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Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady (2016)

by Susan Quinn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3241681,101 (3.8)42
A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok--a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. "In 1933, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt embarked on the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. By that time, she had put her deep disappointment in her marriage behind her and developed an independent life--now threatened by the public role she would be forced to play. A lifeline came to her in the form of a feisty campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. Over the next thirty years, until Eleanor's death, the two women carried on an extraordinary relationship: They were, at different points, lovers, confidantes, professional advisors, and caring friends. They couldn't have been more different. Eleanor had been raised in one of the nation's most powerful political families and was introduced to society as a debutante before marrying her distant cousin, Franklin. Hick, as she was known, had grown up poor in rural South Dakota and worked as a servant girl after escaping an abusive home, eventually becoming one of the most respected reporters at the AP. Her admiration drew the buttoned-up Eleanor out of her shell, and the two fell in love. For the next thirteen years, Hick had her own room at the White House, next to the First Lady's. These fiercely compassionate women inspired each other to right the wrongs of the turbulent era in which they lived. During the Depression, Hick reported from the nation's poorest areas for the WPA, and Eleanor used these reports to lobby her husband for New Deal programs. Hick encouraged Eleanor to turn their frequent letters into her popular and long-lasting syndicated column 'My Day,' and to befriend the female journalists who became her champions. When Eleanor's tenure as First Lady ended with FDR's death, Hick urged her to continue to use her popularity for important causes--advice Eleanor took by leading the UN's postwar Human Rights Commission. At every turn, the bond between these two women was grounded in their determination to better their troubled world. Deeply researched and told with great warmth, Eleanor and Hick is a vivid portrait of love and a revealing look at how an unlikely romance influenced some of the most consequential years in American history"--Publisher description.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I thought I knew a lot about Eleanor Roosevelt, but I was missing one important part. It's not clear whether Eleanor and Hick's relationship was ever sexual, but it's clear that it was a love affair. Many of Eleanor's best women friends were lesbians, although for the most part, the couples did not include her. These were things not talked about by the press in those days. Franklin's disability was not displayed in images either. Those were different times -- a whole other world from what we have now. Eleanor had a tremendous capacity for work, for caring about people she met, who often became life-long friends, for people in general, and for loving in a variety of ways. ( )
  dvoratreis | May 22, 2024 |
Skipped through the last third; the recital of the friendship gets a bit stale; though some of the Eleanor and White House anecdotes are still pretty good.
  2wonderY | Dec 30, 2019 |
I had only a cursory knowledge of FDR's presidency and was vaguely aware that Eleanor Roosevelt was an important influence and politically active in her own right. So, I learned a lot and found this book provided a look into the workings of the White House and how various decisions played out. The relationship between Eleanor and Hick (Lorena Hickok) was the centre for this narrative. The Roosevelts didn't have a happy marriage; he was serially unfaithful to her and she never wanted to be FLOTUS. Eleanor looked elsewhere for companionship and love. Hick was an important person in her life and their letters to each other survived and provide a lot of the details found in this book. It's well written and gives a good portrait of the two title characters. It provides another perspective of an important time in U.S. history, thereby adding depth to our understanding . ( )
  LynnB | Jul 28, 2019 |
Slow starting, never really got a good structure going. I finished feeling really let down. A good synopsis of the times, with amusing anecdotes, but it just didn't hang together for me. ( )
  tututhefirst | Apr 27, 2019 |
A good book that seemed to take a long time to get through. Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock had a long-term relationship. Early in the marriage when Eleanor discovered Franklin's breakage of his marriage vows to woe Eleanor's private secretary, Eleanor knew that wanted to divorce him, but his running for the US Presidency precluded that option. She was by his side when necessary, but basically found her own options for closeness and love.

Different in personality, Hick was broad in both weight and in the way she expressed herself. Eleanor chose the middle ground in conflict. Formerly a highly acclaimed AP reporter, Hick gave this up in order to be by Eleanor when ever possible. Traveling throughout the mid west during American's terrible financial depression, she wrote to FDR of grown men crying while standing in line hoping for employment in order to feed his family.

There were interesting tidbits throughout the book, particularly how the Roosevelts freely used the White House as a stopping place for friends and relatives to stay long term.

Highly intelligent, both women pushed for jobs programs and personally fed people throughout their travels.

Hick seemed to want more than Eleanor could give. Theirs was a long lasting relationship that had tremendous range of feeling and compassion. ( )
  Whisper1 | Nov 14, 2018 |
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Susan Quinnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Farr, KimberlyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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By the time Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, his wife, Eleanor, had succeeded in forging an independent life for herself -- a life of teaching, writing, and political activism. - Introduction
By the time Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nominated for President, in August 1932, some doubted whether a survivor of polio, paralyzed from the waist down, had the strength to conduct a vigorous campaign, let alone lead the country out of the worst economic depression in its history. -Chapter One
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A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok--a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. "In 1933, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt embarked on the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. By that time, she had put her deep disappointment in her marriage behind her and developed an independent life--now threatened by the public role she would be forced to play. A lifeline came to her in the form of a feisty campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. Over the next thirty years, until Eleanor's death, the two women carried on an extraordinary relationship: They were, at different points, lovers, confidantes, professional advisors, and caring friends. They couldn't have been more different. Eleanor had been raised in one of the nation's most powerful political families and was introduced to society as a debutante before marrying her distant cousin, Franklin. Hick, as she was known, had grown up poor in rural South Dakota and worked as a servant girl after escaping an abusive home, eventually becoming one of the most respected reporters at the AP. Her admiration drew the buttoned-up Eleanor out of her shell, and the two fell in love. For the next thirteen years, Hick had her own room at the White House, next to the First Lady's. These fiercely compassionate women inspired each other to right the wrongs of the turbulent era in which they lived. During the Depression, Hick reported from the nation's poorest areas for the WPA, and Eleanor used these reports to lobby her husband for New Deal programs. Hick encouraged Eleanor to turn their frequent letters into her popular and long-lasting syndicated column 'My Day,' and to befriend the female journalists who became her champions. When Eleanor's tenure as First Lady ended with FDR's death, Hick urged her to continue to use her popularity for important causes--advice Eleanor took by leading the UN's postwar Human Rights Commission. At every turn, the bond between these two women was grounded in their determination to better their troubled world. Deeply researched and told with great warmth, Eleanor and Hick is a vivid portrait of love and a revealing look at how an unlikely romance influenced some of the most consequential years in American history"--Publisher description.

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