Alice & Edith
The best biographical novels use fiction to weave facts into a cohesive, compelling whole. Unfortunately, this latest offering from the author of Queen Dolley , Lady Washington and Lincoln's Mothers is weak on both counts. The author's extensive research into the lives of Theodore Roosevelt's two wives has produced what is mainly a collection of anecdotes which, while often interesting, are frequently included on the flimsiest excuses, thereby sidetracking the narrative. The fictional framework is further strained by awkward dialogue and Wilson's tendency to tell us that the protagonists are good, depressed, loving, haunted--instead of allowing the characters themselves to persuade us of these facts. In the end, neither Roosevelt's alternately ``sweet, pretty'' or ``little, pink'' first wife, Alice Lee, who died after three and a half years of marriage, nor Edith Carow, his wife of 36 years, who ruled both the White House and Sagamore with ``an iron hand scarcely hidden in the velvet glove'' are convincingly sympathetic. Even TR, for all his goodnatured bluster and liberal convictions, seems lifeless in Wilson's portrayal. (Nov.).