White Houses

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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This was a well-written description of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, along with details about Hick's earlier life. It's full of details about their lives, and was especially interesting since my knowledge of that time and FDR's presidency is limited. While it is fiction, it felt very true to the events and the participants. Hick's voice is strong and direct, yet is brought to a very poignant conclusion.
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Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the strongest and most popular First Ladies. This fictionalized historical account of her friendship and romantic liaison with 'Hick' was not taught in school. This story is from Buck's point of view and is well written as Amy Bloom books are. Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read and review this story. 3.5/5 Stars
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Overall, this was a depressing story. While it is a fictionalized account of part of Eleanor Roosevelt's life, there are many parts that are based on facts. It is sad/depressing because the people are depicted must live lives circumvented, never allowed to be true and free. Amy Bloom has the wonderful ability to evoke a time period, giving you enough details to anchor you to the time and place, and as always, her writing is evocative, full of longing. I would recommend this book.
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An unexpected fictional story of Eleanor Roosevelt and her lover/dear friend Lorena Hickok. A forbidden love story of two impressive women. Well written and heart wrenching. Many thanks to the NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy. This is my honest opinion.
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At the beginning of this book, I thought it was a terrible account of an impossibly awful childhood, and when I discovered the girl it presented was based on a real person, it made me very sad.  But this child amazingly took her life in her own hands and survived, becoming a reporter and the reputed “partner” of Eleanor Roosevelt.  The evidence seems to support their love for each other, physical or not, but Lorena Hickok was most of all a friend.  Eleanor is presented here as a rather brusque, matter of fact, and stern person.  Perhaps Hick, with her no-nonsense demeanor was the best possible friend, but this story certainly didn’t portray the first lady in a very intriguing or interesting light.  The book just left me unsatisfied.  It was a rather dull and dreary account of a life that I had always thought was fascinating.
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White Houses is a timely read which I don’t think Amy Bloom could have predicted. In response to a recent immigration border policy separating children and parents, First Ladies from past to present spoke out. If Eleanor Roosevelt was still alive, her voice might be the loudest. Secondly, June is Pride month and I can’t help but think how Lorena would relish that with Eleanor and her linking arms.

The narration of White Houses is Lorena Hickok’s point of view. There is the backstory of Lorena’s youth, how she grew up poor and was forced to work at age eleven as a maid after her mother passed away. Drifting from job to job she found herself as a secretary where she learned to type. Using that skill, she worked her way up to be the most known female writer of the Associated Press. Lorena meets Eleanor when she was on assignment writing about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign for president. After he wins the presidency, it becomes apparent that Franklin and Eleanor’s marriage is one of convenience not passion. Franklin has his mistresses and Lorena has her own room in the White House. For three decades we follow the ups and downs of the relationship between these compassionate women. 

Eleanor having debutante status and Lorena a hardscrabble youth, they couldn’t be more opposite, but find solace in their “friendship”. When a mutual friend tries to blackmail Lorena with going public about her affair with the First Lady, her brash personality is uncompromising leaving the blackmailer with nothing. It saddens me that Lorena takes a backseat in family affairs where she is hardly acknowledged, but in pubic she is referred to as the “first friend” and she is always by Eleanor’s side. It feels like an unstated acceptance of their relationship.

At its very core, this is a love story about the deep, intimate feelings that First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok “Hick” had for each other. It’s touching and beautiful.
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I highly recommend this beautifully written, intimate look at a forbidden love that helped shaped one of the most powerful women in American history. Amy Bloom has very eloquently conveyed the depths of emotion connecting these two women, as well as the heart-wrenching conflict of loving someone who can never truly be yours. I loved how the author conveyed Lorena’s feistiness and willingness to speak her mind when others might have held back. In fact, Ms. Bloom wrote all the characters as “real” people, warts and all, and I think that added tremendously to the depth and charm of this novel. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy. This is my honest opinion.
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This is a beautifully written fictional account of the love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock. It is fictional, but the author's knowledge of the real life characters and masterful prose truly bring the story to life. It gives quite a different picture of Eleanor than usual assumed. The tough and resolute woman that is so often remembered by history is replaced by a humanly weak and vulnerable woman. Although it shows her weaknesses, to me it actually made her more likeable and warm. I enjoyed the insight into the Roosevelt presidency, even if it was somewhat fictionalized. It is obvious that Ms. Bloom did quite a bit of research into the family and those around them.
I like historic fiction and was excited to read this book. I expected to enjoy it, but ended up totally blown away by the depth of the story. It is just so readable and believable! I think anyone would appreciate this book, unless you are just too turned off at the idea of Eleanor Roosevelt in love with a woman. If you can deal with that, I highly recommend Ms. Bloom's "White Houses".
My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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As an adult reader, I liked this book. 

As a high school teacher-librarian, it's not for my kids.
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I noticed the reviews for this book were not stellar, but I was intrigued enough to read it anyway. I found this story to be one of heartbreak and great attention to historical detail, and I literally could not stop reading. I cannot recommend this enough as I feel it is absolutely perfect for our university student population. Thank you, NetGalley, for the chance to read it.
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Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick," as she's known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as "first friend" is an open secret, as are FDR's own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick's bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

My thoughts
I wanted so bad to actually  either like this or love it but  unfortunately its neither , I kept hoping the more I read there would be something I would like about the story but it just didn't work for me, it didn't pull me in at all ,didn't keep my attention, so with that said I still want to think Netgalley for at least giving me a chance at reading it and review it in  a change for my honest opinion
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I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. At first glance, the premise wasn’t what I thought it would be. But I received a free review copy from the publisher through NetGalley and had no good reason NOT to read it. 

This is the fictionalized story of Eleanor Roosevelt and her “First Friend” Lorena Hickok “Hick”. I was excited to read the authors note at the end to take me down a rabbit trail to learn more - I was disappointed there were no specific references in my advanced copy but I’m hoping they were added for the final release! You know the story was well told when I just want to keep learning more and more and more!

The writing in this book is absolutely exquisite! It is witty and telling. It is deep in a quick way without overlooking significance. 

This book is for fans of The Paris Wife (I am one) - the struggle of love and the words used to capture the good and bad times. They’re both about broken people, finding love and remaining broken. Love is therapeutic but not always completely healing. And that reality is so raw and well told here.
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A really well done biography. Captivating, historical and respectful of the subject matter. I loved it and have already recommended it to friends I know will love it.
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I wanted to like this book, I really did. It was interesting to hear about history from a completely different insider viewpoint. However, what bothered me is that the jumping back and forth became a bit convoluted at certain points. I felt whip-lashed from all of the jumping back and forth and was less emotionally invested in their relationship.
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I find this relationship interesting from a historical perspective. I did not know that Eleanor Roosevelt had female lovers and was interested to learn of this prominent reporter Lorena Hickok. I was confused throughout the book as I could not find a flow to the story. It seemed like each chapter was a page from a diary but it didn't connect for me. I also didn't know some of the people in the book and would have liked to know their positions in the white house. 
I posted this on Amazon, Mary 30, 2018
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White Houses has been sitting on my shelf for some time and finally, I grabbed it off my shelf and found a grassy, shady spot to hide in a coulee till I finished reading this story.

Amy Bloom beautifully captures the hidden love between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena “Hick” Hickok. She does a fanatic job creating a compelling picture of the relationship between these very different women from different backgrounds. Though Hick’s perspective she brings to life their relationship while giving us Hicks’ take on Franklin Roosevelt and life in the White House. We see some history as well though Hicks’ eyes that really added to the story.

Hick makes an interesting and compelling voice and she really steals the show here in this story for me. She is tough with brass knuckles who is funny and opinionated and I really enjoyed learning their story through her.

White Houses was a very interesting read for me as it pulled into the story yet at times I found myself uninterested in parts but still completely drawn into the emotional depth of this brilliantly written story. I highly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House and Amy Bloom for a copy to read and review.

Review written and posted on our themed book blog Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading.
https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com
Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.
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