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Best Books of 2018: Fiction
One of the tenderest, most compassionate novels I have read, this is the real story of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s 30-year affair with sports journalist Lorena Hickok. With the help of an archive of 3,500 letters, Bloom brilliantly reimagines the dynamics of their relationship.
– Rebecca Rose, Financial Times
From The Sydney Morning Herald
For what she can impart about the human condition, and for her ability to set out a rollicking story that entertains from the first page to the last, Bloom should be on every list and in every bookshelf.
— Lousie Swinn
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Booklist Starred Review
While researching her previous novel, Lucky Us (2014), Bloom found her next subject: the long- camouflaged if richly rumored relationship between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and trailblazing journalist Lorena Hickok. “Hick” narrates this empathic story of true and besieged love—and what a discerning, courageous, and mordantly witty observer she is. She frankly recounts her brutal childhood in South Dakota, her striking out on her own as a young teen (including a stint with a circus), and her discovery of her talents and feelings for women. When Hick begins covering the White House, she and Eleanor fall promptly in love. As their hidden-in-plain-sight affair gains intensity, and Hick moves into the White House, she gives up her hard-won journalistic career. Via Hick’s crisp delivery and fluency in telling detail, Bloom uncloaks the insidious treacheries girls and women face, poor and privileged alike. Through Hick’s loving eyes, we witness Eleanor’s complex struggles, unwavering discipline, and fierce passion, while Hick’s take on FDR and the rest of the Roosevelts is deftly lacerating. Hick’s outrage over the trauma inflicted on gays and lesbians, the class divide, the beauty quotient, and the gender double standard fuels this socially incisive, psychologically saturated, funny, and erotic fictionalization of legendary figures; this novel of extraordinary magnetism and insight; this keen celebration of love, loyalty, and sacrifice.
— Donna Seaman
“A remarkably intimate and yet informative novel of the secret, scandalous love of Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok, who relates the tale in her own, quite wonderful voice.”– Joyce Carol Oates
“A story that seems to have been invented for Amy Bloom to write: Hidden love, the vagaries of public life, and enduring passion. Her finest novel to date.”– Caryl Phillips