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Lucy: A Novel Hardcover – January, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A "super read," claims the publicist, this first novel re-creates FDR's love affair with his wife's social secretary.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Feldman humanizes two icons and sheds light on an enigmatic figure of history in this novel detailing the love affair between Franklin Roosevelt and his wife's secretary, Lucy Mercer Rutherford. Told from Rutherford's viewpoint, the story traces their affair from when she is initially hired as Eleanor's personal secretary in the days before World War I and ends on Rutherford's deathbed in 1948. The affair, which terminates when his advisors fear that his wished-for divorce could ruin his presidential aspirations, is renewed 20 years later during FDR's presidency, when he seeks Lucy's companionship to relieve the stresses of World War II. With Lucy, Rutherford has created a Whartonesque heroine: an intelligent and perceptive woman stymied by the social restrictions of her time. Eleanor serves as a peripheral character, emerging as a woman driven by her convictions and her need to right the unending wrongs of the world, while Roosevelt is a charismatic figure who is unsure of why any obstacle--social mores, political opponents, or polio--should impede his desires. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393051536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051537
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jana L.Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the fictional account of a very real love affair, told by "the other woman." The relationship, by itself was not an uncommon one, although the characters could have been created by Edith Wharton. They are east coast, upper-class, elite; patricians to-the-manor-born. It is really not an epic love story like that of Josephine and Napoleon, or Cleopatra and Antony, or even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Fortunately, for history's sake, no one gave up a throne...or the presidency for this love. The three people who comprise the love triangle, however, are of epic proportion - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lucy Mercer. And each of these people, as individuals, and in their relationship to one another, had a major role to play in the course of world events, from the time that Lucy met Franklin and Eleanor, just before World War I, through the Great Depression, until the end of Franklin's life, right before the end of World War II.
While reading this novel, I initially thought it to be short on substance - more than fluff, but lacking in weight - perhaps it needed more historical detail. But after reading the book, I was left with a feeling of deep sadness at the poignancy of the love that existed between Lucy and Franklin, and between Eleanor and Franklin. Ellen Feldman has given us Lucy's voice, a woman's voice from a time long ago, (for some reason I remember Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's "House of Mirth"). And that voice tells us the history of a love which is the center of her life - so that the history of the world becomes peripheral. And that one historical viewpoint becomes unique and compelling.
I admire Ms. Feldmans work tremendously. I also admire her courage in writing a historical novel of merit about such famous, public figures.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been an avid reader of historical novels for the past forty years, and consider Ellen Feldman's Lucy one of the best. It is an informative, entertaining and richly detailed depiction of the love affair that Franklin D. Roosevelt had with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer. It is also a vivid and accurate account of that crucial period in world history between both world wars, and WWII itself. It takes courage for a novelist to write a book narrated by a historical figure, and Feldman does so with masterful restraint, thus creating a realistic and convincing portrait. Lucy comes across as a sensitive and caring woman willing to make any sacrifice for the man she loves, a man who returns her love, and realizes in the end that had Franklin left his wife for her the scandal would have ruined him, and history as we know it would be another story. FDR himself emerges as the giant he was, but susceptible to the passions that also made him human. And Eleanor bears it all with the type of stoical pride, dignity, and wit that made her the great woman she was. I once shook her hand, and still feel her warmth in my palm. It's an important story unknown to many. It's great to know, and recall, that in those pre-paparazzi, pre-TV, pre-tabloid bilge, pre-Ken Star, pre-base politician days people still respected the office of the presidency and didn't stoop to any low level just to make a few bucks, ruin a career, and embarrass a nation. Overall, this is a wonderful novel by the underrated Ms. Feldman. One can only hope she continues to write such fine narratives.
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Format: Paperback
I have always been intrigued with the story of the romanance between FDR and Lucy Mercer. When I ran across this book at a local book store I bought it immediately and moved it ahead of other things that I planned to read. The story is romantic and touching. It gives a different view of Frankling and Eleanor and it shows how history could have so easily have been changed. For those interested in FDR and Eleanor its an interesting read. For those who are romantics at heart, its a warm and beautiful story about love and its lasting endurance.
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Format: Paperback
This was a really good read. A historical fiction novel based on fact. I had no idea that Franklin D. Roosevelt had an affair, but the way Ms. Feldman tells it, it's not trashy or disgraceful. Franklin and Lucy Mercer are two people who truly loved each other, but given the time period, just could not be together.

Lucy Mercer met Franklin when she became his wife Eleanore's personal secretary in 1914. At this time Franklin was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, years away from the presidency. The two didn't begin their love affair until 1916, and it lasted for two years. But in 1918, upon returning from an overseas trip to see how WWI soldiers were faring, Eleanor was unpacking Franklin's bag when she discovered a stack of love letters from Lucy, tied together with a velvet ribbon.

Eleanor offered Franklin his freedom by getting a divorce (which was almost unheard of in 1918) so he could marry Lucy. He was planning to do just that, but his personal advisers got to him, and let him know that if he married Lucy Mercer, his shot for the presidency was gone. Divorce had never been in the white house, and the country certainly wouldn't elect a man who abandoned his wife and 5 children for his mistress.

In the end, his dream of becoming President won out, and Lucy and Franklin didn't see each other for over 20 years. But in 1940 they reconnected, and in 1941, Lucy (who's husband had suffered a stroke, and was confined to a wheelchair) began seeing the President under the false Secret Service name of Ms. Johnson. Lucy continued to see Franklin every opportunity she could until his death in April, 1945 at Warm Springs, which she was there for.

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