Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Loving Eleanor - Susan Wittig Albert

My public school education went something like this -

Start of school year - pre-colonial American
End of school year - Civil War Reconstruction (maybe)
Start of next school year - rinse and repeat

Basically, I made it up to and maybe through Civil War Reconstruction, but that was about it.  Modern, 20th century history (at least until I started living it myself) wasn't covered.

This made reading Loving Eleanor, by Susan Wittig Albert, all the more interesting.

Based on the thousands of letters exchanged between Lorena Hickok, or Hick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, this is an account of the decades long relationship between the two women.

Upon the death of Eleanor Roosevelt, Lorena pulls out the over 3000 letters exchanged between the two women over their decades long relationship.  The story, told looking back, highlights both Eleanor's growth as a personality of her own and Lorena's contributions.

Several things emerged from reading this book.  First, I didn't realize just how much one woman had contributed to 'first's for women' on her own.  Lorena Hickok was a powerhouse of her own in the world of journalism in the early part of the 20th century.  Because of her love for Eleanor, she opened doors for the First Lady to expand upon her ideas and not just be a typical behind the scenes presence in the White House.

They were both mature women when they met and fell in love, but the relationship was not without it's issues.  The primary being the need to be extremely discreet and not having much of an opportunity, especially later in their relationship, to have time alone.

Loving Eleanor has made me want to delve more into the relationship between Eleanor and FDR (which was quirky on it's own) and the roll they played in shaping America as we know it today.  Binge watching Ken Burn's The Roosevelts touched on some of the intimate relationships the president and First Lady had over the years, and not with each other.  Makes me wonder if they could carry them off in today's world.

A great read, but a trifle sad in how Lorena had to put her relationship on hold as Eleanor grew in stature as a personality.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this sounds like a good one (and likely sad)! I'm woefully ignorant about much of that era of American history.


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