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Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
"In my view, the Roosevelts' bond was political in every sense of the word," writes Rowley, who also argues that despite the difficulties in their marriage, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt always genuinely loved each other. And the difficulties in the marriage were many: Franklin's domineering mother; his flirtatiousness with attractive women; Eleanor's long, maddening retreats into self-righteous silence whenever she was hurt or angry. After 11 years of marriage, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce upon discovering his affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer (she, not Eleanor, would be with FDR when he died). But after he was struck by polio in 1921, she tolerated Franklin's long romance with his secretary, Missy LeHand, while FDR allowed Eleanor her romantic relationships with her chauffeur, Earl Miller, and journalist Lorena Hickok. Despite Rowley's (Christina Stead) cheerleading that the cousins' conflicts brought out their courage and radicalism, and that they loved with a generosity of spirit that withstood betrayal, FDR emerges as a narcissist while Eleanor carved a spectacular life for herself out of a flawed marriage. While much of this story is familiar, the book is nonetheless an engrossing account of an unusual pairing of two extraordinary people. 8 pages of b&w illus. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The literature on the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt is vast as well as deep. Most of us are familiar with the basic facts of the seemingly practical partnership that forged an entirely new model for America’s first couple. Everyone agrees that their individual and joint contributions to the social, political, and cultural landscape of twentieth-century America are immeasurable, but most believe their personal achievements exacted an excruciatingly high personal cost. Rowley, refreshingly, disagrees as she paints a compulsively readable portrait of a vibrant partnership and a successful, albeit unconventional, marriage that nevertheless suited the ambitions and the temperaments of each partner. There are no good or bad guys in this glimpse into the intimate spousal accord that bound the Roosevelts together; both Franklin and Eleanor emerge as willing participants in an unorthodox covenant that defied societal norms and expectations in favor of a productive and mutually beneficial working partnership built on friendship, mutual admiration, and abiding intellectual respect. It might not be everyone’s idea of an ideal marriage, but it seemed to work for them, so why argue? --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The Roosevelts have a lure over me that I can't quite explain. Perhaps their persistent progressivism, that is so missing in our country today, refreshes. Whatever the case, when I saw the cover of the book on the table, I went over and leafed through a couple of pages ... and then walked on. Why? I thought, "Who needs to read another book on the Roosevelt marriage? Hasn't that been written about before?". The answer is yes, and no. Hazel Rowley's new book is a fresh look at this great couple, and a read that was well-worth my time.
First let me say that this book doesn't uncover any major new revelations. What Crowley has brilliant done is nuanced the current knowledge of the Roosevelts and added much dynamics and commentary to what we already know. For example, any Roosevelt reader knows about the infamous Mercer affair. Covered in this book, Mercer strives to paint a picture of Eleanor after the affair as not distant or unkind, but still caring of her husband. Crowley publishes excerpts of letters between the two that suggest just as much. In fact, when FDR contracts polio, it is Eleanor that nurses her husband, and even sleeps in the window bed beside him.
Crowley also strives to dismantle the common conception of the battle between Sara Roosevelt and Eleanor. While certainly conflicts existed between the two, they were mutually fond of each other. Crowley also presents some letters of fondness between the two women that show their affection. Was it perfect? No. The lives of two strong women are bound to come in conflict, and it did not diminish the feelings between the two. Tour FDR's house in Hyde Park, and a ranger will tell you just as much.
In fact, I ended up purchasing this book on my Kindle for that very purpose. Just prior to Thanksgiving, I had the honor of visiting his house And because I read this interesting book that focused not so much on history, but on love, the Roosevelts came alive for me ever more in that house. It's quite a read for quite a couple, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This would must a great Christmas present for a Roosevelt fan in your family, or anyone wanting to read about an amazingly complicated marriage.
I didn't buy it for a long time because some of the reviews tended to question the author's research, but it is thoroughly footnoted, and was written after the finding of the Daisy Suckley diaries, which are a revelation. I am as satisfied as one can be seeing as how these people lived in Victorian times as young people and subscribed to the emotional and sexual secrecy of that era and all parties involved with this couple did a good job of burning intimate letters and documents.
Who didn't love the Roosevelts?
I LOVED this book! What a cleareyed portrait of two flawed human beings who pretty much saved the world as we know it, and made it better for all of us. I followed this book with Doris Kearns Goodwin's No Ordinary Time, and found this one to be the more human, accessible, and well, readable--though I really appreciate Ms Goodwin's excellent scholarship.
I highly recommend this book as an insight into the personalities of two extraordinary people thrust into extraordinary times.