White houses, Amy Bloom

I know a bit about president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we always cover him in the historylessons about the depression, the New Deal and of course World War II. I know he is the only president who served three terms, but I knew little about his personal life. I only knew his wife Eleanor was also a social reformer.

White houses by Amy Bloom takes a closer look at the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor. It seems their marriage was not the best. Franklin had numerous affaires, even with his secretary, but Eleanor also had a lover.

Her passion was for the journalist Lorena Hickok. Lorena worked herself up from a poor girl from South Dakota into a respected journalist, and she and Eleanor met in 1932.

This was the beginning of an affair that lasted years.
Lorena even lived in the White house at a certain time, as 'Eleanor's best friend'. It seems that most people knew what was really happening, but nobody asked and nobody said anything outloud.

Amy Bloom begins her story in 1945, when Eleanor and Hicks (as she is known), meet again after a couple of years of not speaking to eachother. Franlin died and Eleanor must find a way through her grief. And we have flashbacks to what happened in the previous years when Eleanor and Hicks were in love.

I like how Amy Bloom managed to give us an unsentimental insight in a not very well known piece of history. It is well written and interesting and also a bit sad, because a happy end for them is of course not possible.

Published in 2018


  1. I knew a little about FDR and Eleanor's unhappy marriage, mostly from having read My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. Bloom's novel sounds very interesting. If I'm lucky, my library will have a copy. Great review as always, Bettina! :)

    1. I did not know the other book, (is it a novel or non-fiction?), but it sounds great. I did not know much about it, but thought is was very fascinating.

      Kind regards,


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