Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage

Hazel Rowley, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-15857-6
"In my view, the Roosevelts' bond was political in every sense of the word," writes Rowley, who also argues that despite the difficulties in their marriage, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt always genuinely loved each other. And the difficulties in the marriage were many: Franklin's domineering mother; his flirtatiousness with attractive women; Eleanor's long, maddening retreats into self-righteous silence whenever she was hurt or angry. After 11 years of marriage, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce upon discovering his affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer (she, not Eleanor, would be with FDR when he died). But after he was struck by polio in 1921, she tolerated Franklin's long romance with his secretary, Missy LeHand, while FDR allowed Eleanor her romantic relationships with her chauffeur, Earl Miller, and journalist Lorena Hickok. Despite Rowley's (Christina Stead) cheerleading that the cousins' conflicts brought out their courage and radicalism, and that they loved with a generosity of spirit that withstood betrayal, FDR emerges as a narcissist while Eleanor carved a spectacular life for herself out of a flawed marriage. While much of this story is familiar, the book is nonetheless an engrossing account of an unusual pairing of two extraordinary people. 8 pages of b&w illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 345 pages - 978-0-312-61063-0
Paperback - 345 pages - 978-0-522-85179-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-5160-2
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4299-6287-2
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