cover image White Houses

White Houses

Amy Bloom. Random House, $27 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9566-4

Bloom, finalist for the National Book Award (for Come to Me), brings to life Eleanor Roosevelt through the eyes of her lover, Lorena “Hick” Hickok, in this fiery historical novel. After eight years apart, Hick visits Eleanor following the death of F.D.R. just months before the end of WWII. Seeing her old friend and lover inspires Hick to reflect on trips the car trip they took to Maine during their initial courtship while Franklin Roosevelt was still governor of New York. It was on this trip that Hick first divulged her life story to Eleanor: growing up in an abusive home in rural South Dakota, leaving as a teenager to work as a housemaid, being hired as a receptionist for a traveling circus, and starting a career in journalism in Chicago. Hick eventually worked the politics beat at the Associated Press before leaving due to her close relationship to the Roosevelts. Bloom beautifully captures the affection the women felt for each other by revealing hushed schemes and stolen moments of passion against the backdrop of world-changing events that end up driving Eleanor and Hick apart. Cleverly structured through reminiscences that slowly build in intimacy, Bloom’s passionate novel beautifully renders the hidden love of one of America’s most guarded first ladies. (Mar.)