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January 30, 2018

Eleanor and Hick


Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn
Biography
2016 Penguin Audio
Read by Kimberly Farr
13 hours and 44 minutes
Finished on February 25, 2017
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

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 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered 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 30 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 she escaped 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 quickly fell in love. For the next 13 years, Hick had her own room at the White House, next door to the first lady.

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 pushed her to continue to use her popularity for good - advice Eleanor took by leading the UN's postwar Human Rights Commission. At every turn the bond these women shared 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.

I've always been fascinated with Eleanor Roosevelt's life story and thought this new biography might give a little more personal (and honest) insight into her life, as well as that of Lorena Hickok. My husband and I watched The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (a wonderful Ken Burns' documentary) and after reading Quinn's biography on Eleanor, I'm inclined to watch the program a second time. My mind wandered a little bit while listening to this audio book, and overall I liked it, but it probably would have been better to read the print edition.

10 comments:

  1. I've been interested in this book... might be a good candidate for a read/listen combo.

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    1. JoAnn, I think the book have a lot of photographs, as I recall. A combo read/listen is a good idea!

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  2. I read the print copy and loved it; fascinating and yes, photos.

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    1. Diane, I think I might have missed out by listening and not reading, although I was also a bit distracted with all the preparations of getting our house on the market.

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  3. Your completed puzzles are an impressive group! I bet the hardest was the one with all the similar-looking shelves.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Mae, actually the most difficult of the puzzles was the Tom Thomson (with the water, rocks & trees).

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  4. I don't read a lot of biographies but I think this one would definitely be fascinating. I really don't know much about her life but already I want to know more just from your review!

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    1. Iliana, if you haven't watched the Ken Burns documentary, I highly recommend it, as well. I'm hoping to get back to Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, No Ordinary Time, which is all about both Franklin and Eleanor. I started it about 20 years ago! LOL!

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  5. The minute I read this review I was intrigued, so I checked this out at the library and, I must tell you.....it made me tear up at the end.

    Great story.

    Thanks for the referral.

    - Lisa

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    1. Lisa, aren't you sweet to come back and comment on this review. I'm so glad you enjoyed the review and book! I still need to get back to No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It's another one that's supposed to be very good, but I only read a few chapters.

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