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White Houses: A Novel by Amy Bloom
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White Houses: A Novel (edition 2018)

by Amy Bloom (Author)

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4285638,540 (3.59)45
For readers of The Paris Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue comes a love story inspired by "one of the most intriguing relationships in history"*--between Eleanor Roosevelt and "first friend" Lorena Hickok. 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 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 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*… (more)
Member:LynnPattern
Title:White Houses: A Novel
Authors:Amy Bloom (Author)
Info:Random House (2018), Edition: Reprint, 241 pages
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White Houses by Amy Bloom

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Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
White Houses sounded like it would be a good read...historical fiction about Lorena Hickok, rumored to be Eleanor Roosevelt’s secret love of her life. However, the writing was so disjointed, impossible to keep the timeline straight and minor characters coming in and out with no real introduction. The first chapters about Lorena’s upbringing were well-written, but not the type of graphic description (child molestation, neglect, etc) that I expect in a book marketed as a historical fiction love story. ( )
  strandbooks | Oct 30, 2019 |
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. ( )
  SandraBrower | Oct 27, 2019 |
Fascinating fictional account of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her secretary “Hick”. I knew about FDR’s extramarital affairs, but I didn’t know about Eleanor Roosevelt’s complex relationship with Hick. After reading this, I wondered how a marriage like that would survive in today’s frenzied media environment. The Roosevelts made an unusual situation work for them. Eleanor’s independence, intelligence, and her interest in the common good shine in this novel. ( )
  brangwinn | Aug 15, 2019 |
I'm not a big fan of biographical fiction, but I thought this was just lovely. A loving but honest portrait of a relationship at once "simply love" and politically complicated. Lorena Hickok (familiar to many as the author of a famous biography of Helen Keller read by anyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s) and Eleanor Roosevelt loved each other throughout FDRs presidency. "Hick" even lived in the White House (status as "first friend" was open secret). This novel is set during a weekend the two spent together after FDRs death, but is filled with memories from their lives together from Hickok's point of view. A quick read . . . so quick that at one point I put the book down for a couple of days because I didn't want it to end.
In LT I've chosen the cover that matches the book I actually read, but I find it incredibly annoying that the cover artist picked an image of two petite-looking women in dresses sitting on a porch. While there was some mention of porch sitting in the book, it ended up being something they never got to do . . . and besides, neither of them was petite. Some of the other editions have better covers. ( )
  LucindaLibri | Jun 21, 2019 |
I first read about Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt last year when I read Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert. It's a fabulous book, deep and well researched. And I loved it. So, when I learned about White Houses by Amy Bloom was I curious about how it would be. I'm glad to say that this one is also very good, well-written and engrossing.

I'm fascinated by the Roosevelt family and even though FDR is my favorite do I find Eleanor Roosevelt to be such an interesting woman. This book is a fictional take on Eleanor's relationship with Lorena Hickok. It's an engaging tale, where we get to Lorena's POV of her growing up with fan abusing father, her time at a circus and of course her first interview with Eleanor that starts off a love affair.

However, I did feel that, despite the wonderful portrayal of the characters, and the compelling dialog that the story lacked the depth that Loving Eleanor had. I miss some parts from Loving Eleanor, like for instance how their relationship was put an end by FDR because they were a risk to the presidency. I never really got the sense of what happened to them in this book. Lorena moved out from the White House and was involved with another woman. And, then that relationship ended. Sometimes the story just felt a bit disjointed. But, that's perhaps the point, although it did feel like Lorena jumped from thought to thought in her recollection of her relationship with Eleanor.

If you want a tragic love story is this book great. There are several wonderful memorable scenes that I loved like Lorena last meeting with Franklin. Or in the beginning when Eleanor arrives at Lorena's place after Franklin's death. I think that Amy Bloom did a wonderful job of describing the book's characters.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | May 19, 2019 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For my parents, Sydelle and Murray
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No love like old love.
Quotations
Eleanor's love was like some shabby old footstool. Everyone used it without wanting it and no one ever gave it a moment's thought.
It is not true that if you can imagine it, you can have it.
"Yes, sir, all fires go out. It doesn't mean that we don't still want to sit by the fireplace, I guess."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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