten football playoffs and the excellent Smith scandal (idiot corset salesman and buxom mistress cut off the head of her husband and hide it in the bathtub). I had hit it hard in Brooklyn, at the Daily Mirror and moved on to the Associated Press. I had a small apartment, with a palm-­sized window and a bathroom down the hall. I owned one frying pan, two plates, and two coffee mugs. My friends were newspapermen, my girlfriends were often copy editors (very sharp, very sweet), and I was what they called a newspaperwoman. They ran my bylines and everyone knew I didn’t do weddings. It was good.

The men bought me drinks and every night I bought a round before I went home. They talked about their wives and mistresses in front of me and I didn’t blink. I didn’t wrinkle my nose. I sympathized. When the wives were on the rag, when the girlfriend had a bun in the oven, when the door was locked, I said it was a damn shame. I sipped my Scotch. I kept my chin up and my eyes friendly. I didn’t tell the guys that I was no different, that I’d sooner bed a dozen wrong girls and wake up in a dozen hot-­sheet joints, minus my wallet and plus a few scratches, than be tied down to one woman and a couple of brats. I pretended that even though I hadn’t found the right man, I did want one. I pretended that I envied their wives and that took effort.

(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.)

It was a perfect night to be in a Brooklyn bar, waiting for the snow to fall. I signaled for another beer and a young man, from the city desk, stout and red-­faced like me, brought it over and said, “Hick, is your dad Addison Hickok? I remember you were from South Dakota.”

I said, Yes, that was me, and that was my old man.

I’m sorry, he said, I hear he killed himself. It came over the wire, there was a rash of Dust Bowl suicides. Traveling salesman, right? I’m sorry.

Don’t you worry, I said. I couldn’t say, Drinks all around, because my father’s dead and I am not just glad, I am goddamn glad. No man drinks to a woman saying that. I left two bits under my glass and made my way home, to find a letter from Miz Min, my father’s second wife, asking if I might send money for the burial expenses. I lit the envelope with my cigarette and I went to New Jersey.

I was the Associated Press’s top dog for the Lindbergh kidnapping. We were all racing to tell the story and the Daily News got there first, with an enormous, grainy photo of the baby and the headline “Lindy’s Baby Kidnaped,” which was clear and short, and the Times’s “Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped from Home of Parents on Farm Near Princeton” was more exact but not first. They avoided vulgar familiarity but really, who cares whether the baby’s taken from a farm or a ranch or a clover patch.

(The Daily News, March 2, 1932.)

The most famous baby in the world, Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., was kidnaped from his crib on the first floor of the Lone Eagle’s home at Hopewell, N.J., between 7:30 and 10:30 o’clock last night.

The flier’s wife, the former Anne Morrow, discovered at 10:30 that her 20-­months-­old son was missing. Her mother, Mrs. Dwight W. Morrow, who disclosed that Mrs. Lindbergh is expecting another baby, feared that the shock might have serious effect.

Anne immediately called Col. Lindbergh, who was in the living room. The famous flier, thinking that the nurse might have removed the child, paused to investigate before telephoning the State police.

As rapidly as radio, telephone and telegraph could spread the alarm countrywide, the biggest police hunt in history was under way.

Seventy State Troopers from Morristown, Trenton, Somerville and Lambertsville hopped on motorcycles and in automobiles and began to race over the countryside for a radius of a hundred miles around Princeton, which is ten miles west of the Lindbergh residence.

At midnight the teletype alarm had been spread over five States. Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney, aroused from sleep, personally took control of the New York City search, which included scrutiny of all ferries, tunnels and bridges. Police in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut were also spreading a gigantic net.

Child Carried Through Window

The Lindbergh baby had been dressed in his sleeping gown by his nurse, and was asleep in the nursery on the first floor of the country mansion when he was kidnaped. The child was taken out of a window, through which the kidnaper or gang of kidnapers apparently entered the home.

A note, contents not disclosed, was found on the second floor of the home. Whether this was a demand for ransom could not be learned - although that was the assumption in some quarters.

This went on for a few more columns, bringing in the neighbor with the green car (who had nothing to do with anything) and recounting the loving, playful disagreement the Lindberghs apparently had over what to name the baby in the first place, using sentiment (What shall we name the Little Eaglet?) to underscore the strong and irresistible likelihood of tragedy.

I was sliding through dirty New Jersey snow, looking for footprints, happy as a rose in sunshine. I got a byline every day. Every morning, I crawled out of my miserable motel bed and sang while I got dressed. I brought doughnuts and cigarettes and dirty jokes wherever I went and when reporters were getting shut out of Hopewell, New Jersey, I was not one of them. I sat over a typewriter in a freezing room, still wearing my coat and hat, and banged out story after story and chased clue after clue. It was as good a serial as you could find on the radio. Thirteen ransom notes and a host of screwy characters, including John Condon, a high school principal, who popped up out of nowhere to offer himself as an intermediary between Lindbergh and the kidnappers. John Condon seemed serious, modest, distraught and I think he was the best con man I ever saw. None of us ever figured out what his long game was. If poor Richard Hauptmann, the kidnapper, had been as clever as John Condon, he wouldn’t have got the chair. And if poor Richard Hauptmann hadn’t been German, the press wouldn’t have tagged him with the nickname “Bruno” and we wouldn’t have had to pretend that the two eyewitnesses against him were anything but blind and broke. I could write anything, take up any crazy clue (a scrap of blue fabric in Maryland, a mystery man in Rhode Island), as long as the root of the story was untouched: American hero and wife search for missing baby.

Every suspicion we had of corruption and desperation on the part of the cops and J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, we kept to ourselves. Lindbergh was untouchable. (Never mind his “America First” speeches, blaming Jews for anti-­Semitism. Never mind that famous, boyish grin flashing when he got the Commander Cross of the Order of the German Eagle from Göring in Berlin in 1938, with Hitler’s best wishes. And most of all, never mind that just four months before the kidnapping, Lucky Lindy had taken his baby and hidden him in a linen closet while his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, searched the house weeping hysterically. Then he handed her the baby. What a card.)

I believed Lindbergh hired John Condon. I thought Lindbergh killed the baby by accident and built a cover-­up with the bravado and precision he was famous for. And when the poor little baby was found, four miles from the house, head staved in and decomposing, poor German Richard Hauptmann didn’t have a chance.

I didn’t write the story I wanted to and everyone knew it. My boss said to me, Give it up. Go cover Eleanor Roo­sevelt for a change, her old man’s heading to the White House. I didn’t say no. Albany was a one-­horse town and Eleanor Roo­sevelt might be dull and pleasant, which is what I’d heard, but I was pretty sure she hadn’t killed her own baby and sent an innocent man to fry for it.

She was dull and pleasant for the first five minutes. I sat right next to her in a faded velvet chair, in the old-­fashioned drawing room of the Governor’s Mansion on Eagle Street, and looked at her cheap, sensible serge dress and flat shoes and thought, Who in the name of Christ has dressed you? I looked closely, to make notes, and then I looked away to be polite. She poured tea and I did notice her beautiful hands and her very plain wedding band, a little loose on her finger. We chatted. We sipped. I made some remarks about Republicans and she laughed, and not politely.

She asked me about the Lindbergh case and I told her about what I’d seen and she shook her head over Lindbergh. I prefer Amelia Earhart, she said. You know, she was a social worker, before she was a pilot. That’s not all she was, I thought, but I ate a cookie.

We talked about the great state of New York and the needs of its people and then it was time for dinner and we had a sherry-­spiked mushroom soup I can still taste. We ate and talked until late. She told me that her husband believed that the role of government was to help people. I nodded. All people, she said. She told me about Louis Howe, Governor Roo­sevelt’s campaign manager, whom she had come to admire. I didn’t at first, she said. She said some people thought he was a Machiavelli. She said he was coarse and direct and deeply, deeply political. But Louis Howe is also, she said, the kindest, most loyal, most decent person I know. When my husband got polio—­she put her hand over her mouth. Please don’t write that, she said. That is not the kind of thing I wish to discuss, in the newspapers. I made a big show of striking a line. We’ll go with Louis Howe and his fine qualities, I said. Now, give me something uplifting, so we go out on a positive note about the governor and his race for the White House.

“The function of democratic living is not to lower standards but to raise those that have been too low.”

“That’s very good,” I said.

She rang a bell and said, Would you care for a sherry? Her eyes were light blue, then dark blue, lake blue. I saw a quick flare, a pilot light of interest come and go.

I put away my notebook and we sat, sipping sherry, listening to opera, until a maid came in and asked if she should get my coat.

I said, Mrs. Roo­sevelt, I hate to go, but I have a story to file. She said, Don’t make me sound like a fool, Miss Hickok. I said that I couldn’t if I tried and she said she thought that was the first lie I’d told her. We both stood up and she helped me on with my coat. We looked at each other in their grand, gold-­framed mirror and she adjusted my hat. Then she said, We’re grown women, both doing our jobs. Call me Eleanor. I smiled all the way home.

We saw each other every week of the campaign and I liked what I saw so much, I offered to cover her full-­time for the Associated Press as Roo­sevelt’s race for the White House heated up. My editor liked the pieces and every once in a while he’d say, Your lady’s got some good lines. I liked her height and her energy. I liked her long, loose stride and her progressive principles. She insulted conservatives and cowards every time she opened her mouth and I wrote it all down. She smiled when she saw me coming and I did the same. When we had breakfast together, I sometimes took a sausage off her plate.

She called me at the end of October and told me that Franklin’s secretary’s mother had died. I’d already met Missy LeHand, the governor’s executive secretary, his lodestar of competence and tact and likely something more. Dozens of reporters, including me, saw Missy sitting very close to Governor Roo­sevelt, late at night, rubbing his shoulders. Eleanor said she didn’t want to make the trip to Potsdam, New York, with just dear, bereft Missy and Franklin certainly wasn’t going to attend that shit storm of weeping, hopeful women (which was not how Eleanor put it). She said, Won’t you come with us, Hick? It’s quite a long ride, we’ll get better acquainted and then we’ll tour a power plant. We can go see where they want to put the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

I was between girlfriends and between dogs. I packed my bag.

Before we got on the train, we stopped in a department store, for her to get some handkerchiefs. Only a few heads turned. I said I could use a new scarf. We walked through together and for a minute we linked arms, like lady shoppers with time on their hands. We got her plain linen hankies and I picked up and put down a red silk scarf. Very racy, she said. You should get it. We sat, side by side, in the department store café, which would have been heaven to me when I was growing up, a clean place to eat, drinks brought to you by tidy-­looking women, surrounded by silk flowers. I ordered a grilled cheese-­and-­bacon sandwich and wished they served beer. Eleanor, who liked to pretend she didn’t care for anything self-­indulgent, had a bowl of split pea soup. It came with oyster crackers and after she had dumped her packet of them into the bowl, she looked to see if I might have some, next to my sandwich.

“Why don’t you just ask for some more crackers,” I said.

“This is fine. This is what they gave us,” she said.

I gave the waitress a little wave and a big smile. When she came by, I asked for three more packets of crackers. Eleanor clasped her hands in irritation and then she turned it on.

“The crackers are so good, miss,” Eleanor said. “If it is extra, please just put it on our bill.”

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "White Houses"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Amy Bloom.
Excerpted by permission of Diversified Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

1. White Houses is a fictional account of relationships and events that happened from the 1930s to the '60s. Did any historical information in the book interest or surprise you? Did you know anything about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, or FDR’s affairs before reading the book?

2. Lorena had a very difficult childhood, filled with poverty, violence, and uncertainty. Eleanor's childhood was also fraught with violence and uncertainty, but she still had every opportunity and comfort, because she was a Roosevelt. How do you think their backgrounds affected who they became as adults, in both their personal and professional lives? Did it affect the dynamics of their relationship?

3. Lorena’s short time in the circus introduced us to many unforgettable and unique characters on the outskirts of society. Who do you think Lorena most related to? Did you relate to any of them?

4. Lorena and Eleanor shared a love that was taboo because of how people viewed sexuality at the time and Eleanor’s high-profile marriage. How do you think their love story would play out today? Do you think it would have ended differently, or the same?

5. Lorena and FDR shared a complicated relationship—he was her president and her friend, and also her lover’s husband. How did this affect Lorena’s relationship with FDR, and her relationship with Eleanor?

6. White Houses is told from Lorena’s perspective—a woman on the sidelines of history who was literally cropped out of photos. How do you think her view of history differs from how other people viewed it? How do you think Eleanor and Lorena’s story would have changed if it was told from the perspective of Eleanor, or FDR, or anyone else who worked at the White House?

7. Eleanor Roosevelt was a groundbreaking First Lady, a politician and activist in her own right, who even publically disagreed with her husband’s politics from time to time. Were you familiar with Eleanor Roosevelt’s work before this novel? Were you surprised by her politics and behavior, given the period she lived in? What could women today learn from her approach to politics?

8. Before covering the White House, Lorena established herself as a respected journalist. How does her relationship with Eleanor affect her professional aspirations? Do you agree with the decisions she makes regarding her career?

Customer Reviews

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White Houses 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book tedious . Once you understood the pretense of the Roosevelt marriage , the remaining pages were just one bedroom scene after the other. Little insight into Mrs Roosevelt and her relationship with her children or her husband.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got worn out with the constant focus on tiny details written in a first person POV. The historic period is one I have studied so I found much missing in the Eleanor story. But the author gives us magical expressions of the emotion of deep love and that is the only redeeming aspect. To write a story set during a period of major global upheaval and keep the focus on minute details such as the threads of the seams inside a wool jacket wore jewelry out. Also, I know this is fiction but I have a deep understanding of the FDR family and was disappointed to find them almost invisible. As for the lesbian love story, not enough suspense for it to be interesting . A 'romance' needs at least a little hope. This was all about disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are many contrasts and textures in this biographical piece of fiction. Poverty and wealth, the propriety of being political and in the spotlight (EF) is so different from our narrator, who is direct and “in one’s face” (LH). These opposites did attract and their love was strong. It was truly an inspiration to see the tolerance and openness in the President and First Lady’s marriage. They loved and needed one another- this was also depicted clearly and respectfully. Beautifully written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lovely story about two women in love at a time in which such a relationship was unspeakable. Although I enjoyed the story, I sometimes found my mind wandering. Reading this lovely piece of historical fiction has, however, peaked my interest in learning more about Eleanor Roosevelt. Thank you for a very sweet love story and a quick and easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting so much more from thjs book, i did not finish it. Disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling...
miss_mesmerized More than 1 year ago
Life does not endow much to young Lorena Alice Hickok. When her mother dies, her father sends her away and she has to make her way on her own. Thanks to her stubbornness and perseverance, Lorena becomes one of the first woman journalists of the United States. In 1932, she works for Associated Press and reports on Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s electoral campaign. This is when she meets Eleanor for the first time. They women fall for each other immediately and this, Lorena gets closer to the famous couple and finally becomes Eleanor‘s lover. Based on the known facts, Amy Bloom tells the story of two unorthodox and progressive women of the 1930s. It is especially Lorena who is an extraordinary character. She is not particularly charming, nor very attractive at the first glance, nevertheless, there is something fascinating about her, her independence makes her stand out and her courage and self-confidence irritate the men around her. On the other hand, Eleanor Roosevelt is an outstanding first lady. Educated in the best boarding schools and acquainted with the manners of the high society, she moves smoothly around the rich and famous. When she entered a room, all eyes were on her. Yet, this did not prevent her husband from betraying her and obviously, she was aware of this. His lovers lived under their roof and Eleanor could watch them closely. But, had Franklin and Eleanor lost interest, they could be awful, nasty people. Amy Bloom unveils a scandalous affair and tells the story of a woman, or rather two women, who followed their instincts and thus were quite ahead of their time.
lauriesophee More than 1 year ago
A fictional version of a love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and a White House reporter. While recounting their many exploits, the author also shows the strong and sincere emotional attatchment between the two, an attachment that goes much deeper than their sexual relationship. The personality and winning ways of the President, become part of the narrative. It seems that Eleanor and Franklin had a mutual understanding and acceptance of their roles as President and First Lady. "The country needed him and he need her," says the reporter. An interesting book!
Sandy5 10 months ago
As I listened to this novel in my car, I really wondered where the idea of this novel came from. I kept thinking, did something like this really happen? I guess it is for people like me to read/listen to and wonder these thoughts. I have mixed feelings about this novel and perhaps they have something to do with the notion that I listened to this novel on audio. I thought this novel was all-over-the-place and I had a hard time following it at times. The idea of Eleanor Roosevelt having a lover through me off too. I have this image of this first lady and when I add a woman to it, it just seems wrong. I’m sorry but that’s how it is with her. I’m not against anyone else’s individual preference as that is your choice but for this historical first lady, I couldn’t see it. Perhaps I should have stopped listening to it but I wanted to know how things ended or what happened over time, so I had to continue. I know that every story has more than one side to it so I kept this thought in the back of my mind, as I listened to this novel. I liked the compassion and the respect that she showed as she tells the story. As a reporter, I can tell that she likes to talk about others and give all the details that she possibly can. I liked that she was not negative and she didn’t disrespect anyone. I liked how she included a variety of individuals from that time period and she made their stories interesting. I learned about Hick and her life, which before now, I knew nothing. This was probably not the right novel for me but I did enjoy parts of it.
Shortcake5 More than 1 year ago
Eleanor Roosevelt was/is a political and personal idol for me. I have read everything there is to read about Eleanor and also Franklin so It is not surprising to me to read about Lorena Hickok and Eleanor's relationship. However, I had a really hard time reading White Houses by Amy Bloom. The knowledge of this book using Eleanor Roosevelt and her "first" friend, Lorena Hickok (who could've been her longtime lover) as a backdrop just wasn't for me. Historical Fiction sometimes just doesn't work for me as a premise when the characters who are real turn into someone I just don't know. This to me is what happened in White Houses. Amy Bloom always does a really nice job of writing well, creating an image that you can see in your head and taking you away into the story and she did this again in White Houses. I just felt that Lorena was a little dirtier and depressing than what I had read about her before. If you are not knowledgeable about her and Eleanor's relationship than this book could come off as a biography and that is not what this is. It is pure fiction even if Amy Bloom did so much research into her characters. I thought this book would be about Eleanor and some of her views and also Lorena. It wasn't. it was told in First Person by Hickok how she felt about Eleanor, what she thought of this and that; how dare Franklin do this, or do that while he was president or before. It was maddening to me that the 2 most famous people in this book came off the flattest in the whole story. I usually love Amy Bloom, but this book is not one for me to love. Sorry, Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
SL22268 More than 1 year ago
Thank you NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book. I thought given the subject matter, it was very tastefully done. I didn't know about any of the "goings-on" that this book talks about, so it led me to research the people portrayed. I found the stories fascinating. While the book is fiction, based on some factual events, it felt like it was based on a true story. I would recommend this book - I read it much faster than I anticipated!
Tracey_L More than 1 year ago
Actual rating 3.5 This is a genre that I truly enjoy diving into, so I was very interested in reading this book. Unfortunately, I never entirely clicked with the story. Perhaps I wasn't as interested in the subject as I thought I might be; my tastes do typically run to earlier years. However the writing was excellent and clearly Ms. Bloom did her research, so although I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked, I think it will be well-received by others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
litpixie More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get far in this book. The premise sounded interesting, the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, also known as "Hick." There were parts of this book I had difficulty with. At no time when Hick was remembering her early times with Eleanor did I feel as if I was seeing two people in love, or even of a bond being created. But what made me put the book down was when Hick went to work in the circus. First, she's hired for a front office position, then she's moved and seems to be doing nothing more than making friends with the people working in the freak show. Plus, she's supposed to be 14 and there are Model T's and radios in the early years of the 1900s. I looked this up and couldn't find record of either being around that early. Plus, in other tales of people working in circuses everyone works. And when I looked up Hick's life she worked in boarding houses while still trying to finish her education. That would have made a more interesting story. So much of being a house keeper and getting your education it would speak to so many girls and women today.
CarolD59 More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read the part fact/part fiction story of the romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hicks. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. I was looking for a story about these two strong women. It was less of a story and more of reading Lorena Hicks journal. The only time I felt any emotions for the characters was when Hicks was telling the story of her childhood. I received a copy of this from Netgalley and this is my honest review.
Meldawoman More than 1 year ago
I really thought that this was a fascinating topic for a book. An in-depth behind the curtain view of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt and their real lives. However, I found the book very confusing as it kept jumping back and forth in time chapter by chapter and then within the chapters. It was very difficult to follow the timeline. I believe that the author was trying to create some tension by starting after FDR's death, but it didn't really work in this instance. And the book fizzled in the second half.. I would have preferred a more chronological approach---I think that it would have read much better that way. There were some amazing stories in this book and times when I felt that I was really in the time it took place. But, then I would get bumped out due to uneven story telling. I think that it was a good premise for a book---just not well executed.
MugsyMae More than 1 year ago
White Houses is a fictional accounting of the relationship between journalist Lorena Hickok ("Hick") and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It is truly a love story as told through the eyes of Hick. I found it fascinating and wonderful to read although it did jump around a bit as Hick remembered different times and places and adventures.
Vhar318 More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story told n the voice of Lorena Hickok known as “Hick” to her friends. It’s a coming of age story of growing up, of love and loss and observations during the 1930’s and 1940’s, pre and post Roosevelt. Lorena was a standout News reporter covering Franklin Roosevelt’s first run for President. She meets Eleanor and her life changes. Lorena started with less than nothing but educated herself and learned to fit in where needed. This book is beautifully written. Amy Bloom has taken a work of fiction and made it real. The ups and downs of loving someone that is the center of the world for so many people because of position. The feelings of loving someone more than you love yourself. I really enjoyed this book. You believe you are reading a biography when in fact it is a work of fiction that feels real. I highly recommend this poignant and beautiful story. #netgalley
Laeljeanne More than 1 year ago
The times were not conducive for a lesbian love affair. In this fictional version of Eleanor Roosevelt’s lifelong love affair with journalist Lorena Hickok, President Roosevelt is “in on the joke” and takes advantage with his blatant womanizing. Told from the perspective of Hickok, it’s a softly rendered portrait of Eleanor, all the loveliness of her and the imperfections softened. Readers also get a peek into Bloom’s perspective of the Roosevelt clan, with snarky remarks on cousins from Hickok, Eleanor, and FDR. Throughout the story, Hickok announces character flaws and strengths of the powerful people surrounding her, ever aware of her precarious position. Readers follow her career choices, through various relationships and friendships, and her ins and outs with Eleanor, who always chooses her as an add-on to her public, political life, even after her husband’s death. This is a nicely written story of a highly speculative affair of a First Lady, politically powerful for her time, representing her with dignity and compassion, while displaying her passions, political and personal. With satirical leanings, it’s an interesting place to start an exploration of Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as learning about her “other half,” Lorena Hickok. Telling the story from the lesser known partner brilliantly brings her to life. It’s a little history lesson in a big love story. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy through NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thie book was a true disappointment. So disgusting about eleanor roosevelt had to ,ake myself keep reading in hopes of something good. Butvwas torally ashamed of the content of this book would not recommend to anyone
Jaruwa More than 1 year ago
I’ve just finished reading this, and feel as though I’ve just emerged from the past with two extraordinary women as guides. Although it is fiction, it is based on extensive research, including over three thousand letters, so I felt confident that the relationship between these two prominent women, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, was well portrayed. Most of the major events of this time are well documented, so I allowed myself to more fully accept that what I was reading was mostly accurate, and happily immersed myself in this era, the 1930’s until the 1960’s. Lorena Hickok, aka Hick, was a prominent journalist. At that time, being a woman in this field, especially a highly successful one, required being a very tough cookie, and Hick was definitely that, and more. Described through her eyes, this tumultuous time in history, as well as her deep love and devotion to Eleanor Roosevelt, is fascinating. Her voice is quirky and spunky, which added to my enjoyment of the book. I found myself smiling often at her clever and insightful words. While covering the beginnings of FDR’s presidency for the Associated Press, Hick met Eleanor Roosevelt and began a friendship that grew into a lifelong love between them. This love eventually became romantic and they became inseparable, with Hick even living at the White House for a time. Because of FDR’s continuous philandering, Eleanor was lonely and heartbroken, and readily embraced this relationship. FDR’s was aware of the sexual nature of their relationship, and was content that his wife was finding a source of happiness elsewhere, while he spent time with his various mistresses. The sexuality is understated, tasteful, and very much an expression of their deep love. They remained devoted to each other for decades, until the end of Eleanor’s life. Homosexuality being scandalous,and a serious crime at the time, great care was taken by those who knew of their secret romance to keep it secret. If this had become public knowledge, of course, the Roosevelt presidency,which lasted 12 years, would have been imperiled and many of the social protections we take for granted today might not have been enacted: Social Security, child labor laws, the forty-hour work week, Workers Compensation, disability insurance, and many others. Hick’s description of the time they had together is searingly honest and straightforward. Words like heartfelt, bittersweet, and poignant come to mind. It is a beautifully written love story of an deep and lasting relationship between two extraordinary women. I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy well researched historical fiction with a heart. Note: I received a copy of the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received this book courtesy of Netgalley and its publisher, Random House. This is a story about the life of Lorena Alice Hickock, Eleanor Roosevelt’s close friend. It is a story about her challenging childhood including abuse and neglect, education, life as a journalist, career, and love of Eleanor. Most of the book is about the relationship between Lorena and Eleanor. Lorena sat with Eleanor when Eleanor’s brother died. She even lived in the White House with the Roosevelts. Through this book, the reader gains a different perspective into the Roosevelt’s life in the White House and its residents. Actual letters are included to provide credibility to the story.
gmcootie More than 1 year ago
White Houses by Amy Bloom is the fictionalized account of the unexpected and forbidden affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok. They meet in 1932 while Lorena is reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. The two women couldn't be more different - Lorena grew up poorer than poor, Eleanor is a Roosevelt. But there is an immediate powerful, passionate connection that develops into a forbidden-for-the-times love affair that endures through the years. The story is fictional, but the history and characters are real. It's a fascinating glimpse into what was happening in the world, the United States, and the White House in those times. White Houses has been described as an unforgettable novel, and it is certainly that. The prose is compelling. Eleanor and Franklin are not like you and me; they are part of an American Dynasty, and you feel almost uncomfortable as Lorena never quite fits in. "A Rooseveltian silence" is mentioned and you understand just what the author means to convey. Eleanor is wonderful and loving and caring, but for all that she can be thoughtless and cruel and often unlikeable. Franklin's reputation precedes him. He is presented as the man we've read him to be: many faces, so popular, determined, cruel, angry, and very, very needy. A formidable rival for Lorena. Amy Bloom's writing is amazing. Moving, elegant, thoughtful, with turns of phrase that you will not soon forget, applicable to an enduring love between any two people. But in the end, although compelling, this story is also unsettling and sad, with tension running throughout. There is a marvelous description of so many love affairs: "…her wish to periodically forget that he was the whole world for her and she was a delightful little village for him." This was meant to apply to Franklin, but in a sense it described Eleanor's actions, whatever her feelings, as well. And through it all, she was the love of Lorena's life, "All those ups and downs, our separations and closed doors, those terrible fights and furies, our cruelties and our silences, seem like nothing, like losing a handbag or missing the morning train." An excellent read, a reminder that love does not run smoothly, does not conquer all, and life is not a fairy tale, but well worth the living. Note I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
Wow! I had no idea Eleanor swung that way. However, unfortunately while eye opening, it wasn't all that for me. The blurb likened this book to "The Paris Wife" and "The Swans of Fifth Avenue". Well, I read both of those books and loved them. This one? No way near. I was expecting a lot more. This was just random stories and all over the place. So Lorena did Eleanor. I had to read about it dozens and dozens of times and I didn't even finish the book. I think this would have appealed to me more if it was a short, short story. Thanks to Random House and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
all_about_books More than 1 year ago
White House by Amy Bloom tells of a love story between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lenora Hickok. Although, I knew the First Lady favorited woman to the President as I have read in the past, reading a fictionalized telling from this woman confirmed the stories. Amy Bloom chooses to have the love story told in a first hand account of the conversations and events between these two women. The diary style entries are believable with antidotes and tender moments of passion, but I found the see saw accounts of events difficult to follow. I enjoyed learning of Eleanor's true nature beyond her husband's infamous presidency and the people who she helped and loved. She truly was a good person who was not appreciated by her family or husband, but loved by many. Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this arc.