Review: Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

Loving Eleanor-larger pic

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential campaign, the two women become deeply involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship documented by 3300 letters.

Set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War, Loving Eleanor reveals Eleanor Roosevelt as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation’s First Lady. Hick is an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.

My thoughts:

I have to say I am selective in what I read about political figures or their families. Often times I find them to be completely one-sided or bias. When I came across this story, I became intrigued with the premise and not having read historical fiction before on Eleanor Roosevelt, I decided to take the chance.

This story grabbed me from the beginning and I was taken quite surprised by many aspects of the story told. The portrayal of Eleanor and her relationship with Lorena Hickok was the most surprising. Though I won’t talk much about their relationship in this review, I will say Lorena-Hick-seemed to be almost obsessed with Eleanor at times and I questioned her opinions towards Franklin Roosevelt. To say further would give spoilers.

Eleanor took me by surprised a bit in this story. In the beginning and half way through the story she seemed nothing like what I have read about her in the past. Though yes, she had an unhappy childhood, she was plain looking and she was deeply influenced by feminism of her time and I do know she disagreed with her husband’s politics at times, however I was surprised at how Hick interprets Franklin’s and his family’s treatment towards Eleanor. I guess I have a lot more research to do on this subject.

I do admire Hicks ambition in journalism and her ability to stand tall in what was a man world at the time. I won’t deny her relationship with Eleanor was complex and provokes more thought into their relationship. The fact that it’s been documented that they have written thousands of letters to each other is really extraordinary and I really enjoyed reading about that greatly.

This story is a great piece of the era, women taking a stronger stand in the world, the struggles and heart ache of personal and public life of public figures, the profound sacrifices they make and the people who they love.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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