White Houses

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

While Franklin Roosevelt was involved with many women other than his wife, it was also known that Eleanor Roosevelt had her own lady friend, Lorena Hicko. Eleanor met Hick during her husband’s campaign for President. This book is fictional but it does make you want to do your own research!
Was this review helpful?
Let me start by saying the writing was good, I really enjoyed the writing, but at the same time I want to mention it that it took me a whole week to read this book.  I mean, I tend to read reads in between 2-4 days max but a whole week?  It dragged a little too much, was it me?  Maybe...

I loved the concept of the story line, it was what made it pick up the book and request it from NetGalley (thank you for the early copy) in the first place.  Hick was a character that I don't normally like and don't normally would pick up and enjoy reading from their POV, but I did enjoy when she was talking about her life at the White house, when she would defend the Roosevelts and give her personal opinion about them.  Hick grew up poor but made a name for herself when she became the most prominent woman reporter in America.  She meets Eleanor in 1932 while reporting at the White House while reporting Roosevelts first campaign.  Their friendship matures and they become a lot more than friends.  Hick moves in to the White House has gets the reputation or more like the title of "first friend".    In this novel we get to see Hick's life play out from her time while at the White House, her rival times and friendship with Roosevelt, to her times away from the Roosevelts but never losing sight of them at the same time.  And we get to see what a little white house on Long Island holds to both Eleanor and Hick and at the end you end up wondering if you want it all to be oh so true or not so true.

Bottom line?  The writing was amazing, the story line was there, but it did drag a little...still a great read and I still recommend it.  3.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
This is the extraordinary story of Lorena Hickock and her long romantic relationship with ER. Hickock is a career journalist whose life changes after meeting Eleanor Roosevelt in conjunction with her work reporting on FDR's first presidential campaign. She and ER are immediately smitten with each other, and enjoy each other's company and companionship until Eleanor died. This is a fictional account based on an actual relationship. 

The story is told with an authentic voice. 'Hick' has had a hard life, especially as compared with Eleanor's upbringing. She learns early on that she has only herself to rely on, and trusted friends are hard to come by. She makes a respected living in journalism, a traditionally male career. 

I was eager to read this book, anticipating to learn much more about Eleanor Roosevelt's inner life than I did. I like to think that her relationship with Hickock over the years gave her a measure of love and comfort during a time in her life when she worked so hard on behalf of others. I was struck by the tender moments between them, including how they weren't modest about their bodies as they aged, which was refreshing. The love between Hick and ER is genuine and earthy; they are both strong women who are unafraid to claim their place in the world.

I received this from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This novel felt so salacious I just couldn't bring myself to put it down. It totally burst any preconceived notions I thought I had about the Roosevelts. Who knew?

Amy Bloom portrays Lorena Hickok, a reporter assigned to cover the Roosevelt's and slowly and all at once fell in love with Eleanor. The novel goes back and forth in timeframe, making it a bit tricky to know what's present day (which is also set in 1945) and her memories from much earlier. Starting with her first meeting, to the first comment, to the first kiss. Mixing with present day and dealing with the death of Franklin. 

Somehow, I managed to know absolutely nothing about this relationship and find myself wanting to research what was legitimate and what was pure fiction. It's hard to imagine a woman who lived her life so publicly and was known for values and the loads of children to hide her true love. The novel manages to create something special wrapped in the security of a blanket. You can easily feel the warmth and affection these two admired in one another. I close the book knowing that this is something I hope to find someday too
Was this review helpful?
This was my first Amy Bloom book and I loved it.  The relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok' was interesting, devastating and absolutely complicated.  I had no idea what I was getting when I opened this book but I loved so much of it.  I would definitely recommend this book for its beautiful language and complexity of the story
Was this review helpful?
Eleanor Roosevelt was/is a political and personal idol for me. I have read everything there is to read about Eleanor and also Franklin so It is not surprising to me to read about Lorena Hickok and Eleanor's relationship. However, I had a really hard time reading White Houses by Amy Bloom. The knowledge of this book using Eleanor Roosevelt and her "first" friend, Lorena Hickok (who could've been her longtime lover) as a backdrop just wasn't for me. Historical Fiction sometimes just doesn't work for me as a premise when the characters who are real turn into someone I just don't know. This to me is what happened in White Houses. Amy Bloom always does a really nice job of writing well, creating an image that you can see in your head and taking you away into the story and she did this again in White Houses. I just felt that Lorena was a little dirtier and depressing than what I had read about her before. If you are not knowledgeable about her and Eleanor's relationship than this book could come off as a biography and that is not what this is. It is pure fiction even if Amy Bloom did so much research into her characters. 

I thought this book would be about Eleanor and some of her views and also Lorena. It wasn't. it was told in First Person by Hickok how she felt about Eleanor, what she thought of this and that; how dare Franklin do this, or do that while he was president or before. 

It was maddening to me that the 2 most famous people in this book came off the flattest in the whole story. 

I usually love Amy Bloom, but this book is not one for me to love. Sorry, 

Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
I love reading anything about the Roosevelts. This book did not disappoint. Told from Lorena Hickock's point of view, it gave readers a fictionalized look at Franklin and Elanor that you don't find often. You are them as humans with imperfections. You also get a glimpse of Hicks that I found compelling when delving into her background. A good, short read.
Was this review helpful?
Shouldn't have picked this book to read and review, because of the assumed relationship between the 2 women.
Read a few chapters, skipped a lot of pages, and then read the ending.  It's not my type of book.
Was this review helpful?
Actual rating 3.5

This is a genre that I truly enjoy diving into, so I was very interested in reading this book. Unfortunately, I never entirely clicked with the story. Perhaps I wasn't as interested in the subject as I thought I might be; my tastes do typically run to earlier years. However the writing was excellent and clearly Ms. Bloom did her research, so although I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked, I think it will be well-received by others.
Was this review helpful?
I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This was an interesting story, but since it was fiction, I wonder how much of it was real. The book begins after Roosevelt dies, but it goes back in time to cover a lot.
Was this review helpful?
Although I wanted to get into this book to learn more about the behind the scenes adventures, I couldn't get going with this book.  It may be one i will pick up again if I have more time perhaps but it didn't engage me from the start.
Was this review helpful?
Everyone knows the Roosevelts and especially about Teddy, but Eleanor held her own and is still remembered by many today as a model example of a woman who is strong and dignified even under immense pressure and under constant scrutiny. 

There have also been stories about some of the friendships that Mrs. Roosevelt maintained and the true meaning behind them. This fictionalized account fleshes out and brings much passion along with historical nuances to the rumors. 

Well worth a fireside read.
Was this review helpful?
I love historical novels that reveal little known histories. This novel, though written differently than others I’ve experienced, created that same curiosity within me to learn more about the historical components while also exploring the relationship of Eleanor and Lorena. I love how Amy Bloom leaves the interpretation up to the reader, providing enough information, but not persuading me as a reader to think one way or the other about their relationship. Eye opening, beautiful, and realistic enough that had me questioning, “Do you think this really happened?”
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars.

It was fine? The writing suffered from some confusing tense changes, so I often didn't know if Lorena was describing the current situation or remembering some past event. Other than that, the writing was deeply felt, with raw emotion bursting right through the page.
Was this review helpful?
While the writing of this was very good, I was unable to finish this book. I couldn't concentrate on the story and what was happening because I kept questioning everything. I found I don't do well with a fake stories about real people, unless of course it is fantasy driven such as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. The placing of real people in their time and a fake story does not work well with me.
Was this review helpful?
In recent months the term “open secret” has had sinister connotations, referring to years of men behaving badly and expecting to get away with it due to their positions of power. Amy Bloom explores an open secret of a different nature in White Houses. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Deleno Roosevelt and former first lady of the United States, lived with her lesbian lover in the White House during years of her husband’s administration.  White Houses, views this relationship through the eyes of Eleanor’s lover, Lorena Hickok. Bloom recounts Hickok’s early life, marked with poverty and abuse, and her fierce spirit which helped her become one of the most prominent journalists of her time.  Slow at times, White Houses, still fascinates by the simple fact that in the 1930’s, lesbians were living in the White House and no one turned it into a giant scandal. Although some historians would choose to debate the nature of the women’s relationship, thousands of romantic and even erotic letters between Eleanor and Lorena provide plenty of evidence and material for this fictional take on a true love story.
Was this review helpful?
White Houses by Amy Bloom is a fictional retelling of the middle-aged, adulterous love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. It is the raw and astonishingly candid story of a poor white girl who overcomes poverty, bigotry and sexual abuse to become an acclaimed journalist and the lesbian lover of the First Lady of the United States. Read this when you are in the mood for a gritty and feminist perspective on a hidden chapter in history. It is Bastard out of Carolina meets The Paris Wife with a dash of Thelma and Louise. Best paired with horseradish cheese, sardines and sidecars.
Was this review helpful?
I so wanted to like this book. The author creates real sympathy for Lorena Hickok. Lorena had a horrible upbringing..forced to grow up way to soon. The story is told through her eyes. After we learn Lorena’s story, the book falls apart. There were no smooth transitions as Lorena tells memories about her love life with Eleanor. I was so disappointed. I appreciate NetGalley giving me the opportunity to read White Houses.
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting take on the Eleanor's love life. it is not the usual type of book I read but I felt the author had a good grasp of the historical material which aided in development of the rich narrative. i like the book very much and would recommend it to others.
Was this review helpful?
Occasionally, you have the misfortune to write a book on the same topic as someone else and have them published in the same season.  Such is the case for White Houses, which is one of two books about Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock, a reporter who covered the Roosevelts and who became Eleanor’s lover.

White Houses is a novel told as a first-person narrative by Lorena.  Her view of the famous Eleanor Roosevelt is untarnished by all of the great quotes and gives us a peek at the stalwart woman as a woman, an object of love as well as the cause for sadness.  Lorena’s own story is the backdrop.  Her ‘autobiography’ provides a picture of the country at the time and reminds us how very far we have come even while the image of FDR as leader may make us nostalgic for a heroic if human president.

The casual bisexuality of the first lady and her classmates and the open secret of her affair with Hickock pushes any assumption that progress is a unidirectional arrow and that ours is the age of enlightenment after a long period of sexual Dark Ages.

White Houses is an easy and engaging read, particularly for those fascinated by the Roosevelt era or the Roosevelt story.

Advanced copy compliments of netgalley.com
Was this review helpful?