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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2018 Amy Bloom (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A remarkably intimate and yet informative 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)
"Amy Bloom illuminates one of the most intriguing relationships in history. 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)

"Hick's pragmatic personality and wry sense of humor, well portrayed by narrator Tonya Cornelisse, determine the production's point of view, pace, and tone. Eleanor's patrician elocution and humanitarian sensibilities are depicted without imitation. Listeners discover the scope of the women's connection through various lenses, such as shared childhood tales on a train trip and a letter from Eleanor's cousin Parker Fiske. Cornelisse delivers these sections in a style that adds emotional dimension to the story." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I loved this story

I loved this love story, while I know it’s fiction, it’s quite evident that this author did her research. It was lovely.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Suzanne
  • Middleburg, VA, United States
  • 05-03-18

Uneven, problematic performance

A beautiful book set in the 1930s and 1940s marred by a clunky, uneven narration. The result is a performance that swings wildly from completely inauthentic to sometimes touching. But the pace is off much of the time. The narrator did not study the speech patterns of her subjects. There are so many errors of prononciation (proper names and phrases that the narrator could easily have researched) that a well informed reader may well give up within the first hour. Sticking with it reveals bright moments, particularly in the voice of ER. But there’s just no excuse for a lazy performance like this. I’d like my credit back!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

total waste

i regret buying this book. it was a waste of my time. it was very disppointing

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Look into a Part of History

I loved this book. It provides a fascinating peak into the secret life of Eleanor Roosevelt and her companion, Lorraine Hicks. Wonder ful reading too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Remember it's a novel

Hard to keep straight what is made up amd what is based on fact, but you will learn lots about these extraordinary women and the FDR Whire House. Loved the narrator's voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • ilene
  • palm desert, CA, United States
  • 03-12-18

Not worth it

I felt this was a total waste of my time. The book repeated the separations between Eleanor Roosevelt and Hick. There was little historical data or anything that would be interesting as a reader. I think few relationships could be so accepting of a their limitations and differences.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

It was okay

Since the real letters exist,I think the fictionalized aspect didn't want to for me in parts. Good actor voice by the reader, but moved too quickly over some nicely written lines. I finished the book because it was part of a book club reading assignment. Not my favorite, but some sweet moments. Wish I could have met both of them :)

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great read: not a great listen

I began listening to this audiobook while on a car trip, but my husband took an immediate dislike to the narrator. It was not until after I had finished actually READing the book, and liking it very much, that I went back to the audio version. I found that I could barely stand to listen to the voice actor's version of Hick's cigarette smoke-graveled voice. Unfortunate.

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  • Annette
  • Orange Park, FL, United States
  • 06-29-18

Surpring Story

Wonderful love story I never heard of. So much great history and name dropping too.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The love of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life was not who you think it was.

So many thoughts and feelings about this book. It’s a historical novel, the story of Eleanor Roosevelt and her lover, Lorena Hickock, affectionately referred to by her friends and closer associates as Hick. That’s right, the First Lady was bisexual, or possibly a lesbian. The two of them met when they were middle-aged ladies, a fact that makes my middle-aged heart go pitter-pat. And Hick lived in the White House for a good chunk of the 1930s--in a bedroom adjoining the First Lady’s.

All of that, as well as the fact that the President himself had girlfriends that his wife not only knew about but was distinctly friendly with, is historical fact. This being a novel, the author fills in where the historical record leaves off. Bloom writes of the reserved, upper-class Eleanor and hard-nosed reporter Hick as the love of each other’s life. Hick gave up journalism for Eleanor, when it became clear that she couldn’t write objectively about her or about her husband (who was one of Hick’s heroes as well as her rival). Eventually Eleanor’s life distanced her from Hick, but they remained close friends, corresponding as their lives continued along separate tracks. Hick was the person Eleanor turned to when her husband died, and Hick never stopped loving her.

This is a really moving story, as well as a fascinating view of the life of the inner circle of the Roosevelt administration. There’s also quite a bit about Hick’s childhood and adolescence, which makes the life of poor kids in the early 20th century vividly clear. There’s also quite a bit of exploration of the differing lives of upper-class white lesbians and those of their lower- and middle-class sisters. Very readable; highly recommend.