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White Houses
2018
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After meeting the future first lady while covering Franklin Roosevelt's campaign, Lorena Hickock and Eleanor discover a powerful passion between them. - (Baker & Taylor)

A New York Times best-selling author presents a novel inspired by the life of Lorena Hickok, and by her love affair and enduring friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. - (Baker & Taylor)

For readers of The Paris Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue comes a love story inspired by “one of the most intriguing relationships in history”*—between Eleanor Roosevelt and “first friend” Lorena Hickok.

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. 

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan’s Washington Square, Amy Bloom’s new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.

Advance praise for White Houses

“Amy Bloom brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“A 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

“Lorena Hickok is a woman who found love with another lost soul, Eleanor Roosevelt. And love is what this book is all about: It suffuses every page, so that by the time you reach the end, you are simply stunned by the beauty of the world these two carved out for themselves.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue* - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Amy Bloom is the author of Come to Me, a National Book Award finalist; A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Love Invents Us; Normal; Away, a New York Times bestseller; Where the God of Love Hangs Out; and Lucky Us, a New York Times bestseller. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, Tin House, and Salon, among other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. She is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

*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 reportorial 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. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

New York Times best seller Bloom (Lucky Us), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, draws inspiration from real-life figures as she reimagines the deep friendship between AP reporter Lorena Hickok and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The novel is told from Hickok's perspective, opening with her childhood and eventually intertwining her life and the First Lady's as we are taken behind the scenes at the White House, where Hickok lived. (She also had a little white house on Long Island, hence the title.) With a three- to five-city tour.

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Library Journal Reviews

Lorena "Hick" Hickok was a hard-boiled newspaper reporter, but she showed her tender side to the love of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt. In this new novel by the acclaimed author of Lucky Us, Hick tells her story in her own brash voice. Hick and Eleanor could not have been more different. Eleanor was genteel, patrician, and private, the opposite of Lorena. Both women had unhappy childhoods, but Hick's was brutal. She escaped grinding poverty and an abusive father in South Dakota, working as a hired girl before joining a circus. By the time Eleanor meets her in 1932, Hick is a respected AP reporter. Hick moves into the White House, taking a job in the Roosevelt administration, though Eleanor's portly companion was usually cut out of any official photos. Told from Hick's perspective, the novel embraces not just the White House but Hick's little white house on Long Island, hence the title. VERDICT Imagining intimate scenes between these two women and portraying Franklin D. Roosevelt in all his complexity, with his own dalliances and foibles, Bloom brings the Roosevelts and their world vividly to the page, giving an unforgettable voice to the larger-than-life Lorena. An original, richly textured, and beautifully written love story. [See Prepub Alert, 9/11/17.]—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

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