White Houses
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*

White Houses Details

TitleWhite Houses
Author
ReleaseFeb 13th, 2018
PublisherRandom House Large Print Publishing
ISBN-139780525589921
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Lgbt

White Houses Review

  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    Fifty-five years after her death, and more than 70 years after she left the White House following her husband's death, Eleanor Roosevelt remains one of the most intriguing women in history. She certainly was a role model for trailblazing women not interested in being confined to the boxes in which society wants to contain them, but rather working to bring about change wherever it is needed. While much is known about her public persona, her personal life has always remained more of an enigma. Mor Fifty-five years after her death, and more than 70 years after she left the White House following her husband's death, Eleanor Roosevelt remains one of the most intriguing women in history. She certainly was a role model for trailblazing women not interested in being confined to the boxes in which society wants to contain them, but rather working to bring about change wherever it is needed. While much is known about her public persona, her personal life has always remained more of an enigma. More and more, it is understood that her marriage to FDR was more one of convenience than romance, and while his affairs were the stuff of gossip, hers, with women, were kept more secret.Perhaps Eleanor's most notable relationship was with Lorena "Hick" Hickok, once the most prominent female reporter in the U.S. Hick and Eleanor met in 1932 when Hick was covering FDR's campaign for president. Instantly smitten although the two come from vastly different worlds—the patrician Eleanor was both enchanted and horrified by Hick's rough-and-tumble exterior—after spending some time together their friendship deepens into intimacy.Hick moves into the White House and becomes known as Eleanor's "first friend." Their relationship is as talked about within White House circles as FDR's are, but the president seems content if his wife is, and he gives Hick a job within the administration. And while it is clear both women love each other, Eleanor is conflicted about her feelings for Hick, her role as First Lady, and whether she should continue to enjoy her relationship, or whether she isn't a suitable match, and if she should set Hick free.Amy Bloom's White Houses is a fictionalized account of the decades-long relationship between two women who have seen so much, yet still find wonder in each other, even at a time where such relationships could mean ruin. It's a story about how the power of love isn't always enough to see you through, but the strength of a friendship can power a relationship. It's also a story of a woman who grew up poorer than poor finds herself in the midst of a life she couldn't even begin to dream of, yet she can't have everything she wants."I wasn't in love with Eleanor. We had agreed that 'in love' had burned out after four years for us, the way it does for most of us, in two months or two years and, I guess, never for some lucky people. Instead of a trail of fire roaring through, those people get small candles steadily lighting the way home until death do they part, and only the young are stupid enough to think that those two old people, him gimping, her squinting, are not in love. I got by. I lived amputated, which sounds worse than it felt. I learned to do all kinds of large and small tasks, with part of me missing, and I feel pretty sure that the people who watched me in the world thought that I was entirely able-bodied." White Houses follows the two women through three decades of their relationship, and flashes back to Hick's hardscrabble childhood and young adulthood, where she learned how to fend for herself. Although it moves a little slowly at times, it's a poignant love story and a look at history that I found fascinating, moving, and thought-provoking. Hick is brash and confident, yet she has a tender, vulnerable side that Eleanor often brings out in her, while Eleanor had two faces—the public woman bent on saving the world, and the private woman who just wanted to be loved but didn't know if she was worthy.I have been a big fan of Amy Bloom's for a number of years and find her writing absolutely dazzling. This book is beautifully written, and while I didn't completely warm to Bloom's last few historical novels, preferring her more modern fiction, I really enjoyed this one. Her words conveyed the emotional conflict, the longing, and the protectiveness both women felt, and brought so much depth to this story.NetGalley and Random House provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available! See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    Whenever I read fictionalized accounts of famous people I always wonder about what really happened. I especially wonder about their conversations and I have to keep reminding myself that I'm reading a work of fiction. Amy Bloom in this wonderfully written book, imagines the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lenora Hickok, an AP reporter who becomes Eleanor's "first friend" and actually for a time moves into the White House. While I did wonder here what actually happened and what was ima Whenever I read fictionalized accounts of famous people I always wonder about what really happened. I especially wonder about their conversations and I have to keep reminding myself that I'm reading a work of fiction. Amy Bloom in this wonderfully written book, imagines the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lenora Hickok, an AP reporter who becomes Eleanor's "first friend" and actually for a time moves into the White House. While I did wonder here what actually happened and what was imagined, what their relationship was really like, the story definitely has a real feel to it and almost reads like Lorena's memoir as it is told from her point of view. The two could not have come from more opposite backgrounds and while we get glimpses from their conversations of the privileged, upper crust family that Eleanor was raised in, we get more details about Lenora's sad childhood of poverty and abuse. The narrative moves back and forth from the 1945, just after FDR died as Eleanor summons Lenora to her side. They have not been together for a long time, but their beginnings and past relationship is told by Lenora and we get a better understanding of what these two women meant to each other. The joyful descriptions of their trips together as well as other times spent together in the White House depict a loving relationship. I couldn't help but be thankful that Eleanor had Lenora as her solace, while FDR carried on his extramarital affairs in the White House and their children always seeming to favor their father. Another aspect of the book that I really liked was how through their story, the time and events around them are depicted such as the Depression and some interesting things about The Lindbergh kidnapping. I was hoping that Bloom would have included sources. Since what I read is an advanced copy, I hope that in the final version they will be listed . I did enjoy it for sure. It's 3.5+ stars for me and that reflects my own dilemma with this type of book, based on real people, but I have to move it up to 4 stars because the writing is not to be missed. Thanks once again to Diane and Esil for another terrific read together, which we have made into a monthly event. I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Random House through NetGalley.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 starting-my-new-year-in-reading-with-an-absolute-BANG 🎉 💥 🎇 stars to White Houses 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟My grandmother had a saying that what you were doing when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you will be doing all year long. I always thought it was some kind of scare tactic. 😂 I shared that with some of my book friends, and they were told a similar saying, but instead it’s what you do on New Year’s Day. I’ll take that and run with it because I was reading this book on that day, and 5 starting-my-new-year-in-reading-with-an-absolute-BANG 🎉 💥 🎇 stars to White Houses 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟My grandmother had a saying that what you were doing when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you will be doing all year long. I always thought it was some kind of scare tactic. 😂 I shared that with some of my book friends, and they were told a similar saying, but instead it’s what you do on New Year’s Day. I’ll take that and run with it because I was reading this book on that day, and you know what that means?! I’m in for a bang-up reading year! 🙌 Amy Bloom knows how to weave a story. I don’t even think it took me a full paragraph to become immersed. White Houses is told from Lorena Hickok’s point of view, as if she’s talking right to you and telling you the story. What a life she has to share with the reader. She had a tough childhood infused with abuse and abandonment, but wow, did she ever come out swinging as a journalist for Associated Press asked to cover FDR’s first run for president. This book is about Lorena Hickok’s life, but even more than that, it’s a tale of friendship, devotion, and love; love between Lorena and Eleanor Roosevelt. This is a work of fiction, and I had to remind myself of that repeatedly. It truly reads like the most fascinating memoir. While I now know there are a large number of letters available between Lorena and Eleanor, there’s a lot left to interpretation, which historians have long-debated. In this book, whether it’s true or not, it was genuine and immersive. I was mesmerized by their love for each other- hook, line, and sinker. I want to be careful, though, and say that this book is NOT a romance, nor is it a historical romance. It’s most definitely historical fiction with a strong backdrop of early 20th century life- from The World’s Fair, the Lindbergh kidnapping, and FDR’s presidency (and his affairs...). It just so happens that an alluring companionship between Eleanor and Lorena unfolds within these pages. Thank you a million times to Amy Bloom, Random House, and Netgalley for the early copy. White Houses will be published on February 13, 2018.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 A fly on the wall, that is how I felt reading this novel. Told from the viewpoint of Hick, we are privvy to intimate glimpses of her relationship with Eleanor, as well as glimpses into the secrets of those living in the White House. Roosevelt and his harem, as Hick calls them, the way his polio was hidden, and the relationship he and Eleanor had with their children.The book opens a short time after Roosevelt's death, and circles back to this period often. This is very much Hicks story though 3.5 A fly on the wall, that is how I felt reading this novel. Told from the viewpoint of Hick, we are privvy to intimate glimpses of her relationship with Eleanor, as well as glimpses into the secrets of those living in the White House. Roosevelt and his harem, as Hick calls them, the way his polio was hidden, and the relationship he and Eleanor had with their children.The book opens a short time after Roosevelt's death, and circles back to this period often. This is very much Hicks story though, so we also learn details of her early life, which doesn't make for pretty reading. She had a hard beginning, and in one part, though it is short lived there is some horrific happenings with a few animals, and sexual abuse. Difficult to read, and is easily skimmed over, but an important part of Hicks story, letting the reader understand what a determined individual she was, willing to fight for those she loved. Her determination to not give up let her to a life far above her beginnings.A poignant glimpse into her and Eleanor's relationships, the ups and downs, the need for secrecy, always aware of how others perceived their relationship. Amazing how many things were not written about back then, not reported, seems much easier to hide things then in current times. We also see history happening through Hicks eyes, the personality of Eleanor, and how she felt about what was happening in the world.The prose is wonderful, clear and concise, one of those books where not a word is wasted. I do think readers who love history, or the lives of Eleanor and Franklin, will like this book best. It is very well done. This was the December buddy read for Angela, Esil and myself. As always enjoyed our shared thoughts.ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Karen❄️
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a work of fiction based on the relationship of Eleanor Roosevelt and her long time friend and companion, Lorena Hickock. Lorena’s voice narrates this story. They both seemed to be lost souls that found together, what they both never had in life, and it was written in a beautiful and intimate way. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced copy!
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    White Houses is a fictionalized account of Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with Lorena Hickok. The novel is narrated from Hickok's perspective. It's more of a character study than a story. Hickok recounts part of her childhood, and moves back and forth in time, always coming back to the few days following FDR's death. What made this worth reading to me were the writing and the sharply drawn personalities of these characters. Bloom makes it easy to understand what drew these women together and p White Houses is a fictionalized account of Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with Lorena Hickok. The novel is narrated from Hickok's perspective. It's more of a character study than a story. Hickok recounts part of her childhood, and moves back and forth in time, always coming back to the few days following FDR's death. What made this worth reading to me were the writing and the sharply drawn personalities of these characters. Bloom makes it easy to understand what drew these women together and pulled them apart. And the last chapter was beautiful and heartbreaking. White Houses is a beautifully written impressionistic depiction of two women caught in a particular time in history. I knew nothing about this relationship and very little about Eleanor Roosevelt. It's always hard to know how true a work of historical fiction is to the characters or events it depicts. In this case, it's hard to tell but Bloom's depiction of these women has a convincing air of reality. I'm left wanting to read more about them -- especially Eleanor -- which is not a bad thing. A note of caution to anyone who is sensitive about child abuse and animal cruelty. There are a few difficult scenes early on dealing with Hickok's childhood. Another lovely monthly buddy read with Diane and Angela! And thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    3.5I forgot, folks, I forgot!I forgot I don’t like historical fiction that’s based on famous people. Why was my memory snoozing when I picked up this book? I remember (of course, too late) that I swore off reading such books after I finished Twain's End and suddenly thought Mark Twain was a jerk. I used to like Mark Twain, but after reading that book, where it shows how he ruined his mistress’s life, I hate his guts. I even researched the facts a little, and yep, it appears he really was a basta 3.5I forgot, folks, I forgot!I forgot I don’t like historical fiction that’s based on famous people. Why was my memory snoozing when I picked up this book? I remember (of course, too late) that I swore off reading such books after I finished Twain's End and suddenly thought Mark Twain was a jerk. I used to like Mark Twain, but after reading that book, where it shows how he ruined his mistress’s life, I hate his guts. I even researched the facts a little, and yep, it appears he really was a bastard. But I didn’t want to know that! Erase, erase, erase that reading experience!You see, when I finish reading a fictional book about a famous person, my head insists on thinking that I’ve just read the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That the characters’ personalities, words, and actions are the exact same as those of the real people. Beep! This is not right! How to get my head to just stop that?! How to explain to my head that the story may resemble history but could be embellished and exaggerated bigtime? How much was added for the sake of drama? And how much of the story is from the author’s imagination?Luckily, this story is based on a fact that isn’t disputed: Eleanor Roosevelt and a female journalist, Lorena Hickok (called Hick), had a prolonged love affair. The book doesn’t create a negative image of either woman; its purpose is just to illuminate their scandalous love affair. The fact that Hick and Eleanor came from such opposite backgrounds makes their love story even richer. Oh, and before I bring out the Joy Jar and the Complaint Board, I need to say wow, people other than the president’s family get to live in the White House?? Does that still happen these days? Hick lived there five years! I actually checked out that fact and it appears to be true. Hick must have been shaking her head, moving from the depths of squalor to the heights of luxury. How bizarre that must have been!Joy JarThe language is smart and pretty. It was smooth sailing and I’d stop now and then just to admire a phrase.I like that it’s first-person narration. Hick is the one telling the story. To me, first-person narration always makes the story more believable and it usually makes me feel cozy with the storyteller. (Ha! I like that the story was more believable, yet we’re talking about a fictional character resembling a real person. See what I mean about my not being able to separate a fictional character from the person it is based on?!)No over-the-top drama and no smut. Tasteful and eloquent. No graphic sex, no drama for drama’s sake. Even in the first half of the book, where Hick is describing her tough past, the story never veers into high-drama land. The concentration is on how much they cared about each other and how they had to keep their relationship a secret—as much as they could. This was an era when being gay was not accepted, of course, so secret was the name of the game.Really got a sense of the era. And I also got a sense of the lives of the rich and famous. I was at times fascinated, at times bored, with the details of the good life. The life of the filthy rich equals vacations, flowers, comfort, multi-coursed meals, tea, maids, country houses, high ceilings, gardens, gold trimming, abundance, fanfare, elaborate everything.First half of the book is boiling. It’s intense and powerful. We learn about Hick’s incredibly brutal life—sexual abuse, poverty, and neglect were mainstays. Oh, and she had a stint in a circus, which is completely fascinating. As is true of the whole book, her life story is handled without over-the-top drama, which is impressive. Complaint BoardThe second half of the book fizzles. I was all jazzed up after reading about Hick’s early life, but the second half of the book made me go still. The story never seems to boil again. It’s sort of the same thing over and over. It’s clear that there is lots of love between them, but the descriptions seem somewhat monotonous and flat.Timeframe madness. Well, I’m making that sound all dramatic when it really isn’t. I think there were three timeframes and we had to jump from one to the other without much help. I got confused; the jumpiness made the story seem a little scattered.Passion coated in Xanax. It was a low dose, okay? This was a general feeling I had, which I couldn’t exactly pinpoint. I think maybe it’s because Hick described what she loved about Eleanor, but we never hear from Eleanor and we never see a whole lot of interaction. It’s mostly Hick describing how much she cares for Eleanor. Come to think of it, maybe that is a problem with first-person narration. But the toned-down passion kept me at a distance. I didn’t ever feel like I was in the same room with them and I didn’t really feel much sympathy.I didn’t particularly like Hick. She seemed too tough and self-centered. I’d also describe her as abrasive, unfriendly, and somewhat stoic. Maybe that’s another reason I felt distant from her and the story. It’s easy to understand her tough veneer, given her brutal childhood, but I just didn’t like her much.I liked Amy Bloom’s writing enough that I would definitely read another of her books. I’m rating this one 3.5. A good read, but too many entries on the Complaint Board to grant it 4 stars. When I was done reading, I uttered a meh.Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    “In many dreams I've held you near,Now, at last, you're really here.“Where have you been?I've looked for you forever and a dayWhere have you been?I'm just not myself when you're away” -- Where Have You Been lyrics by Kathy MatteaWhen Franklin D. Roosevelt was campaigning to become the 32nd President, Lorena Hickok was one of many reporters covering his campaign. Through this, she meets, and is befriended by Eleanor Roosevelt, despite their vast differences, economically and scholastically. Wh “In many dreams I've held you near,Now, at last, you're really here.“Where have you been?I've looked for you forever and a dayWhere have you been?I'm just not myself when you're away” -- Where Have You Been lyrics by Kathy MatteaWhen Franklin D. Roosevelt was campaigning to become the 32nd President, Lorena Hickok was one of many reporters covering his campaign. Through this, she meets, and is befriended by Eleanor Roosevelt, despite their vast differences, economically and scholastically. Where Lorena Hickok, or “Hick” as she was called, was raised in an impoverished part of South Dakota, among the poorest of the poor, sexually abused, physically abused, and always, always hungry. Eleanor was raised without need. Hick worked in a man’s world, and could be brash and sometimes vulgar. Eleanor was the poster woman for compassion and endurance. Their friendship may not have been rooted in conventional backgrounds, but their friendship blossomed, nevertheless. After FDR’s election, her status as “first friend” was a well know, if not openly acknowledged, state of affairs. And as this relationship deepens into more than just infatuation, more than just friendship, their bond becomes something seemingly unbreakable. Amy Bloom gives us a glimpse into the private lives of these two public women, and the love they shared behind closed doors. What Bloom does bring to this is a wonderful insight into the times, and how these two women met and were irresistibly drawn to the other, seeing in each other the pieces that were missing in their lives. How their love changes over time. It is a love song, with a lifetime of verses. Throughout, this story is relayed with a bit of veneration for their beautiful life-long love, a wonderfully imagined and told story of love. The writing seems subtly perceptive, if not consistently elevated, but there are moments, most notably the final chapter, which were so beautifully written that it took my breath away. Pub Date 13 Feb 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Random House
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    This has to be Amy Bloom's best and most beautiful book yet. She left her heart on its pages, especially the heart of Lorena Hickok. Most of us know what an incredible woman Eleanor Roosevelt was as First Lady to FDR and later in her own right, stepped out from behind her husband's shadow. Eleanor was a tireless giver, to her family, her husband, her children, the people of this country, and even the world. She fought for the downtrodden, the poor, civil rights, hunger, women, worker's rights, e This has to be Amy Bloom's best and most beautiful book yet. She left her heart on its pages, especially the heart of Lorena Hickok. Most of us know what an incredible woman Eleanor Roosevelt was as First Lady to FDR and later in her own right, stepped out from behind her husband's shadow. Eleanor was a tireless giver, to her family, her husband, her children, the people of this country, and even the world. She fought for the downtrodden, the poor, civil rights, hunger, women, worker's rights, etc. She hardly accepted or even received affection from her family, husband or children. If any part of this beautiful historical novel is true, and I'm sure the relationship is, I'm so pleased that Eleanor had such happiness in her life. Whatever is imagined here let Eleanor have received its bounty.Thank you Netgalley, Amy Bloom, and Random House.
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  • *TUDOR^QUEEN*
    January 1, 1970
    This is a work of historical fiction about first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her romantic relationship with American journalist Lorena Hickok (nicknamed "Hick"). Born in Wisconsin, Hickok triumphed over a disastrous childhood to eventually become a reporter for the Associated Press (AP). She was assigned to cover Franklin D. Roosevelt's first presidential campaign when she established a close friendship with the future First Lady. I had an unusual experience reading this book in that I tore throu This is a work of historical fiction about first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her romantic relationship with American journalist Lorena Hickok (nicknamed "Hick"). Born in Wisconsin, Hickok triumphed over a disastrous childhood to eventually become a reporter for the Associated Press (AP). She was assigned to cover Franklin D. Roosevelt's first presidential campaign when she established a close friendship with the future First Lady. I had an unusual experience reading this book in that I tore through the first third of the book during a short evening, it was so riveting. This occurred while reading about Hick's horrible childhood. Ironically enough, once I transitioned to the next two thirds of the book covering Hick's existence while living amidst the Franklins, I found it much less interesting. While I had an emotional investment in the trevails of Hick's wretched youth and admired her triumph over adversity, I didn't feel that connection to the adult version of her character. I'm not sure if it comes down to her not being likeable or a lack of depth to the writing. Perhaps the sheer poignancy of her upbringing was enough to lure me in, but the rest of the book (sadly) left me wanting.Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this advance reader copy in return for my honest review.
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  • Laura Sandonato
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley for giving me White Houses in exchange for my honest review.Eleanor Roosevelt had an affair with a woman, who Knew? Apparently, it’s not so common, common knowledge. In White Houses, Amy Bloom tells a fictional story about the real-life romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. White Houses fascinated me, but not it the way you might guess.White Houses, though it chronicles a love affair between a famous, married woman and a reporter, isn’t ask scandalous as you’d Thanks to NetGalley for giving me White Houses in exchange for my honest review.Eleanor Roosevelt had an affair with a woman, who Knew? Apparently, it’s not so common, common knowledge. In White Houses, Amy Bloom tells a fictional story about the real-life romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. White Houses fascinated me, but not it the way you might guess.White Houses, though it chronicles a love affair between a famous, married woman and a reporter, isn’t ask scandalous as you’d think. This wasn’t some tawdry affair. More important, White Houses is as much about Lorena Hickok’s childhood as it is about the affair. And Hickok’s childhood was tragic.Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok: A Not So Shocking AffairI found Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok (or Hick as the Roosevelts call her) to be quite cheesy. Judging by the quotes I found on Brain Pickings from their real-life correspondence, they may have actually been a bunch of cheese balls.At the beginning of the book, Hick resigns from her job at the Associated Press. She is so in love with Eleanor Roosevelt that she can no longer report on her. She then takes a job with the White House. “Franklin said, Much better to have you inside the tent, Hick, and pissing out.” Hick moves into the White House and her affair with Eleanor continues, which is about all I can say about it because the lesbian affair was the least interesting part of the book.Lorena Hickok’s Heartbreaking ChildhoodAbuse and instability characterizes Hick's childhood. After her mother dies, Hick works as a “hired girl,” or nanny/maid. Her revolting father pops up in the book now and again, and every time, I wanted to punch him. Hick goes to college, but can’t cut it. Instead, she gets a job with the Battle Creek Evening News. She works her way up from there. I appreciated that White Houses told her personal story, albeit fictionalized. Hick carved her own place in the world despite her unfortunate circumstances.Who Should Read White HousesWhite Houses is worth checking out (literally or figuratively). Although I divided the two main parts of the book (Hickok’s relationship with Eleanor and Hickok’s childhood) into two sections, Bloom interweaves them. Sometimes I found it a little confusing. But White Houses still sucked me in. I still think about Hickok’s tragic upbringing. The White Houses version was on par with the childhoods of Jeanette Walls and J.D. Vance, and at times much worse. If you’re an Eleanor Roosevelt fan, interested in badass women in history, or fascinated by train wreck childhoods, White Houses is definitely for you.For stand-out quotes and additional historical context, visit Picking Books.
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  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    January 1, 1970
    To be reviewed!
  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    I said that the Potsdam diner was a delight. She said that after the funeral there was corned beef and cabbage and homemade beer. She said the service was Irish Catholic and heartfelt. I hung up my coat and made a show of taking out my notebook and doing my job, and asking about her husband's ambitions. Lordy lord, if you can manage to read such flat, 'told', random prose then you're more tolerant than I am. I'm really intrigued by this relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and 'Hick', a lesbi I said that the Potsdam diner was a delight. She said that after the funeral there was corned beef and cabbage and homemade beer. She said the service was Irish Catholic and heartfelt. I hung up my coat and made a show of taking out my notebook and doing my job, and asking about her husband's ambitions. Lordy lord, if you can manage to read such flat, 'told', random prose then you're more tolerant than I am. I'm really intrigued by this relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and 'Hick', a lesbian journalist who moved into the White House during FDR's presidency - but this book didn't work for me at all. Firstly, the prose just doesn't flow: there are whole paragraphs where every sentence begins either 'I' or 'I've' ('I've done the flowers... I got stock and snapdragons... I've put a vaseful... I've straightened up the four rooms... I've gone to the corner grocery... I hope... I bought' - all from just the first page!) which makes the reading stilted and dull. On top of this, the whole story feels shallow and superficial: there's no sense of history, the White House could be any suburban home, and there's little attention to the politics and causes which consumed Eleanor Roosevelt in real life. Even the lesbian affair is normalised and made boring: 'We came back from our northern holiday more in love than when we'd left. People could see it a mile away' - is that really how a sexual relationship between two women, one of them married to the President, would have been regarded in the 1930s? Characterisation, too, is paper-thin, and there's no chemistry or heat between our lovers. I learned more about the complicated ways in which Eleanor Roosevelt negotiated ideas and ideals of womanhood and wifeliness from a chapter in What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories than I did in this whole novel.There's a great story clamouring to get out but sadly this novel doesn't do it justice. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I had a lot of trouble deciding how to rate this book, because my feelings were all over the map. There were parts that were 5 stars for me, and parts that didn't work as well. There were times the writing felt a bit too distant, and times when it was intensely raw and intimate. But overall, this was a really worthwhile reading experience.There is not really a plot to this book. It is more a series of vignettes of Hick and Eleanor's relationship over the years. Things jump back and forth in time I had a lot of trouble deciding how to rate this book, because my feelings were all over the map. There were parts that were 5 stars for me, and parts that didn't work as well. There were times the writing felt a bit too distant, and times when it was intensely raw and intimate. But overall, this was a really worthwhile reading experience.There is not really a plot to this book. It is more a series of vignettes of Hick and Eleanor's relationship over the years. Things jump back and forth in time, not really in any particular order, and I didn't completely understand the timeline of their on-again, off-again relationship. As a reader who is usually very plot focused, this is something I can have difficulty with, but I can occasionally enjoy a non-plotcentric story if the characters and the writing click for me, and in this case they mostly did. The writing style, at least in the most intimate moments between Hick and Eleanor, often reminded me of Our Souls At Night, so if you liked that you might dig this one too.I really enjoyed being inside the head of this fictional version of Hick, and seeing the relationship through her eyes. There was so much beauty in how she told the story of their relationship, and a whole spectrum of emotions. What really connected me to the story, though, was the aching, often unfulfilled longing that permeated the narrative. I'm a sucker for that, so it really really worked for me. Definitely recommend if you think you can handle the lack of plot and meandering timeline.*I received a free pre-release copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    I have often wondered what draws me to literary fiction and I believe the answer is this: fiction creates worlds, while non-fiction relays these worlds. This is a vast simplification, of course, but it helped me to understand my mixed feelings about White Houses.The book is based on fact: the intriguing relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her oft-companion, Lorena Hickok, the AP reporter who was assigned to cover her. Based on more than three thousand letters between the two women, the bo I have often wondered what draws me to literary fiction and I believe the answer is this: fiction creates worlds, while non-fiction relays these worlds. This is a vast simplification, of course, but it helped me to understand my mixed feelings about White Houses.The book is based on fact: the intriguing relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her oft-companion, Lorena Hickok, the AP reporter who was assigned to cover her. Based on more than three thousand letters between the two women, the book fleshes out the very probable story of their love affair.Lorena Hickok, known as “Hick”, had a fascinating story in her own right — a survivor of childhood abuse who became a lead reporter on the Lindbergh child kidnapping and later, the First Friend to the First Lady. Amy Bloom has done ample research and the revelations she makes are compelling: the role, for example, of Missy LeHand, Eleanor’s troubled relationship with her daughter Anna and her spoiled sons, the nuances of living with a charismatic man who draws people to him while often sucking all the air from the room.But while the theme was the desire to create an authentic life in an inauthentic world, the book is largely plot-driven. I was never entirely certain why Eleanor was drawn to Hick above all others. I wanted to know more about the complex emotions that surely must have accompanied being in a fishbowl at a time when a same-gender love affair was misunderstood and often condemned by a vast majority of Americans. In short, I wanted to get beneath the story to fully understand the complexities of a love affair between two fascinating and very complex women.Since I couldn’t quite accomplish that, there were times that I had the uncomfortable feeling of peering into the lives of two women who were fiercely committed to keeping their lives private. The actual love scenes between Eleanor and Hick, while tastefully done, made me feel as if I had pulled off the covers from their protected world – the only oasis Eleanor Roosevelt must have experienced from a very public life. Is giving a voice to an untold portion of history its own goal? Many readers might say – and quite rightly – that it is. I’ll be very curious to see what other passionate readers have to say.
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  • Valerity *
    January 1, 1970
    I found this to be a well written historical fiction that made for a thoughtful read as it looks back into the relationship between Eleanor Franklin and journalist Lorena ”Hick” Hickock. It’s not my usual genre but I enjoyed a great deal the way it was handled. It’s told in the voice of Hickock, who worked for the Associated Press covering Roosevelt’s run for the White House when she met Eleanor. Over time they became very close. By the time the election was won, Hick knew she had to quit her jo I found this to be a well written historical fiction that made for a thoughtful read as it looks back into the relationship between Eleanor Franklin and journalist Lorena ”Hick” Hickock. It’s not my usual genre but I enjoyed a great deal the way it was handled. It’s told in the voice of Hickock, who worked for the Associated Press covering Roosevelt’s run for the White House when she met Eleanor. Over time they became very close. By the time the election was won, Hick knew she had to quit her job to protect both of the Roosevelts. Eleanor invited her to move into the White House and in time she went to work for Franklin.  She tells how they managed a love against the odds.I never realized before that the Roosevelt’s served 4 terms in the White House and that Eleanor was the longest-serving First Lady. She held the post from March of 1933 to April of 1945.  She's also known as a diplomat, activist, humanitarian and for her later work with the United Nations as US Delegate.  Eleanor Roosevelt/ Quotes:The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.Do one thing every day that scares you.Women are like teabags. You don't know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Oct. 11, 1884 – Nov. 7, 1962Lorena Alice Hickok March 7, 1893 – May 1, 1968Thanks for reading.An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, Random House Publishers, and Amy Bloom for my review.Expected publication date is Feb 13, 2018
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    Whilst watching (and sleeping to, it seriously is incredibly effective as a sleeping aid) PBS miniseries The Roosevelts, I was surprised to see the insignificant amount of screen time given to Eleanor’s lesbian affair. Albeit in no small way owning to the fact that the PBS went after just about every other detail with the sort of exhaustive attention that resulted in a seemingly endless program. I mean it does end eventually, I just haven’t made it there yet. Not because it isn’t fascinating and Whilst watching (and sleeping to, it seriously is incredibly effective as a sleeping aid) PBS miniseries The Roosevelts, I was surprised to see the insignificant amount of screen time given to Eleanor’s lesbian affair. Albeit in no small way owning to the fact that the PBS went after just about every other detail with the sort of exhaustive attention that resulted in a seemingly endless program. I mean it does end eventually, I just haven’t made it there yet. Not because it isn’t fascinating and well done, but because I can’t seem to stay awake long enough for it. This book, to quite the opposite effect, was selected on a sleepless night and finished in more or less one sitting. And it is exclusively about the love of Eleanor’s life, which apparently wasn’t her charismatic spouse, but a stout, no nonsense female reporter. Told from the perspective of the latter, it unfolds in alternating timelines, and with a passion for ardent, at times I struggled to reconcile it with the image of Eleanor Roosevelt as she exists in public knowledge, from diffident wife to an outspoken supporter of liberal (quite so for the times) ideas. Lorena, of whom I knew not much at all going in, comes across as a talented writer, romantic and (surprisingly…see photos, consider the era) a total player. The narrative’s perspective is obviously biased, Roosevelt is not just a president, he’s a romantic rival. In fact his great accomplishments are somewhat underplayed, here he comes across mostly as a charming handsome womanizer, not one of the greatest president this country has ever had. Lorena and Eleanor’s romance seems credible, much of it outlined within actual historical facts and correspondence…oh, what letters they wrote back in the day. But, of course, not quite meant to have a proper fairy tale happy ending, too many outside factors, too many ideas and ideals and causes. For me, it was very enjoyable to have a fictionalized account to go with the documentary one, sort of like adding the color to the black and white format, quite literally, in this case, the tv miniseries are strictly B&W. It’s good to know the facts, but nice to have the embellishments as it were. I think I shall do some more research to round up my general knowledge of the situation. Maybe the embellishments were too embelishy? There was certainly some froufrou writing going on. I’m not familiar with the author, but her other titles seem to be heavily lovecentric, so this did veer into women’s fiction now and then, but it read nicely, very elegant sort of narrative with oh so much (too much?) lovely love language. And then at times it was just genuinely sweet, like reflections on the way relationships progress and mature with age. Whatever you may think of the book, there’s still a pretty awesome fact that great many decades ago a beloved First Lady had a lesbian love affair while at the White House during one of the most trying times in American history and apparently with her husband’s consent. Now that’s a story. Life…sometimes is really is stranger than fiction. And now I have both fictional and nonfictional accounts, so my brain can pick and choose and eventually create its own version of the events from an educative perspective. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    wow, I loved it. I didn't expect to be so interested in Eleanor Roosevelt's love life, but Lorena Hickok is the gem in the novel- well done Amy Bloom!via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/(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.)I never thought I would find a fictional novel about Eleanor Roosevelt and her “scanda wow, I loved it. I didn't expect to be so interested in Eleanor Roosevelt's love life, but Lorena Hickok is the gem in the novel- well done Amy Bloom!via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/(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.)I never thought I would find a fictional novel about Eleanor Roosevelt and her “scandalous love” for her friend Lorena Hickok ( Hick) to be so romantic. It’s not Eleanor though, it’s Hick’s life that I couldn’t get enough of. By turns horrifying and exciting, I wanted to save her from her disturbingly abusive, poverty-stricken upbringing and celebrate every success and thrill she worked so hard for later in life. Hick’s musings about Eleanor’s children rang true, mothers aren’t real people in the eyes of their kids, even as they grow into adulthood. Mothers take care of things, and certainly weren’t expected to be sexual beings with needs, more so back in the day. Women were meant to be proper, Eleanor seems to be forgiven nothing yet Franklin certainly was indulged by his children, for his passions be they women or anything else. Eleanor seemed to belong to a different time, how different things could have played out in our modern times. One thing that was certain then, her children were needy, it was she who carried them and who was betrayed by their loyalties. Hick’s life has made her perceptive, and she is the eye into the marriage of the Roosevelt’s. Hick tells the story of Eleanor’s motherhood too, and the resentment she feels in the treatment she often witnessed that Eleanor received as the children aged.Eleanor’s desire to know ‘once upon a time’ tales from Lorena’s childhood was crushing, and the differences in their suffering vast. Eleanor may have been a disappointment to her mother, for lack of beauty but Lorena’s life is a nightmare by comparison, one that makes any tale of woe in Eleanor’s memory seem golden. Though similar loses are shared between the ‘companions’ the differences are extreme. Suffering is a strange best, but it’s hard to feel sorry for the wounds that seem so miniscule when held up against what Lorena has survived. There is a part in the novel where Eleanor is doing the proper thing of a first lady, dining as only those during the depression should, bland food, nothing of pleasure that her grand status can certainly afford and Lorena’s thought “…Eleanor, you have never eaten food like this in your life, except when you wanted to,” expresses perfectly how those with nothing would feel. Eleanor means well, she wants to relate to the people, to be deserving of her place in history, and yet there is something so funny, a little condescending about it. It comes off as ridiculous and yet there is something tender and delicate about Eleanor, who looked like a bruiser, how deceiving our bodies are.This is a beautiful love story, Hick’s is there when Eleanor loses Franklin, and even grieves herself with the country for the loss of a great man. She is there to feel the wounds Eleanor suffers when her children are disloyal, as she tells it “Eleanor’s body is the landscape of my true home.” It’s fascinating someone who came from dirt was able to make her way into the household of the White House, and into the heart of Eleanor. That Franklin tolerated it seems very progressive considering the times, and of course he had his freedom to devour the ladies, which he did with gusto but one wonders what sort of man he must have been, to allow this affair to flourish under his roof. Yes, theirs was a marriage of convenience, nothing shocking there really, but someone with his power, particularly in those days, could easily deny his wife her romantic freedoms.What a read! I adored Hick. I don’t always devour fictional novels about real people, in fact the idea often horrifies me because the liberty fiction gives the author seems to rob people of their truth. Yet I’ve read a few that have really moved me and I add this one to that list of favorites. This is one to add to your TBR pile in 2018!Publication Date: February 13, 2018Random House
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  • Staci
    January 1, 1970
    White Houses is a fact based fictional account of the life of Lorena Hickok and her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. I found the first half of this novel very engaging and interesting but the second half got a little boring.There were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about this novel. I learned a lot about Lorena Hickok and found her to be a remarkable and very accomplished person. She came from a very poor and abusive family situation yet became one of the first well known female journ White Houses is a fact based fictional account of the life of Lorena Hickok and her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. I found the first half of this novel very engaging and interesting but the second half got a little boring.There were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about this novel. I learned a lot about Lorena Hickok and found her to be a remarkable and very accomplished person. She came from a very poor and abusive family situation yet became one of the first well known female journalists of the late 1920’s to the 1930’s. This is a tremendous achievement considering the era in which it was accomplished not to mention the lack of opportunity she had growing up. It seems to me that her relationship with the First Lady overshadowed much of everything that she had accomplished which I find unfortunate. I also learned a lot about the Roosevelt White House (he was quite the hound dog) which was very interesting. The Roosevelt's were painted as definite elitists throughout the book, seemingly clueless about the real plight of the working man. They stood up for the downtrodden but had no tangible idea what it was like to be poor, lower class or powerless. This was a love story but I found it sad rather than endearing. Their love was not socially acceptable so it wasn’t something they could enjoy, appreciate or nurture. It had to hidden and neglected over countless years.The last half of the story was too much lamenting about the relationship (or lack thereof). While I understand the reasons for Ms. Hickok’s affliction, it went on too long and just wasn’t all that interesting.Overall, I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction. I think it’s an important story to get out there for a lot of reasons, one of which is to learn who Lorena Hickok was and about everything she accomplished. This novel did convince to read more by Amy Bloom.I thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    I have read two books by Amy Bloom thus far, and very much enjoyed them both. It is with sadness that I found her newest novel, White Houses, was nowhere as good as I was expecting. Whilst the social and historical context here are strong, the prose is not engaging, the plot a little lacklustre given the details which she could have focused upon, the characters shadowy, and the entirety of the book rather underwhelming.
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  • MaryBeth's Bookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    I received a digital copy of White Houses from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Historical Fiction is my favorite genre so I was very excited to receive a copy of this book. I read a lot of Historical Fiction novels and I always find myself wondering how much of this is true or how close to the truth is this story. Do I believe Eleanor Roosevelt was a lesbian - sure. However, this story seemed too far-fetched for me. Their relationship seemed too out in the open given Roosevelt's posit I received a digital copy of White Houses from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Historical Fiction is my favorite genre so I was very excited to receive a copy of this book. I read a lot of Historical Fiction novels and I always find myself wondering how much of this is true or how close to the truth is this story. Do I believe Eleanor Roosevelt was a lesbian - sure. However, this story seemed too far-fetched for me. Their relationship seemed too out in the open given Roosevelt's position and the time period. I also did not care for the writer's blunt portrayal of their relationship (I can't quote anything because I was reading an uncorrected proof) but her descriptions of the intimate details of their relationship simply do not match up with my perception of Eleanor Roosevelt as a poised, elegant, and regal woman. I simply could not find any part of this story believable.I know I'm in the minority because there are a lot of good reviews for White Houses. This just wasn't for me.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    White Houses is a short engaging fiction of the alleged lesbian relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her close friend and sometime lover Lorena Hickcock. Of course Eleanor had a protected and privileged background always surrounded, and stifled, by family while Hickok came from a tough, abusive, poor family from South Dakota and she left home in her early teens maybe not by her choice. She knocked around eventually landing as a journalist which is how she and Eleanor first met.The story sk White Houses is a short engaging fiction of the alleged lesbian relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her close friend and sometime lover Lorena Hickcock. Of course Eleanor had a protected and privileged background always surrounded, and stifled, by family while Hickok came from a tough, abusive, poor family from South Dakota and she left home in her early teens maybe not by her choice. She knocked around eventually landing as a journalist which is how she and Eleanor first met.The story sketches out their younger more urgent love that mellows into a warm and often confusing friendship with romantic flair ups. Eleanor is portrayed as human, warts and all, and her admirable qualities ar mixed with her less positive traits. I’ve often contemplated how an individual’s best qualities can morph into their worst and then spin back into their strength again. There are little gems of Franklin’s character as well that are precise as well as humorous. An entertaining book.Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance reader’s copy.
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  • Hope Sloper
    January 1, 1970
    I am head-over-heels in love with Lorena Hickok and her tale. The character and detail Lorena gives the story adds verisimilitude to the novel; I had to constantly remind myself that I was reading a work of fiction. While her childhood story was often graphic and sad, Lorena is a strong character that pushes through life, ultimately, the good and the bad, lead her to the White House. The story doesn’t stop there.She is a well written, highly developed, and perfectly seasoned character that had m I am head-over-heels in love with Lorena Hickok and her tale. The character and detail Lorena gives the story adds verisimilitude to the novel; I had to constantly remind myself that I was reading a work of fiction. While her childhood story was often graphic and sad, Lorena is a strong character that pushes through life, ultimately, the good and the bad, lead her to the White House. The story doesn’t stop there.She is a well written, highly developed, and perfectly seasoned character that had me always wanting to see more through her eyes. I’d read this novel again and again because she is that enjoyable, her tale is that entertaining.If this novel hadn’t been an ARC, I’d have a million quotes because Lorena has as many interesting things to say. This is a must-read. I have no doubt White Houses will be one of my favorite books of 2018.I have the hardcover preordered and I will certainly be checking out more of Amy Bloom.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! I had no idea!!!!! This book made me want to dive into the lives of the Roosevelts! Loved it!
  • Carla
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely LOVED this book. Amy Bloom does a wonderful job of presenting the beautiful friendship and love shared between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Alice Hickok. Eleanor Roosevelt was certainly a woman before her time. This relationship stood the test of time. An untold story, fictionalized, which is endearing. Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy for an honest review.
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  • Wendi Lee
    January 1, 1970
    *4.5 stars*I've been a fan of Amy Bloom's ever since reading Come to Me, so I was thrilled when I received an ARC for her newest novel, White Houses. I've also been interested in learning more about Eleanor Roosevelt, whom I know little about her other than her status as a progressive, feminist icon. White Houses is about the love affair between Roosevelt and her "first friend," Lorena Hickok. For several years, Hick lived in the White House with Roosevelt, and attended many of the official even *4.5 stars*I've been a fan of Amy Bloom's ever since reading Come to Me, so I was thrilled when I received an ARC for her newest novel, White Houses. I've also been interested in learning more about Eleanor Roosevelt, whom I know little about her other than her status as a progressive, feminist icon. White Houses is about the love affair between Roosevelt and her "first friend," Lorena Hickok. For several years, Hick lived in the White House with Roosevelt, and attended many of the official events. Theirs was a relationship that was ignored or overlooked, but just barely. The novel takes us through Hickok's painful childhood to the events that led to her meeting the soon-to-be First Lady, and then through the long years of their relationship. This is often a painful novel to read (for its candidness), and I found myself wondering if things might have been different for Hick and Eleanor had they lived in current times. Sadly, I don't think so. Bloom's exquisite prose does more than tell us the story of two extraordinary women, however. We see the very human lives of other famous historical figures: Amelia Earhart, Franklin Roosevelt (with all his foibles and faults), and the terrible realities of both the Depression and World War II. There is longing, and sadness, and love that survives decades. Thank you to Random House and Netgalley for an ARC.
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  • Rhonda Lomazow
    January 1, 1970
    An engrossing novel about Eleanor Roosevelt & Leonora Hicks the woman she loved .Leonora was a newspaper reporter & Eleanor moved her into the White House to be near her.Amy Bloom makes them come alive draws us in to their lives their love an unusual relationship for that time in history.I was swept away by their story another wonderful novel by Amy Bloom.Thanks to @Randomhouse&Netgalley for advance readers copy,
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  • Maine Colonial
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free ARC from the publisher through Amazon's Vine program.I’ve been an admirer of Amy Bloom’s novels for a few years now. Their subjects are wildly different, but at their heart they are all about the many types, stages and moods of love.I had no particular interest in reading about Eleanor Roosevelt or her probably-more-than-friend Lorena Hickok, but because it was Amy Bloom, I had to read it. And, as always, I was rewarded.“Hick” looks back on her painfully deprived and abusive ch I received a free ARC from the publisher through Amazon's Vine program.I’ve been an admirer of Amy Bloom’s novels for a few years now. Their subjects are wildly different, but at their heart they are all about the many types, stages and moods of love.I had no particular interest in reading about Eleanor Roosevelt or her probably-more-than-friend Lorena Hickok, but because it was Amy Bloom, I had to read it. And, as always, I was rewarded.“Hick” looks back on her painfully deprived and abusive childhood in South Dakota, her escape, becoming a journalist, her assignment to cover FDR’s presidential campaign, falling in love with Eleanor Roosevelt, and the years of their relationship until Eleanor’s death.Bloom paints a clear-eyed, touching and often amusing picture of Eleanor and Hick. Eleanor is described as so supportive of love that if Al Capone had broken into the White House with some dame, Eleanor would have found them a place upstairs to be alone. About old lovers, Bloom describes moments of memory that make the “wrinkly old bag of bones” with its sensible shoes “fall away, and your real selves rise up, briefly, dancing rosy and naked, in the middle of the subway car.”FDR is a decidedly secondary figure, but Bloom doesn’t need a lot of words to sum him up as charming and selfish. And does she sock it to various Roosevelt relatives, especially FDR and Eleanor’s children. Of Anna’s obsession with earning her father’s love, Bloom observes: “If her father were Stalin, Anna would have been cheerfully counting up dead Jews and chilling the vodka.”This is a short book, but so packed with evocative writing that it slowed me down a lot. I had to keep re-reading sentences, paragraphs, whole pages, just to savor it. If you’re a fan of beautiful writing, I would recommend White Houses whether or not you have an interest in its famous characters.
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  • Mainlinebooker
    January 1, 1970
    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 Hick 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 was 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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  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    What if being Eleanor Roosevelt's lover were not the most interesting thing about your life? I'm amazed that it's taken so long to give a fictional voice to Lorena Hickock, the extraordinary woman who loved Eleanor and was loved by her, and whose life was jam-packed with adventure. If I have any criticism of "White Houses" it's that it doesn't spend enough time on Hick's amazing achievements besides loving and supporting one of the most inspiring people in US history.Hick's start was rough, born What if being Eleanor Roosevelt's lover were not the most interesting thing about your life? I'm amazed that it's taken so long to give a fictional voice to Lorena Hickock, the extraordinary woman who loved Eleanor and was loved by her, and whose life was jam-packed with adventure. If I have any criticism of "White Houses" it's that it doesn't spend enough time on Hick's amazing achievements besides loving and supporting one of the most inspiring people in US history.Hick's start was rough, born on a farm in the middle of nowhere, dead mother, brutal father. Barely educated, sent off to be a servant, plain, blocky Hick makes her own future that included investigative reporting for major newspapers, reporting on the impact of the New Deal on displaced people, and writing respected non-fiction. She loved women all her life and had many romantic and intellectual relationships with other women. But she adored Eleanor from the moment they met and never stopped.Eleanor Roosevelt also loved women, but she also loved Franklin and their children, and had a mighty love of public service. Hick and Eleanor manage to take vacations together and spend a lot of happy time alone together. Franklin knew about their relationship, and she knew about his harem of lovers as well.This novel is a joy to read with pleasure on every page. Amy Bloom has a fine body of work already and "White Houses" is a fine addition. But I would still love another version of this book with even more detail on Hick's life outside of her love for Eleanor. What do you think, Amy?
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