White Houses: Book summary and reviews of White Houses by Amy Bloom

White Houses

by Amy Bloom

White Houses by Amy Bloom X
White Houses by Amy Bloom
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2018
    240 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

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, 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.

"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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Bloom elevates this addition to the secret-lives-of-the-Roosevelts genre through elegant prose and by making Lorena Hickok a character engrossing enough to steal center stage from Eleanor Roosevelt." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Hick's outrage over the trauma inflicted on gays and lesbians, the class divide, the beauty quotient, and the gender double standard fuels this socially incisive, psychologically saturated, funny, and erotic fictionalization of legendary figures; this novel of extraordinary magnetism and insight; this keen celebration of love, loyalty, and sacrifice." - Booklist

"Starred Review. An original, richly textured, and beautifully written love story." - Library Journal

"[L]ove 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

"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

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Reader Reviews

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Dpfaef

White Houses
White Houses Is the story of the romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Both women in their own way had very sad lives. Eleanor because she lived in the shadow of FDR and Hickok because of her brutal early life.

While the romance was scandalous it was by no means extraordinary. Bloom characterizations of Eleanor and Lorena are lovely, they were devoted to each other.

Amy Bloom is a wonderful writer, she has written a thought-provoking book about two lost souls that find a bit of happiness with another.

lani

an inflamed passion
Historical fiction has the ability to allow one to imagine the underpinnings of a relationship while focusing on real historical events or characters. Amy Bloom has concentrated on Roosevelt's relationship with Lorena Hickok which historians still disagree as to the erotic nature of their relationship. When Doris Fabor was allowed to look, however, at the letters between these women she felt that is was undeniable as to their deep rooted physical love for one another. The story is told from Hickok's point of view, beginning with her sharing her early childhood abusive days with her family, and leaving home at the age of 14. How much of her circus days were real or fictionalized I cannot say as I found no evidence researching this area. However, her "imagined" recount of this time was vivid and engaging, but I became less interested as the book wore on feeling it more fluffy and needing more substance than their whispers to one another. More of a character study than a plot driven novel although Bloom does take us through Roosevelt's passion about social injustice, civil rights and devotion to encouraging Americans to stand up for its ideals of humanity and tolerance but does not go into any depth in this matter. Hickok's acclaimed career as a newspaper reporter, her job as the chief investigator of FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) and her devotion to Eleanor were explored but I never really engaged or grew to care about the characters. However, I left wanting to read more and have since purchased further biographies. This fictionalized account is a good headway to read about their historical lives for those we feel the need to explore further.

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Author Information

Amy Bloom Author Biography

Author of two New York Times best-sellers and three collections of short stories, a children's book and a ground-breaking collection of essays. She's 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, O Magazine and Vogue, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages.

She has written many pilot scripts, for cable and network, and she created, wrote and ran the excellent, short-lived series State of Mind, ...

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