The Loves of President and Mrs. Roosevelt: Background information when reading White Houses

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

White Houses

by Amy Bloom

White Houses by Amy Bloom X
White Houses by Amy Bloom
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2018, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Loves of President and Mrs. Roosevelt

This article relates to White Houses

Print Review

Eleanor Roosevelt had long been a key figure in her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's, political career. When he became President, she transformed the role of the First Lady. She was a vocal and vociferous advocate for human rights and in particular, the rights of women and children. She wrote a popular newspaper column "My Day," and was active in helping the poor and fighting racial discrimination. After her husband's death, President Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to the United Nations. She was given further appointments by President John F. Kennedy, serving her country faithfully until her death in 1962.

But in the partnership of two exceptional public servants there were significant difficulties. In 1914, FDR embarked on an affair with his wife's social secretary, Lucy Mercer. When Eleanor found love letters between the two in 1918, the Roosevelts nearly divorced. FDR broke up with Lucy Mercer—although evidence exists that suggests the ties between them were never truly severed and Lucy was at his side when he died in April 1945.

Eleanor and Hick In White Houses, Amy Bloom suggests that FDR also had a long-standing love affair with his secretary Missy LeHand with whom he worked extremely closely. Evidence for this seems to rest with the Roosevelt's son, Elliott, who described the relationship in his 1973 book, An Untold Story, The Roosevelts of Hyde Park. Whatever the truth of it, FDR's personal life has long been a subject of speculation, inspiring the movie, Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney.

For readers of White Houses, however, the central Roosevelt love affair, is Eleanor's. After discovering her husband's affair with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor is believed to have agreed to remain married but insisted on separate bedrooms. During Roosevelt's first presidential campaign, Eleanor met Lorena Hickok, an Associated Press reporter and they became close friends with Hick even moving into the White House.

Over the years, the two maintained a very intimate, loving and presumably sexual relationship. Readers who want to know more about the factual history behind the story in White Houses can find several non-fiction titles, including, most recently, Susan Quinn's Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady (Penguin, 2016).

Article by Kate Braithwaite

This "beyond the book article" relates to White Houses. It originally ran in March 2018 and has been updated for the October 2018 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Collection
    The Last Collection
    by Jeanne Mackin
    What it's about:
    The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin follows the lives of two internationally ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.