When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women’s deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.
Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick’s personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation’s First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.
Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick’s death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women’s love.
Praise for Loving Eleanor
Susan Wittig Albert has done it again with another engaging, rich portrait, this time of women in love. Drawn from history, the love story of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok is full of excitement, drama and pathos. Women of great intelligence and deep feelings, Eleanor and Lorena move from lovers to lifelong friends in the context of the most turbulent times of the 20th Century. As same-sex relationships finally move toward full acceptance in our culture, Albert's book reminds us that love has always been love, no matter the partners. —Robin Gerber, author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way
Susan Wittig Albert has, with imagination and deep knowledge of the historical record, supplied the missing pieces of the love story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Here is everything we wish we knew. I couldn't put it down. —Leila Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara, author of A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Love in America
Loving Eleanor, Susan Wittig Albert's novelized memoir of Lorena Hickok's intimate relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, is both richly nuanced and impressively detailed. Drawn from the thirty years of correspondence Hickok donated to the FDR Library toward the end of her life, Hick’s voice felt utterly authentic to me, always real, raw and compelling. Hick is a dichotomy—a tough, streetwise Associated Press reporter, and a tender, devoted friend and lover. This is not only an important book, but a great read. Loving Eleanor deserves to be at the top of your reading list! —Ellen Hart, author of The Grave Soul
This birds-eye view of the FDR years is engaging from the first sentence. With Eleanor Roosevelt's long-time lover as its narrator, Loving Eleanor navigates the catastrophes of the era and the heartbreak of women loving women in an unwelcoming time. —Rebecca Coffey, author of Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story
About the Author
Susan Wittig Albert is the New York Times bestselling author of over 50 adult novels and works of nonfiction, as well as 60+ novels for young adults. She and her husband Bill Albert live in the Texas Hill Country. She is the founder and president of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.
It was not clear to me until the end that this is a historical novel. It is disappointing to know that the narrative is informed speculation. The author would do well to place this information in the preface.
I did enjoy the book, however. Knowing more about ER’s personal life has lessened my sadness for her. She apparently did experience joy as well as love during her years of service.
Fascinating fast read
Although this is a first person fiction account based on the long sealed letters between these two dynamic women , it certainly was a believable and fascinating account of that period of US history. Their relationship was undeniably close and loving. Hopefully their legacy and story will be told and not buried or sanitized for public consumption.