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Eleanor and Hick

The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (365 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Susan Quinn (P)2016 Penguin Audio

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An amazing story of amazing women making waves.

I love history, especially the behind the scenes stories that time tends to shove deep into the background. i found this story of Eleanor Roosevelt and how she became the World's First Lady to be deeply interesting, somewhat bittersweet and rather engrossing with E.R. the human. The circle of those around her greatly augmented the passions and vigor of her exterior persona... and perhaps gave creedence to the person within. Was it an affair of the heart? Personally, thats between E.R. and Hick. But the passion that it inspired with everything they did for the common good is proof of their love for humanity. And that is the core of this story. Hick being left on a shelf for 20 years, now that is a true moral issue. Wonderful story, deeply engrossing.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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An Icon who was real.

As an African American woman, I have always admired Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. I was told she was an advocate for "Negro" and women rights. This depiction of her life enhances my view of this historical icon. She was a president wife, a mother, a friend, a lover, an a complex woman. This depiction of some of her life revealed that she was truly human, with attributes as well as faults.. if I coud invite a historical icon to dine with me, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt would be my choice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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first lady

great insight on the first lady and her lifestyle. narrative is wonderful. great read for history buff.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Loved it.

Loved it. History as it happened around two very important women of the 20 Century.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Disguised Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt

The title of this book is deceptive. It is really simply a biography of Eleanor. The first third or less of the book deals with the relationship between Eleanor and Lorena Hickcock. It is implied that they had a full-on lesbian affair until a few hours into the book when the author makes a disclaimer saying it is not known to what extent their relationship was physical. After this first part of the book the structure changes to alternate between a bit on Hick's life and a bit on Eleanor's life with little or no connection between the two. It appears they had some kind of close relationship very early on and then went their separate ways while remaining friends. Since Eleanor had a much more complex life the book alternates between five minutes on Hick's life and a few hours on Eleanor including Franklin. It turns into a standard Eleanor biography and not a particularly distinctive one at that. The narrator is excellent but this is a disappointing listen.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Fair and balanced

As they say, the book is a fair and balanced picture of two courageous women who shaped America. Much new to ponder even for those who think they know ER. Meticulously researched.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Fascinating Duo who affected the course of histo

A Fascinating Duo who affected the course of history during the Great Depression, WW ll and race relations into today.
As a lover of all things that influence the course of our past, present and future, I found this glimpse into Eleanor Roosevelt's make up significant. Especially in HS (a Catholic School by the way), we were taught of her influence in international relations. Never knew of her conflicts with Spellman or the Catholic Church, not surprisingly, the problem was the Church's.

Of course we never heard of Hick. For 12 years my work had me living in Hyde Park part time. I made many friends in the area and frequented a restaurant across the street from the FDR Historical Site. I knew of Valkill but unfortunately never visited it. ER's relations with women was a source of snickers but not historical fact. As a matter of fact it is not proven in this book.

What I did find significant was the affection and respect, as well as the input that these two heroines had on the course of the Depression and WW ll, as well as the other course changing events during FDR's Presidency and beyond.

I enjoyed the narrator's role in the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great Story

Very poiniant & intimate. I enjoyed the historical aspect immensely. Was like being there. Excellent delivery

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Loved this...even if it went off topic

I have read a few books about the relationship between Hick and Eleanor, Empty Without You by Rodger Streitmatter is my favorite, as it has the letters, and allows you really to draw your own conclusion. That being said, I thought this book did just as good a job at portraying honestly the nature of their relationship. It gave excellent insight into each of their upbringings, and how different events in their lives contributed to how they handled relationships in their adult life. The Depression years are really the height of their most intense time together, and then their relationship cooled off, never completely, but it never again reached the intensity of the early years. All of this was portrayed very thoroughly, I thought the author did a nice job. My one complaint, is that the end of the book seemed clogged with fillers..we really did not need a recap of Eleanor Roosevelt's political activities (meeting with Khrushchev, working with the UN, how much money she was making writing My Day) as these topics have been covered in previous biographies. They were not relevant to the subject at hand, her relationship with Hick, and in fact every time we would get lost on Eleanor's political endeavors...I kept thinking, what does this have to do with Hick? The book would have been better, if it only spoke about how their relationship lessened, and where they were in each other's lives at their deaths. The rest, was information that was not relevant to the book. Overall very good, but again with that one complaint. If you are interested in the relationship between Hick and ER, you will not be disappointed, you just get a little bonus civics lesson along with the story.

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Historical Romance

I normally am not a fan of American History. I remember a lot of men doing all the wrong things. This telling of the time makes me want to know more about the strong women that helped bring times forward.

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  • Greencath
  • 12-08-16

An amazing story!

A moving story of the connection of 2 great women of America, their love and lives in a soup of important American history. The only query I have is how lesbians were perceived in those times and how lesbians themselves conducted their lives. A rounder telling would result I am sure.