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Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady Hardcover – September 27, 2016
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“The love affair between first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena “Hick” Hickok has never been treated with as much care or attention as in Susan Quinn’s Eleanor and Hick. Here, Quinn deftly traces the dissimilar but converging paths of these two complex women and gives new life to their intimate, dynamic relationship, against a backdrop of tremendous social upheaval.”— NPR.org, Best Books of 2016
“Splendid. . . . Written with style and verve, and vigorously researched . . . filled with delightful details and provocative musings.”—Blanche Wiesen Cook, Women’s Review of Books
“Fascinating.”—Susan Dunn, The New York Review of Books
“Making sense of this famous relationship has been complicated for historians, and Quinn concedes the impossibility of knowing what, exactly, happened between the two women physically. But, drawing extensively on their letters, she makes a strong case that the bond they shared was indeed romantic. . . .The abiding impression of this book is the intricacy of Roosevelt’s intimate life.”—The New Yorker
“A poignant account of a love affair doomed by circumstance and conflicting needs. Combining exhaustive research with emotional nuance, Quinn dives deep to convey the differing characters of president and first lady.”—Richard Norton Smith, The Wall Street Journal
“Captivating…In prose that reads as fluidly and mesmerizingly as fiction, Quinn tells the story of the First Lady's marital discontent and determination to live an independent life despite her prominent position in the public eye, and of the 30-year-long partnership and love that unfolded between Roosevelt and Hickok…Beyond just a compelling love story, Eleanor and Hick brings to light a different side of the early-20th century White House, revealing the significant impact of this unconventional relationship on American political and cultural history.” —Harper’s Bazaar, Best Books of 2016
“An engrossing double biography. . . . Quinn brings new depth to their epic, three-decade-long love story.”— New York Post
“Quinn writes about both women with great sensitivity, from the childhood wounds they both bore to their influence on one another as writers and social activists. Meticulously researched, engagingly written, and emotionally resonant, this is a welcome addition to the Roosevelt book shelf.”— The Boston Globe
“A brisk, readable account of the intersection between these two women.”— New York Times Book Review
“Quinn sorts through the over three thousand letters the two sent to each other — honest, passionate and principled correspondence — to create a fascinating picture of the power and joy of the women’s “subversive act” and its beneficial impact on the country at large.”— Brit & Co.
“Quinn has produced an intimate book, tender and wise.”—Stacy Schiff, The Washington Post
“A delightful account.”—1843 (The Economist)
“Apart from chronicling a beautiful and complex friendship, Quinn also makes a strong case here that Eleanor Roosevelt was the most politically significant first lady America has ever had.”— Bookpage
“Eleanor and Hick marvelously weaves the lives of these two women together, showing their fierce independence and yet continual dependence on each other. The book also reflects a refreshing change in cultural opinion, most likely one that will usher in books on other historical homosexual relationships just as well-researched and kind.”— St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Quinn tells Eleanor’s always astonishing story from a freshly illuminating perspective and brings forward to resounding effect intrepid, eloquent, compassionate, and tough Hick. With episodes hilarious, stunning and heartbreaking, Quinn’s compellingly intimate chronicle tells the long-camouflaged story of a morally and intellectually spirited, taboo-transcending, and world-bettering love.”—Booklist
“A well-researched dual biography. . . . Fast paced and engaging, this work will enthrall readers of presidential biographies and LGBTQ studies.” —Library Journal
“Quinn deftly explores how the unlikely relationship evolved, relying on correspondence between the women, oral histories in archives, various government documents, and numerous other sources that allow readers to learn a great deal about normally private affairs…. A relentlessly captivating study of two remarkable individuals who helped extend the roles of American women in the public policy realm.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Susan Quinn’s tender book of love and loyalty—set during the most tumultuous time of the twentieth century—reads like a whispered confidence. The forbidden relationship between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and hardscrabble journalist Lorena Hickok is one of the great love affairs in history, and yet it has remained largely untold. Thanks to Quinn, their beautiful and courageous story is a secret no longer.”—Mary Gabriel, author of Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award
“In telling with vivid detail the story of a remarkable relationship between two strong women, Susan Quinn has provided a new way to look at some of the most momentous events of the twentieth century. Eleanor and Hick is delightful, moving, penetrating history.”—David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story
“Eleanor Roosevelt’s love affair with ace AP reporter Lorena Hickok, carried on just outside public view during the most public years of their lives, fascinates and inspires in Susan Quinn’s irresistible telling. Eleanor and Hick is a powerfully moving and vital story that could not have been told in its day, and alters radically what we thought we knew about America’s most influential and best-loved First Lady.”—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life
“This is an important and probably unique biography in the history of the U.S. presidency. The special virtue of Eleanor and Hick is that Susan Quinn permits us to see how Eleanor Roosevelt’s long, intimate relationship with Lorena Hickok helped her become not just a First Lady but a great one: courageous, committed, compassionate—and complicated. A triumph.” —Nigel Hamilton, author of The Mantle of Command
About the Author
Susan Quinn is the author of Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art Out of Desperate Times and Marie Curie: A Life, among other books. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and other publications. She is the former president of PEN New England and lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
Top customer reviews
Through this book, I relived my early years, especially the WWII years. The book depicts the relationship between the two women with tenderness and understanding and this indeed impressed me. I found this to be a very easy and fast read, one that I've gained understanding from....not only understanding of the relationship, but also understanding of just what was going on through those years in which I was too young to have understanding of what was going on in the world.
And so I recommend this book with only slight reservation. The author does wander a bit. However, that's not really bad. This is a good read for all those interested in the history of the Roosevelt years. I no longer feel disturbed by the author's allegations. I've gained a new pwerpective and I do strongly recommend this book.
This is a very fast paced book and to the author's credit, no apologies are made for the fact that these two women loved one another. Another good thing about this book is that it shows how two women can successfully find love and it helps dispel homophobia, which sadly was the order of the day when these women met one another. The tone of acceptance can be found throughout the book and that is what makes it such a good read. It is well known that FDR had a mistress for many years. It is also well known that these two distant cousins who married did not have a marriage made in heaven. Their son Elliott Roosevelt chronicles this in his books about Eleanor and Franklin.
Eleanor and Lorena wrote each other loving missives over the years which support the fact that they loved each other intimately. To author Susan Quinn's credit she presents this loving paring in a straightforward and matter of fact manner, much as Hick covered the news during her career as a news reporter.
These women in some ways appear to be obverse sides of a coin. Eleanor was the classic "poor little rich girl" whose society mother was disinterested in her. The then future First Lady grew up in an emotionally bankrupt house and had feelings of inferiority because of her appearance. Hick was born into poverty and became motherless at age 14. She went to work at a very early age and earned her diploma. For many years she enjoyed success as a news reporter despite an unsuccessful stint in college. She and Eleanor met when she was covering Franklin Roosevelt's first campaign for the 1932 election. It was then that the women developed feelings for one another which segued into intimacy.
The only real complaint I have is that as other U.S. reviewers have noted is the shifting timelines. As the sands of time shift appears to be the mantra of this book.
It is well researched, but does not verify the extent of their relationship. It made no difference to me, I didn't need to know any extent of any physical intimacy for the period of time they were in each other's lives before events separated them. The bond of intimacy was very much one of supportive women, social causes, probably more intellectual than deeply physical. People used to be journal and letter writers. Eleanor needed people; Hicks seemed to need Eleanor more than anything besides her career.
They were both misfits in their world with a great deal of emotional baggage from childhood of being unloved and not the social debutante. Eleanor came from a wealthy class; Hicks did not. Eleanor had difficulty feeling worthy and giving love (not that she didn't love) but FDR's polio and the strong influence of her mother-in-law, his need for the spotlight and mistress, often pushed Eleanor aside, except for being a worthy political helpmate. There is no doubt that polio and a political career deeply affected their marriage.