In a perfectly pitched and insightful account, physician David Gurewitsch’s widow lovingly recalls her husband’s abiding friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt.
First and foremost this is a love story—not the usual romantic kind, but one celebrating a spiritual and intellectual affinity that impelled Roosevelt to write that she loved Gurewitsch “as I have never loved anyone else.” He was a Jewish doctor, 18 years her junior, born in Switzerland and raised by his grandparents in Russia while his widowed mother studied medicine. He became a doctor in Germany, then emigrated in 1936 to New York, where he practiced medicine and lived with his first wife. He first met Roosevelt while paying a house call on friends of hers, and when she moved to New York, he became her personal physician. Their deeper friendship began in 1949 on a delay-plagued flight to Switzerland. With time to talk, both found they had much in common, in particular lonely, fatherless childhoods and a determination to help those in need. Gurewitsch was soon accompanying Roosevelt on official visits to the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and India and spending numerous weekends at her Hyde Park cottage. Quoting from their letters and his journals, Edna Gurewitsch describes those years before her own meeting with the now-divorced David. Roosevelt feared their marriage in 1958, but typically she soon included Edna in her life as well. In 1959, the three became co-owners of the Manhattan townhouse where Roosevelt lived until her death. The author recalls her meetings there with the great and famous, enriching the historical record with her acute observations. But her perceptive insights into Mrs. Roosevelt are the real gems here. She came to love and admire the former first lady as “one of the few people in this world in which greatness and modesty could coexist.”
A love story of rare quality: intelligent, wise, and, above all, generous in spirit and understanding.