White Houses by Amy Bloom

35876524This is a fictionalized account of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

Hickok is a reporter and is assigned to interview Eleanor Roosevelt. They form a bond, and the story traces their friendship and relationship over the years.

The book is written from Lorena’s point of view. The narrative goes back and forth between ‘present day’ and Lorena talking about her roots growing up in poverty in South Dakota.

I am intrigued with books that take real life people and weave a fictional narrative around them. I think that would be more challenging than coming up with complete fiction: you need to use facts and portray the real-life characters as they are known.

Overall I really liked this book. It took me a bit to get into the narrative and get used to the flow of the book – the flipping back and forth in time. But once I got over that, probably 25 or 30 pages, I really got into it and enjoyed it.

I found two things particularly interesting…

The first was that, at least according to the book, it was an open secret that both Roosevelt’s were having affairs. I am not that familiar with the history, so I am assuming that this is somewhat rooted in fact. That was back in the day before full-on media coverage and social media. Today to be able to pull that off would be unthinkable. How times have changed.

The second interesting thing was around the progress of the ability to be openly gay. Hickock is a lesbian and has many relationships and affairs. They aren’t secret, but they aren’t flaunted around openly either. This theme runs through the book with another gay character, a man.

This was a good read, and great story. I would highly recommend it.

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review. (Thanks NetGalley!)

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